Cook defends England batting order

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The Independent Online

Alastair Cook defended England's decision not to change their batting line-up in the face of a mammoth 242 target during yesterday's 84-run Twenty20 defeat against South Africa at Centurion.

The tourists opted for their conventional combinations, leaving the stand-in captain to open alongside Joe Denly with the likes of big-hitting Eoin Morgan, Luke Wright, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen all held back.

In the end, England eventually finished with 157 for eight and the decision dumbfounded the South Africa coach Mickey Arthur, but Cook was convinced there was no need for change, casting his mind back to Friday night's opening win in which England posted more than 200 without tinkering with the line-up.

"There were thoughts of it, but we decided not to go with that," he said. "We got 200 the other day playing with that order, so we decided to stick with it.

"Unfortunately the big hits, we didn't hit them as cleanly as they did. In hindsight, we could have maybe changed it, but whether it would have changed the result I don't know, because 240 is a lot of runs."

That was not the only decision questioned by Arthur, who was also surprised by a lack of confidence shown in Adil Rashid - the England leg-break bowler was pulled out of the attack after just one over in which he conceded 25 with his captain showing more confidence in part-timers Pietersen and Denly.

Cook, who was thrown into the role of captain after regular Twenty20 skipper Paul Collingwood was ruled out earlier in the day due to a stiff back, added: "I did (think of bringing Rashid back) a couple of times.

"My instinct was there to bowl him, but I did change my mind.

"I bowled Joe Denly and Kevin, which probably might have been the conservative option for me. But obviously Joe got the wicket with his first ball."

Arthur was perplexed by both decisions and questioned England's ability to be bold.

He said: "I must say I was very surprised they didn't do that (change the order). I thought they would certainly have used Eoin Morgan and Jonathan Trott at the top of the order with KP batting three.

"We talk about us perhaps being a little but unpredictable, I thought England were very predictable today."