Sunday, May 07, 2006

Cook Report reads well

Earlier today it was announced that Essex's Alastair Cook will bat at number 3 for England in the First Test against Sri Lanka at Lords on Thursday. He's not to be confused with Alistair Cook, the journalist and broadcaster - which probably wouldn't happen for the obvious reason Alistair Cook is dead. I'm going off on a tangent.
Cook came to national prominence when he smashed 214 off the Australians last September (Essex creamed 500 off the Aussies in a day). Injuries led to him being called up to the squad in Pakistan, although he was not used. In the following series against India Marcus Trescothick's sudden departure gave Cook his chance and he took it scoring 60 and 104* on his debut.
The decision to have Cook at 3 after Strauss and Trescothick (both of whom have already posted domestic centuries this season) is brave and forward thinking. Ian Bell, who interestingly has a brother called Keith, will fight it out with Paul Collingwood for the final batting position with Kevin Pietersen at number 4.
England's batting averages make for encouraging reading:

Strauss 45.38
Trescothick 45.47
Cook 61
Pietersen 42.38
Collingwood 40.50
Bell 39.65
Freddie 33.47
and that's not to forget the injured captain Michael Vaughan (42.94)

The bowling ranks have been depleted somewhat with Giles, Jones, Harmison and Anderson all missing. The selectors have plumped for Gloucestershire's Jon Lewis, a sort of Martin Bicknell, very English cricketer who consistently offers swing and accuracy, but seems destined to never be in favour and Lancashire's promising Sajid Mahmood, who I think is Amir Khan's cousin. Mahmood is pacier and has more potential, Durham's Liam Plunkett is also in the squad and his batting may give him the nod. In the spin department Monty Panesar is preferred to the veteran Shaun Udal - figures of 5-32 against Somerset didn't fail to catch the selector's eye (which is like Sauron's).

So Beef's starting XI would be:

M.E Trescothick
A.J Strauss
A.N Cook
K.P Pietersen
P.D Collingwood
A Flintoff
G.O Jones †
L.E Plunkett
M.J Hoggard
J. Lewis
M. Panesar

Given my previous prediction record (I still have a poll up in the sidebar about a bloke who never got the England job...) I'm sure this won't be team. Selectors will probably go for Mahmood over Lewis, but we shall see.

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