Cook seeks whitewash as he builds for next leg


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The Independent Online

The international season should have come mercifully to an end today. England will play India in the final match of a one-day series they have already won.

India can barely wait to go home. They made that much pretty clear by declining invitations to the annual ICC awards dinner in London the other night, although their hotel was barely 15 minutes away.

For England it is not the end of the affair. Most of their players will be involved in the belatedly scheduled Twenty20 matches which are to be played at the Oval next Friday and Sunday. Not all of them have had long international seasons but enough have been involved in all forms of the game to consider it excessive. Graeme Swann, having been handed the captaincy, will now not think so.

Today's dead match is unlikely to find England at their most doggedly determined but they will certainly wish to deprive India of a last-gasp solitary international victory. England already have one eye on the return series in India next month when they are well aware that they will not have pitches which encourage sideways movement. Give India a sniff at this late stage and it may make it more difficult for them still away from home.

Whatever happens, Alastair Cook (above) can reflect on a sound start to his tenure as one-day captain.

England have a doubt about Ben Stokes with a recurrence of the dislocated finger which kept him out for two months of the season. Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler of Somerset have been called up as cover.

There will be one enforced change for Cook to make, with the injured Stuart Broad's place likely to go either to Jade Dernbach or Samit Patel.