TYPECAST as a one-day specialist, Ian Cockbain hopes to become a key player for Gloucestershire in all formats after producing one of the most remarkable innings seen at the County Ground in many years.
Only making his first County Championship appearance of the season due to injuries to other batsmen, the 27-year-old hit a career-best 151 not out – his third first class century – from an eight-hour, 45-minute stay at the crease to rescue a hugely unlikely draw against Surrey last week.
With Chris Dent (thumb) and Will Tavare (knee) expected to return for the four-day game against Glamorgan, starting on Saturday at Bristol, Cockbain has given the selectors a welcome headache.
It would be unthinkable for Cockbain to be dropped after he saw off a Surrey attack full of international experience in Chris Tremlett, Jade Dernbach and Gareth Batty, coming in at number three and leading Gloucestershire to safety at 506-6 in their second innings after the visitors dominated the first two days and built a first innings lead of 514.
After joining the club in 2011, Cockbain made 27 first class appearances in his first two years but did not play again until the last game of the 2013 campaign against Glamorgan despite being a regular in the Twenty20 and one-day sides.
Cockbain was determined to make the most of his opportunity after biding his time and hopes to kick on from his magnificent performance against Surrey.
He said: “It’s nice to show I can play in both forms.
“It’s unfortunate that a couple of guys have got injured but it’s just nice to get the opportunity to do pretty well.
“I do put quite a bit of pressure on myself at the best of times so with the added pressure of coming in when it might only be for one game and then have the added pressure of being on a pair it was nice to get over that.”
Gloucestershire resumed the final day still needing 240 runs just to avoid an innings defeat with only five wickets left but remarkably Tom Smith was the only batsman out having made his highest first-class score of 80 in a 177-run sixth wicket stand with Cockbain.
It means Gloucestershire took five points from the game instead of none and Cockbain hopes it will spur them on to make a promotion push from Division Two.
He said: “Points are crucial no matter how you get them, not just for us but to stop Surrey from getting those extra points, too.
“The mood in the camp and the support everyone’s got for each other is fantastic. We’ve got a really strong unit and a great ethic.”
Gloucestershire were shot out for just 112 in their first innings as Dunn (4-37) and Chris Tremlett (2-24) ripped through the top and middle order, Geraint Jones top-scoring with 28.
Surrey declared on a massive 626-6 at the end of the second day as Rory Burns finished one run short of a double ton and put on 200-plus stands with opening partner Zafar Ansari (98) and Vikram Solanki, who piled on the misery by hitting 143, with Jason Roy smashing an unbeaten 121 off 71 balls against a weary bowling attack.
Captain Michael Klinger (120) led Gloucestershire’s resistance by hitting a century for the second consecutive County Championship game.