England in Sri Lanka 2014-15 December 4, 2014

Cook handed one-match suspension

Play 01:03
Taylor in line to replace Cook

Alastair Cook will miss the fourth one-day international against Sri Lanka after being handed a one-match suspension for England's slow over-rate in Hambantota on Wednesday. Eoin Morgan will lead in Cook's absence.

It was the team's second over-rate offence in ODIs within a 12-month period, following the Cardiff match against India, which means Cook's penalty was automatic once the ruling was handed down by match referee David Boon. An ICC release said Cook, who was also fined 20% of his match fee, had pleaded guilty and therefore no formal hearing was required. The rest of the team were fined 10% of their match fees.

England were 18 minutes behind the clock during Sri Lanka's innings - reduced to 35 overs after heavy rain two overs into the match - and although after the game, which England won by five wickets, Cook said he hoped for leniency from the officials due to the size of the ground that has not been forthcoming.

Cook's absence creates a couple of potentially awkward situations for England. There is no official vice-captain on this trip and although Morgan has been the regular stand-in ODI captain he is in a form slump worse than Cook's: since the start of the one-day series in West Indies in March he has scored 207 runs at 15.92 in 13 innings and he fell for 1 in Hambantota, caught hooking against Angelo Mathews.

Morgan has long been viewed as a lynchpin of England's one-day side - and his numbers before this difficult year add weight to that view - but his mantle as the team's finisher has started to slip with the development of Jos Buttler and Joe Root and the under-rated abilities of Ravi Bopara. Meanwhile, as Morgan struggles, James Taylor remains on the sidelines still waiting for a chance to add to his two ODI caps.

Taylor's chance could now come courtesy of Cook's suspension, although it is not beyond the realms that England opt to recall Ian Bell who was dropped for the third ODI to accommodate Alex Hales. It is England's top-order combination that is the other area that Cook's absence will add intrigue too. Hales is likely to open alongside the in-form Moeen Ali in Colombo on Sunday and if the pair prove a success the pressure will continue to grow to make that England's long-term solution.

Cook, however, did show some fleeting moments of finding some form as he made 34 off 42 during the opening stand of 84 in 11 overs alongside Moeen which set up England's chase in Hambantota. Two drives off Mathews, especially, stood out for the footwork and position he got himself into although his downfall, pushing at a delivery angled across him, was very familiar.

He also had to battle a troublesome back, although he played down the problem after the match as something that just flares up from time to time. The lengthy bus journey from Colombo to Hambantota may not have helped in that regard.

Andrew McGlashan is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments