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Cooper finds form as Hughes fog lifts

03 November 2016

Cooper saltues his century in opening Shield round at the WACA // Getty

Redbacks coach Jamie Siddons says batsman Tom Cooper has put tragic death of teammate aside to rediscover love of the game

The fog of despair at Phillip Hughes' death has finally lifted for South Australia teammate Tom Cooper.

Cooper was at the non-striker's end when his housemate Hughes was stuck by a ball in a Sheffield Shield match at the SCG in November 2014. Hughes died in hospital three days later.

SA coach Jamie Siddons believes it's taken Cooper until now to deal with his grief and again become a linchpin in the Redbacks' Shield side, which hosts Tasmania from Friday.

The Redbacks will take the field in Adelaide as the NSW Coroner is handing down his findings in Sydney following last month's harrowing coronial inquest into the former Test batsman's death.

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"A lot of stuff has gone under the bridge now and he can put all that aside, a lot of bad stuff that he has had going on in his life," Siddons said on Thursday.

"Now he can focus on cricket. And he's a lot fresher, a lot freer to play the game that we know he can play."

Cooper struck 138 in SA's season-opening Shield triumph against Western Australia in Perth last week, after being dumped from the Redbacks' four-day side last season.

"Tom was probably closer than a lot of the guys as he was out there batting with Hughesy," Siddons said.

"So he has found it a little bit harder I think and that has played a big part in his form (last summer).

"He has been able to put that aside now and he's refreshed, he's bubbly, he's vocal again which is what they tell me he was like before it all happened."

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Cooper was the Shield's second-highest run-scorer in 2013-14, making 881 at an average of 51.82. The following summer, he amassed 626 runs at 58.61.

But Cooper slumped last summer, making just 249 runs at 17.78 before being axed. He was also overlooked for a state contract for this season.

But Siddons is buoyed by Cooper's return to form ahead of the Adelaide Oval fixture against Tasmania.

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Rebacks paceman Joe Mennie will play after being named 12th man for Australia's first Test side against South Africa.

"It's a great result for us but I'm sure Joe would have loved, and we would have loved, to have him playing in the Test match," Siddons said.