England in India 2012-13 November 3, 2012

Batting spot 'totally open' - Cook

ESPNcricinfo staff

Alastair Cook has welcomed the competition for places in the England team ahead of selection for the first Test against India on November 15. England have question marks in several areas, the most pressing of those being who will open the batting with Cook in Ahmedabad.

By being picked for the opening tour match, it was felt Nick Compton was the preferred choice but his two single figure scores have eroded his advantage. Joe Root, although making only 28 in the first innings of the second tour match, at least spent time at the crease and demonstrated patience and solidity.

Cook said there is no possibility of Jonathan Trott moving up to open the batting, therefore the three tour matches have become a shoot-out between Compton and Root.

"It's a cut-throat business and they both have an opportunity to score runs and push their claim," Cook said. "They're at different stages of their career. One's far more experienced and has got more runs behind him. The other one's a lot younger and has impressed everyone at every stage of his career. We're still waiting to see so these are important days.

"It was totally open when we picked the squad. Andy Flower and I haven't seen a huge amount of either. I've played against Nick a couple of times, and I played in Joe Root's first ever game in 2009. It was important we came here with a clear mind and I think we've done that."

Cook's debut came as a 21-year-old on England's 2006 tour of India; he therefore knows the value of giving youth an opportunity. "Joe wouldn't be in the squad if we didn't think he was ready to play," Cook said. "My own situation was helped by the fact I'd been in Pakistan the tour before with the team as cover for somebody and got to know the England system better. Without that I'd have felt very uncomfortable turning up in Nagpur where I made my debut. But Joe's been here since the start of the tour and has got to know the lads."

With England choosing to add a debutant opener, they will retain their experienced middle order for the first Test of Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen, whose reintegration into the England squad was described by Graeme Swann as a "seamless progress".

"It needed to happen," Swann said. "Everyone was wondering how it would go and whether it would be as easy as it has been, but a lot of credit has to be given to Kevin for the way he has come in. It's just business as usual and the dressing room is a very happy place this week."

Pietersen was rested for the second tour match after making 23 against India A before falling to the left-arm spin of Yuvraj Singh. But his place in the Test side is assured and Swann said Pietersen's place among the team jokes has also returned. "In the changing room, no one is safe," Swann said. "KP's the butt of as many jokes as anyone else. He takes it fine, so it's great."

Pietersen's return leaves one batting spot available at No. 6 if England maintain their favoured four-man bowling attack. Samit Patel's form with the bat, a century against India A and an unbeaten 59 on day one at the Dr DY Patil Sports Academy, has all but cemented that spot.

Day two against Mumbai A will see the battle for a place in the bowling attack for the first Test take centre stage. An opening could be created if Steven Finn does not recover. Graeme Onions will look to stake his claim and Monty Panesar will hope to convince the selectors to revert to two specialist spinners, a policy England last employed in the UAE against Pakistan in January.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on November 6, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    @Meety on (November 05 2012, 02:39 AM GMT), if you were an England selector then the idea of opening with Bairstow wouldn't even cross your mind. Opening with Bell would be downright daring. Opening with Bairstow would be unthinkable.

  • John on November 6, 2012, 9:16 GMT

    With regards to Bell opening, I'm not against it but there's no way that it will happen in this series. Given that Bell will miss the second Test, there's no way that Flower and Cook will want to have a brand new opening partnership (for Tests at least) in the first Test and then open with someone else for one game and then go back to Bell again. That's just too much upheaval at a time when they are looking to gain some consistency. I reckon that they'd have moved Trott up and played Bell at #3 before opening with Bell anyway. Having a more attacking player open with Cook may not have been a bad idea otherwise. Cook and Compton opening together has the potential to be attrition cricket at its most attritional. The boundaries would come when they picked out the fielders who had nodded off for a moment. ;-)

  • Simon on November 5, 2012, 13:36 GMT

    Just wanted to say well done Compton on the knock today, albeit against poor bowling in his opinion, haha. Would like to caveat what I said by saying I would love nothing more than seeing 'Stone wall Compton' wearing down and blunting the Indian test bowlers, getting runs and ensuring we aren't the ones who cant last the distance over the 5 days each test will invariably run for.

  • John on November 5, 2012, 12:37 GMT

    I think the selectors are kicking themselves for not going back to Carberry...just a thought. Cupboard is bare for Eng openers...and as of now Cook is 10x more valuable than KP.

  • John on November 5, 2012, 9:09 GMT

    @zenboomerang on (November 05 2012, 05:36 AM GMT) Yeah , no worries. What is the middle order Cook named? I've not seen it and presuming they go 6/1/4 as anything else would be unthinkable then it would be 4 from Trott,KP,Bell,Jonny,Patel,Morgan. Now realistically it will be the former 3 plus 1 from the Jonny,Patel and Morgan. I'd presume they'd go with Patel as he is an extra bowling option and has scored in both inns he's played inc a ton and even took some wickets today but it would also seem harsh on the other 2 - particularly Jonny who came in under a tough situation vs SA and did well and then did well today. The more I think about it , the more I think Bell should be omitted as it seems bad when you have players who are in hot form staying on the outside when Bell - who in tests - has had a bad 2012 is in there because of his past form.

  • Randolph on November 5, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    Bell was shown up by Warne and has never recovered.

  • Roo on November 5, 2012, 5:36 GMT

    @JG2704... My dislike of KP opening was not that it wouldn't work, but more about getting the team to feeling KP is back in his normal position & everyone comfortable with that... Now that Cook has named his middle order, the point becomes just academic with Nick/Joe opening... I hope either one does well in what will be uncomfortable conditions for a maiden Test...

  • Mathew on November 5, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    Bell is a very fine player though he does indeed need a good knock. He is usually a very good player of spin and I hope he has a very good series. As for the predictions I think i will give them up, nothing seems certain anymore.

  • Andrew on November 5, 2012, 2:46 GMT

    @JG2704 on (November 04 2012, 21:09 PM GMT)- just want to clarify something. I believe that Dhoni will open with Zaheer rain hail or shine. Over the last 18mths or so, Zaheer has been at his best with the new ball & has lost the art of deception he use to have with the old ball, that made him such a good medium pacer. Although I'd be surprised if he didn't have spin on the other end if Bell was opening!

  • Andrew on November 5, 2012, 2:44 GMT

    @JG2704 on (November 04 2012, 21:09 PM GMT) - regarding Bell's S/R, I think v spin - he seems to have no way of "milking" a single. Oz batsmen have this problem in ODIs. He also seems to be unable to pick a doosra & is waiting back in his crease for it. This may not be as big of a drama in a series WITHOUT the UDRS, but it is Deathrow otherwise!

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