IT is fair to say Ben Cook set tongues wagging at Wimborne Road on Wednesday night.

The Aussie youngster’s first action in front of Pirates’ home supporters could not have gone much better – with 13 points and three heat wins coming from his six rides against Berwick.

Cook, a member of Poole’s 2020 SGB Championship team that never was, had to endure a lengthy delay to show the Wimborne Road faithful what he was capable of.

But boy, did he deliver when called on.

As the famous saying goes – good things come to those who wait. For Cook, he saw that come to fruition after almost 500 days since signing for Poole.

 

Reflecting on the events of last year, when the coronavirus wiped out British speedway, Cook told the Daily Echo: “We had got so close, only a few days out from our press day and the world pretty much got turned upside down.

“Next thing you know, we are back home in Aussie and pretty much a year later here we are, so it’s second time lucky!

“As soon as it all happened, there were a few Aussie boys, Brady and Todd Kurtz, my brother as well, we all pretty much said ‘we’ve got to go to get out of here before you do get stuck here’.

“That was probably the best decision we did make to go back home and how it used to be. I am an electrician by trade, so I pretty much went straight back into work.”

As well as sticking together when the pandemic struck – Cook has also learned a great deal from former Pirates stars Brady Kurtz and Jack Holder, about how to adapt to racing in the UK.

“Brady and Jack Holder have been a big help,” added the 23-year-old. “It’s just little things that until you do ride here, you don’t really know.

“They have helped out a lot, especially in the workshop. Going to all these new tracks, you don’t know anything. Any advice is good help, so they have been really good.”

Poole Pirates speedway v Berwick Bandits. The first home meeting for the Pirates in the 2021 season. Heat 7 Ben Cook and Danny King.

 

He added: “Really, I just want to be consistent this year and score some good points around the place wherever I can.

“It’s so hard coming here from so far away and not seeing these tracks, going out for your first heat and going straight into it.

“It is difficult but I just want to be consistent this year.”

Cowra-born Cook is following in the footsteps of a number of top riders, in staying with Poole team boss Neil Middleditch during his time in Britain.

Poole Pirates speedway v Berwick Bandits. The first home meeting for the Pirates in the 2021 season. Neil Middleditch walk the track with the team..

 

He revealed his brother Zach, who rides for Plymouth, as well as Brady Kurtz, were also based over in Sturminster Marshall this season.

He said: “There’s three of us and it’s never a dull moment that’s for sure. It’s good, there’s plenty of banter.

“It’s all good. If you can’t take any banter then it’s not good there, but I love it.

“It’s a home away from home, it’s a big place and they’ve got workshops. Everything is there, everything we need and to have a couple of Aussie boys as well with Brady and my brother, it’s good.”

Life as a professional sportsman can be intense, especially when you are paid to race a bike with no brakes.

Cook finds time away from speedway, when his schedule allows, to tackle a sport which takes on a slower pace.

“Ever since I was a young kid, with dad I would always go fishing. We whiz up to a big dam or lake at home,” he said.

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“We used to go up there and go fishing which was good. Now I go up there with Todd Kurtz from back home and it’s good fun to get out and go exploring a little bit too.

“It is good and we do have it so close to home back there – a massive dam and you’d be mad not to do something with it.

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“There’s plenty of hours in that, don’t worry. We like fishing and we take every chance to go for it.

“You’ve got to have a hobby. You can’t just be one-minded on something. I don’t mind golf as well, or riding the pit bikes around the track to mix it up.”

So with Cook now settled in the area and ready to take on the rigours of a Championship campaign, what have the senior members of Pirates’ side made of him?

Danny King and Ben Cook led Pirates to a 5-1 in heat seven (Picture: Richard Crease)

 

Captain Danny King said: “I’ve actually been spending a bit of time with Ben these past few weeks and he’s great – he is absolutely great.

“I’m really impressed with the guy. He can certainly ride a bike and he’s got a good head on his shoulders.

“I think he is in for a good year and obviously that’s a bonus for Poole Speedway.

“He’s good to work with and I think Ben is going to have a very good year. It just goes to show the talent of the kid – he is going to tracks he’s never even seen in his life and he’s putting in these performances. It’s good for him.”

Team boss Middleditch told Pirates’ website: “He is really beginning to show us what a good little rider we have in him.”

He may be diminutive in stature, but Cook appears a rider with a big future in the sport.