Cooper will serve as acting captain for the contest, which begins on Thursday from 10:30am at Adelaide Oval, with skipper Travis Head on international duties with Australia’s Gillette T20I Tri-Series squad.
It’s been a remarkable turnaround for the experienced batsman, who earned his way back onto South Australia’s full contract list and finished last season the Redbacks’ leading Shield runscorer.
“Personally, I never thought that it was the end,” said Cooper, who was initially overlooked for the 2016-17 season.
“I kept that confidence in myself. Being confident is one of the most important things.
“I think it’s my 10th season here. It’s going to be a very exciting game.
“There’s only been just over 500 people play for the state, so to captain it is an honour.”
Cooper will lead a new-look Redbacks lineup missing Head, Alex Carey, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson to T20I duties as well as injured batsman Callum Ferguson.
"Probably not ideal circumstances (to be without key players), but personally it's very exciting to get the call up (to captain)," Cooper said.
"It's a good thing, it gives opportunity to the guys in the squad that have been performing well at the level below.
"As a squad, our goal is to have people playing for Australia, so to complain about that when it happens wouldn't be the right way to go about it - it just gives guys coming in a great opportunity to step up and show the country what they’re made of.”
“It’s very exciting. I think it’s my 10th season here. I can’t wait for the game” 👍@tomcooper26 says he’s ready to stand up as acting skipper in the absence of @travishead34 and injured teammate @calferguson12 #SheffieldShield pic.twitter.com/QfNCFTwnzU— West End Redbacks (@WestEndRedbacks) February 7, 2018
A host of in-form players, including Alex Ross, Kelvin Smith, Harry Nielsen and Nick Winter are in line to come into the side.
“The boys have been performing really well so they should come in with a lot of confidence,” Cooper said.
Peter Handscomb returns to Victoria’s squad to captain the Bushrangers this week, but the visitors will miss the services of powerful batsmen Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch.
The reigning Shield champions are without a win this summer, yet Cooper knows that will mean little once play begins on Thursday.
“We can’t underestimate them,” he said.
“They’ve also got a few big outs, like we do but I think it’s going to come down to who executes the basics better than the other team.”