Bowled over; He Is as Famed for His Arrogance and Aggression as for His Cricket. but, in a Rare Interview, Dominic Cork Tells Andrew Preston That He's a Changed Man, and It's Thanks to His New Wife
Preston, Andrew, The Mail on Sunday (London, England)
Byline: ANDREW PRESTON
If you believe what you read about cricketer Dominic Cork, then he is a surly, aggressive, petulant, egotistical troublemaker. He is also, according to that famous shrinking violet Geoffrey Boycott, a prima donna.
Cork delights in getting up his opponents' noses by giving them the long, hard stare. A swaggering performer, he also relishes the pressure of the big occasion. Just think back to last summer when, wild-eyed and bursting with adrenalin, he steered England to victory over the West Indies in the unforgettable Second Test at Lord's and sparked a revival in English Test cricket. After losing the First Test to Australia, England can only dream that history will repeat itself in next week's Test at Lord's.
The 29-year-old fast medium-pace bowler clearly enjoys his reputation.
'He's not afraid to be called names or be hated,' wrote his England team-mate Darren Gough in his autobiography Dazzler this year. 'He wants to be unpopular, otherwise he's failing in his game plan. I've always thought that animosity helps to motivate him.' Cork's done a pretty good job at winding up many of his team-mates and managers over the years, too. Gough also wrote: 'You can't keep acting like a kid. You've got to grow up.' In his book Anything but Murder last year, former England coach David Lloyd called him, among other things, 'a misfit' and said, 'all too often he becomes the type of character who can be as unpopular with his team-mates as he is with the opposition'. This clearly still riles Cork.
Off the pitch Corky, as he is widely known, is very different - polite, amenable, charming and surprisingly open. 'You have to talk a good game though,' he jokes. 'I'm a completely different person off the pitch. I don't sit at the dinner table with my wife, son and stepson, stick on the zinc cream and give them dirty looks.' He is the first to admit, however, that he hasn't always been this easygoing. 'I'm a more open person now. Before I kept things to myself and bottled them up but now I feel able to address situations and frustrations. I used to just go quiet and wouldn't want to talk to anyone. But I can cope with those situations better now.' He credits his wife Donna, whom he married last summer, with helping him to this new-found maturity. His first marriage, to Jane, ended in 1996 after less than three years.
'This sport is very difficult to cope with mentally and physically and it's also hard on relationships. Jane and I were two people who just fell out of love. My commitments took over my life because things weren't right in my marriage.
'Everything came so quickly for me, my whole world changed and I found myself starting to become a person I didn't want to be. All I wanted to do was play cricket. Now there are agents to push people away when you don't want to see them. It's hard enough performing on the pitch let alone trying to keep everyone else happy.
'Our split was as amicable as these things can be. I see my son Gregory, who's seven in September, as much as possible. During the cricket season I get the odd night with him or the odd weekend and I try to relish it as much as possible.' He met Donna, who had also been married before, soon after separating from Jane. 'Donna had just opened a hairdressing salon in Derby. I just went to have my hair cut and she asked me if they could take my picture. I went back to the salon's official opening party that night and got chatting to her.
'That's when I first realised I quite liked her because I got on with her and I could talk to her about things. She had been through bad times, too. We ended up being mates more than anything else. I think that's what made life feel just a little bit better because I had met someone who understood me.
She is able to make me switch off from cricket. She's a very strong person to be with and she helps me understand things better. …