England in India 2012-13

Batting spot 'totally open' - Cook

ESPNcricinfo staff

November 3, 2012

Comments: 33 | Text size: A | A

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.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by jmcilhinney 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.

Posted by jmcilhinney 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. ;-)

Posted by Juiceoftheapple 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.

Posted by Lmaotsetung 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.

Posted by JG2704 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.

Posted by RandyOZ on (November 5, 2012, 5:44 GMT)

Bell was shown up by Warne and has never recovered.

Posted by zenboomerang 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...

Posted by MattyP1979 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.

Posted by Meety 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!

Posted by Meety 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!

Posted by Meety on (November 5, 2012, 2:39 GMT)

@JG2704 on (November 04 2012, 21:09 PM GMT) - it would be more about captaincy from Dhoni (re: Bell opening), as I seriously doubt they will play less than two pacers. I do believe that Dhoni would look to turn to spin early under most situations unless pace was getting wickets & he would be more inclined to bowl spin v Bell early. IF I was the ENG selector I would select Bairstow, Cook, Trott, KP, Morgan, Prior, Patel, Bresnan, Swann, Anderson, Panesar. YES, I went with 4 specialists + Patel, he seems to be quite competant against spin in Indian conditions, has some form with the bat & should be worth 5 or 6 overs a day. Prior, IMO looks to me to have good organistation against spin, so I'd slot him up one spot. I'd give Morgan a go - despite a poor showing in UAE. I would do this as I would imagine he'd have some good memories playing in India (a stretch!). I'd use Bairstow to boss the top of the innings. I am about one good innings from Root, away from swapping with Morgan though!

Posted by bonobo on (November 4, 2012, 23:25 GMT)

I think when it comes to Bell and spin, one of the differences is that there is no mystery spinner like Ajmal. Bell more than anyone seems to to be scrambled by the doosra. Against conventional spin, he has a good technique and uses his feet more than most English batters, but still he has a poor record. Part of this might be temperament and maybe he lacks the bats speed or reach to getter under bowlers in dry conditions and attack (reasons for keeping Pietersen at 4, rather than opening). But I think once he has settled, he has the game to play spin effectively. Opening would give him the chance to settle againts the medium pace and if Ojha does come into the attack early, then there will still be more pace on the ball and the bounce more predictable. Still although I am not full of confidence, I think it would be poor for England to pick Compton and Root for the tour and then not back them to open. As a tyke i have a prejudice for Root and it looks like he can turn a ball a bit,

Posted by JG2704 on (November 4, 2012, 21:09 GMT)

@meety - If you were an Indian selector and Bell opened what would you do? Open with spin right? Surely MSD would not miss that trick. Also might it not help a free scorer lik KP with the ball coming onto the bat. Obviously it could go belly up but if I'd certainly consider it. Re Bell , you almost just have to look at his SR to see how well he's playing. If his SR is 60+ in tests then he's flowing and playing well. If it's 40 or less it usually means he's struggling and looking vulnerable IMO.

Posted by Meety on (November 4, 2012, 20:53 GMT)

@ JG2704 on (November 04 2012, 18:43 PM GMT) - my comment was based on Cook basically saying it was a shoot out between the two. If we looked at a "makeshift" opener, I would go Bell before KP. Reason being 1) I don't expect much out of Bell down the order v spin (rightly or wrongly), 2) Opening, Bell is more likely to play against pace even though he ultimately got out to pace in this match, 3) KP SHOULD be more likely to score middle order runs than Bell. That said, I'd give it to Bairstow!

Posted by JG2704 on (November 4, 2012, 18:43 GMT)

@Meety on (November 04 2012, 11:15 AM GMT) Would Root also not need a decent innings? I said before the series started that they could even make a bold move and open with KP - esp if neither Nick or Root look the part. It would certainly be a signal of intent and KP worked well as an opener in the shorter formats. It may be a square pegs in round holes way of doing it but if our top order aren't doing it and our lower middle candidates are I wonder if we could maybe try it and squeeze all our better form players in. I must admit I had Morgan nowhere near the squad but he is outplaying Nick and Bell so I wonder if we could even go Cook,KP,Trott,.Jonny, Patel,Prior,Bres,Swann,Jimmy,Onions, Monty or go with Morgan over Monty in a 6/1/4 . I know your compatriot ZB was not into the idea but KP has opened in ODIs and sometimes - like with your man Watson - it can work. Also less likelihood of him batting with his best mates lower down the order if he opens

Posted by JG2704 on (November 4, 2012, 18:32 GMT)

@sonu7 on (November 04 2012, 07:09 AM GMT) If Bell were to open the innings , then if you,I and many others recognise his problem against spin would MS not consider opening with spin?

Posted by JG2704 on (November 4, 2012, 18:31 GMT)

@Nutcutlet on (November 04 2012, 11:58 AM GMT) re "(albeit playing most of his cricket at Taunton where batting reputations can be artificially inflated), " - just a few stats from 2012. Nick did not play away at Sussex or Durham but in all the other away games except Lancs where he scored 22 and 27 n/o (still averaging 49) he scores either a 50 or 100. Edgbaston 133 , Trent Bridge 204 n/o , Oval 83 , Worcester 108 , Lords 69 n/o in a game saving attritional inns. I'm not saying Nick should get an overly long run if he doesn't produce the goods but his 2012 average has been inflated by scoring well and not because he made those runs at Taunton. I agree it was unforeseeable that he'd be an Eng player a few years ago but you can't argue with his 2012 stats which were not just from scoring runs at Taunton

Posted by Nutcutlet on (November 4, 2012, 11:58 GMT)

If Nick Compton doesn't cut it in these warm-up matches, then he is only likely to play in a Test or two if someone is injured/sick. This is his time if he's to break through to Test level; he came into consideration for this on the back of an astounding home season (albeit playing most of his cricket at Taunton where batting reputations can be artificially inflated), yet no one, not even a Somerset supporter like Juiceoftheapple, was able to anticipate NC's elevation to Test status & our Somerset supporter may yet be right. In other words, NC has been given his chance & there is a limited shelf-life on it. After all, he was never thought of as much more than a county journeyman bat before 2012. Joe Root, on the other hand, has been touted as class - def potential Test player - but still undercooked! It's an interesting contrast & competition, with JR now edging ahead. Flower & Cook wd, I think, like to give NC his chance & shield Root for now, but it looks as if JR will be pitched in.

Posted by Meety on (November 4, 2012, 11:15 GMT)

@JG2704 on (November 03 2012, 22:24 PM GMT) - since it is Compton v Root, I would of said Compton for any money. As of now thogh, I think Compton nneds a big 2nd innings or it will be Root. Root picking up a wicket probably hasn't gone unnoticed either!

Posted by 158notout on (November 4, 2012, 11:06 GMT)

@David Hill - haha thats really funny. A good joke, dropping an English spinner who is ranked higher than any Indian spinner. Nice one.

Posted by sonu77 on (November 4, 2012, 7:09 GMT)

I'm sure ian bell is going to struggle against ashwin & ojha. it's better he open the innings with cook bcoz he can settle before spinners comes to the scene.my xi for 1st test : 1.cook, 2.bell, 3.trott, 4.pietersen, 5.bairstow, 6.patel, 7.prior, 8.broad, 9.swann, 10.finn(if he is fit or onions), 11.anderson.

Posted by CricShanghai on (November 4, 2012, 5:24 GMT)

It's good to have a good starts with the bats for the English freshies during the warm-up matches but Compton, Root and the English should not be worry too much about it. What concerns many is the 'batting spots totally open' indicates the uncertainty and lack of confidence towards Compton who's selected for opening the innings...

Posted by   on (November 4, 2012, 3:21 GMT)

I agree with bonobo. If Root and compton fail in the second innings v Mumbai A then Bell should open in the final warm up and if that works then we have a place for Bairstow at 5. Bell has the technique to open and has done well as an opener in ODIs. Either Root or Compton gets a chance in the second test

Posted by Georgerarnold on (November 4, 2012, 1:08 GMT)

Can't help but feel sorry for Morgan. If he was playing for England during the last ashes when he was in the form of his life (instead of a struggling Collingwood) he would have surely been forgiven for his bad form in the UAE. Bell on the contrary has been in bad form for a while now and is a shoe-in in the England side. I'm a Somerset fan forever and would love it if Compton could cut it but I don't know why but I've got my doubts. Come back to Taunton, where it's safe sound.

Posted by bonobo on (November 4, 2012, 0:35 GMT)

I think juice of the apple has made a senisble summary from what i have seen of Compton. Most commentators seem to feel Root is on this tour a year early, but England should back the men they have picked. I am however not sure it is so wise to rule out Trott or possibly Bell taking the opening spot, as Cook has done. I understand with Bell away for the 2nd test, such a move would bring in a completly revamped middle order, but you cant help thinking England are denying themselves their best top 6, which would include Bairstow and Patel.There is a strong case that if Comp and Root are not the right men, Trott will be in early anyway and also that Bell is a poor starter against spin and may benefit from facing the new ball

Posted by Ozzbozz on (November 4, 2012, 0:09 GMT)

If England want to pick the best available opener then it has to Rob Key, but due to thier aegist policy that won't happen.

So that means Compton as Root is far too raw and could be scarred for life if he hardly scores.

Posted by Juiceoftheapple on (November 3, 2012, 23:19 GMT)

If someone told me 2 seasons ago Compton would be opening in tests for England I'd have said not a sniff, he's a terrible runner between the wickets, and does not possess batting flair, except he seemed to be impossible to get out this season, and there were flashes of this the last 2 years. He's extremely fit, has got a lot of determination, and a great defence, but he's as an attritional player that will not win too many admirers (just my opinion), other than picking off the bad balls from a sound but limited array of shots (perfect test opener?). But from what I hear from the pundits, Root is the special talent, and its 1-0 Root at the moment, with only 1 warm up to play. Patel has to play, as he seems the best player of spin in our team.

Posted by JG2704 on (November 3, 2012, 22:24 GMT)

@David Hill on (November 03 2012, 19:50 PM GMT) Regardless of what you think of Swann and I totally disagree with you ,if these tracks are turners or at least favour spin bowling , who is your wicket taking spin bowler ?

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (November 3, 2012, 21:32 GMT)

Move Bell to open with Cookie...same opening partnership as the ODI squad. Bairstow at #5 and Morgan or Patel at #6...problem solved. I'm worried about Finn. He said he felt pain and Eng are keeping quiet about the result of the scan plus calling up Meaker is not a good sign. Onions is a at the top of his game atm but Eng loses that x factor in the pace department.

Posted by   on (November 3, 2012, 19:50 GMT)

I think there is room for Bairstow and Patel in the side, Patel needs to come in at the expense of that joker Swann, here is my team: 1] Cook, 2] Compton, 3] Trott, 4] Pietersen, 5] Bell, 6] Bairstow, 7] Prior, 8] Patel, 9] Broad, 10] Anderson 11] Finn

Posted by   on (November 3, 2012, 17:43 GMT)

tooth for tooth select panesar give a taste of their own medicine good luck england

Posted by InsideHedge on (November 3, 2012, 17:34 GMT)

Compton is a far better bat than Root, every time I've watched the latter he's thrown his wicket away after getting into the 20s. It was a similar story in the recent Champions League altho I understand that was T20s.

From an Indian perspective, I would like to see Root open with Cook, I'm confident Root will add little to the England side at this time in his career. And, yes, pls. do pick Monty Panesar lol, I'm sure the Indians will be wary of his penetrative bowling. NOT. Onions is a dangerous bowler who's at the top of his game right now, I hope England leave him out.

Posted by bipulkumar on (November 3, 2012, 17:24 GMT)

I am rooting for root coz his bowling will be very handy for Indians.

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