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May 30, 2013
The red ball and white kit that England have enjoyed for the last couple of weeks have been swapped for a red kit and a white ball, a matter of days after the they beat the weather at Headingley
Alastair Cook said he could not remember a quicker turnaround in formats during his career (at least the bus trip to Canberra after the 2010-11 Ashes was for a warm-up match) although he believes his players' experience of the crammed county schedule will help them switch into one-day mode in time for Friday's opening one-day international.
"I reckon this is the quickest turnaround I can remember in my career," Cook said. "I think it's a skill we've learned from county cricket, we've been brought up with a four-day game followed by a one-day game straightaway so it's not unusual for us at that level.
"Clearly it's slightly unusual to have such a quick turnaround in international cricket but it's more a case of making sure you're switched on mentally, making sure you've got your game plan in order for the change of format rather than technique wise."
This is where the intense nature of the season comes into focus. Three ODIs in six days at Lord's, Southampton and Trent Bridge lead straight into the Champions Trophy. Then, of course, there is something significant happening from early July. While talk of the Ashes may not, after all, actually be banned by England, perhaps it should only be mentioned in hushed tones, although the sight of Kevin Pietersen netting at Lord's was another reminder of what is ahead.
The convergence of England's Test and one-day sides, which has occurred over the last couple of seasons, especially when playing at home, is highlighted with only two of the eleven that finished at Headingley on Tuesday - Nick Compton and Matt Prior - not involved in this squad. Eoin Morgan, recently back from the IPL, and Jos Buttler return to the middle order.
There was, perhaps, a hint of the issues England will face through the rest of the season when Cook spoke of a few "niggles" in the camp, although he would not divulge any further information, even the identity of those players carrying minor concerns. "I can't tell you, sorry," Cook said.
An educated guess would suggest that Stuart Broad could be one. He appeared to hurt his right knee while diving to take a caught-and-bowled off Brendon McCullum on the final day at Headingely. "It's always the way with such a quick turnaround from a Test match, there's always a couple of niggles flying around we're just going to wait and see," Cook said.
Although not injury-related, England may have to contend with the last-minute loss of Tim Bresnan, whose wife is due to give birth at any time. Jade Dernbach, the Surrey pace bowler, has been added as cover, although it would make sense if other members of the Champions Trophy squad were given priority.
Cook, however, acknowledged the tricky balancing act he faces in these three matches, with them being a fully-fledged series rather than official warm-ups, which provide greater flexibility and do not carry kudos or ranking points.
"You can't treat these matches as warm-ups at all," he said. "As an England side you try and win as many games as you can. There might be time in this three-match series where we might change a combination to have a look. But if we change a combination it's not as a warm-up, we're still going to try and win that game but there be time where we change things."
With that in mind, Cook did not guarantee all members of the squad a match before the Champions Trophy, although he did float the possibility that those spending time carrying the drinks could be sent back to their counties if it is felt they need extra match time.
Someone who England hope will soon be spending time back in county cricket is Pietersen. He arrived at Lord's to net with his team-mates after returning to training earlier this week and was also due to meet with team director Andy Flower.
"It's great news for England cricket to have him back playing again," Cook told Sky Sports News. "He's practising first of all and it's encouraging that he's progressing well from that injury. Things are looking positive on that note and hopefully it's not too long until he's out in the middle."
Pietersen looked in high spirits as he edged closer to a return at some point in June - perhaps as early as the Championship match against Sussex at Arundel - when the serious task of preparing for Australia will begin. However that, as England like to keep reminding us, is very much in the future.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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