Australia A v England XI, Tour match, Hobart November 5, 2013

Cook open to batting reshuffle


England will ponder a shuffle of their Test match batting order before the return Ashes encounter begins in Brisbane, after their captain Alastair Cook admitted his team could not afford a repeat of the early stumbles that pockmarked a 3-0 series victory at home earlier this year.

Australia's pacemen were consistently able to perforate the England top order, pushing the Man of the Series Ian Bell to great heights as he continually bailed out the earlier batsmen in a manner reminiscent of a prime Michael Clarke.

Following on from this amid his flurry of invective at Ricky Ponting and Cook, Shane Warne had reckoned earlier this week that keeping the young batsman Joe Root at the top of the order may "crucify" a promising young player, suggesting instead that the taller, older left-hander Michael Carberry might be a better partner for England's captain in Australia.

Before training at Bellerive Oval, Cook not only batted away Warne's criticisms of his captaincy but also left open the possibility that such changes might just be made. In a typically careful discussion of his team, Cook lauded Root's adaptability while also saying the doubt surrounding two batting places had created a healthy sense of tension and competition in an otherwise settled squad. He then closed by stating gravely that the early innings misadventures of July and August could not be repeated.

"Joe is a fantastic player. I think anyone who saw his 180 at Lord's and his hundred against New Zealand can see the class he has got," Cook said. "He has been outstanding in all forms of the game and being able to bat in any situation is one of his greatest strengths. Whether he's batting at six against New Zealand or heads up the rate in the one-day game, I don't think I have seen a younger player adapt to a situation as well as he does as quickly as he does. He's a pretty unflappable guy.

"We haven't decided on our batting line-up. It's very different to 2010-11 where we came here very clear what our full strength side was and on that tour we played the first two warm-up games as that Test match XI. In this situation circumstances are different. We are unsure of pretty much two places and it's exciting because everyone in the squad knows that and watching that competition grow, if someone grabs that opportunity he is going to find himself in a good place."

Should Carberry slip into the top six, and so leave Root free to move down the order, it would represent a change to England's apparent plans on their departure for Australia. The assembly of a squad with a trio of potential middle-order players in Jonny Bairstow, Gary Ballance and Ben Stokes illustrated where the team director Andy Flower's major doubts had existed. Nonetheless, Root's adaptability and temperament are highly valued, while at 33 Carberry has been chosen less as a future investment than a readymade top-order option after the fashion of Chris Rogers for Australia.

Either way, Cook is adamant that England's batsmen cannot be anywhere near as courteous to Australia's new-ball bowlers this time around. The window for wickets provided by the new ball is narrower down under, as the Kookaburra loses its shine and ability to bend rather quicker than the Dukes in England, making early incisions even more critical than they had been in the northern summer.

"Especially with the Kookaburra ball it's a situation we can't allow to happen again," Cook said. "Sometimes in England with overhead conditions that does happen. In Australia the bigger scores do happen and we know that is an area of major improvement we needed to do coming into the series."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Graham on November 7, 2013, 6:07 GMT

    FFL - Sorry your going to have to explain to me who is Manchester United? Just didn't understand your analogy. However, you did lose me at Root has the best technique in world cricket. Pretty sure the Aussirs aren't to worriedabout him.

  • rajmohan on November 7, 2013, 5:00 GMT

    @popcorn Cook and Carberry were running tired at 318/0......

  • Rajaram on November 7, 2013, 2:41 GMT

    So Make no mistake - England are running scared! Time for us to expose the Poms and open up their psychological wounds and fears.No courtesy please.Mitchell Johnson, knock their blocks off! And a finger or two Like you did Graeme Smith and Jacque Kallis.

  • S on November 6, 2013, 23:00 GMT

    Lets face it - someone had to take the fall for the bizarre English batting against NZ at home. Trott was criticized for his slow rate, Cook butchered for his defensive captaincy. However, both are above getting axed. So, Compton with his 7(45) took the fall. He was most dispensable of the lot. Carberry's ship has sailed. Kinda unfortunate, but sadly true.

  • S on November 6, 2013, 22:50 GMT

    Since Bell rarely ever performs outside England, it will be upto Cook and KP to score bulk of the runs for England. Trott, Root can play support roles. But Cook and Kp are the key.

  • j on November 6, 2013, 16:36 GMT

    Root has probably the best technique of any batsman in world cricket so to have him at 6 would make England's batting order look ridiculously good. Carberry's an awesome opening bat, is in supreme form and has certainly earned a go. To compare the two batting orders on paper right now is like comparing Manchester United and The Queen's Head Sunday XI. Let's not forget also that Root has got all the tricks in the book. In the most recent Ashes, he was playing the Switch Hit to the Australian opening bowlers, which you've got to admit you don't see usually if at all from an opener. So much for the Australian bowling stocks, too: Copeland and Cutting were hailed as the next generation up to this match, today that reputation has been utterly smashed.

  • John on November 6, 2013, 12:20 GMT

    @ScottStevo on (November 5, 2013, 20:16 GMT) I did say it was a road and didn't say it was against top opposition , but then again it is also his most recent form. 2 months can be a long time in cricket , we see players go out of form in that time and come back into form and vice versa. Look at how Bell did in the home series vs NZ and compare to how he did vs Aus. Obviously a knock on a road vs a substandard attack doesn't equate that he'll be in similar form in the tests but neither does form from a few months ago mean that he'll be in similar test form this time around

  • John on November 6, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    @CS - MC is proving me wrong as it stands. I'm guessing the difference both in pressure and quality of bowling in the tests will be a whole lot different but he now looks nailed on to open so well done on your insight. I just presumed that Compton was the scapegoat for Eng's long term masterplan as it seems they couldn't wait to out him. Maybe they just couldn't wait to out him anyway

    @Milhouse79 on (November 6, 2013, 1:37 GMT) Not heard that one re Gooch but it could be the case . For me Eng change their policies depending on who it is

  • John on November 6, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Toff on (November 6, 2013, 6:02 GMT), I don't think that Cook actually had a genuine back injury but rather just some stiffness that has righted itself since. I'm guessing that his back probably felt better as the day went on. Given that Cook didn't play the first game and Carberry is batting for a place in the first Test, I think that it's reasonable that they didn't retire. Had this been a 3-day game then I would think differently but there's still plenty of time for the rest of the batsman to have a good hit with 3 days still to play. Broad must be wondering whether he'll get a bowl at all!

  • kieran on November 6, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    What a boring days play, I want my 6 hours back. I feel sorry for the A guys, & I must say if this is a deliberate plan to starve England of any real challenge I completely disagree with it. Selecting a team with just 2 medium pacers and a couple of all-rounders is pathetic. This clearly indicates none of the AA XI are in contention for test selection. One positive is that England might select Carberry for Brisbane. Leading edges, edges through gully, a dozen plays & misses...yes please. England won't get much out of this match except some miles in the legs.

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