Cook picked to lead England Lions side against Bangladesh

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The Independent Online

Alastair Cook will captain the England Lions when they play Bangladesh in next week's four-day warm-up match at the County Ground in Derby.

Cook led England's Test side on their tour of Bangladesh earlier this year when the regular captain, Andrew Strauss, opted to skip the six-week itinerary, but is free to lead the side after not being selected for the England team that have reached the final of the ICC World Twenty20.

Cook is joined in the Lions team by Michael Carberry, whom he opened alongside in the first Test in Bangladesh, while Monty Panesar is called up despite not being named in the England and Wales Cricket Board performance squad last month.

Last year's Professional Cricketers' Association young player of the year, James Taylor, was also included alongside fellow young up-and-comers Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and James Harris.

Cook's inclusion, though, will give him an extra opportunity to find some form before the first Test at Lord's, which starts on 27 May. The left- hander has averaged just 28.37 in Essex's opening five games of the County Championship season.

The national selector Geoff Miller also said it was a chance for the 25-year-old to further develop his leadership qualities. "Alastair Cook has an opportunity to further enhance his captaincy skills after a successful tour to Bangladesh and his knowledge of the Bangladesh side will be invaluable for his team," Miller said.

"Several of these players were involved in the England and England Lions squads this winter and have had strong performances for their counties this season while Moeen Ali and James Harris are promising young players who have been rewarded for playing pivotal roles for Worcestershire and Glamorgan respectively.

"The Lions matches are excellent opportunities for players pushing for England places to show what they are capable of."

The England Lions match against Bangladesh starts next Wednesday in Derby.

Will Smith will no longer captain the reigning county champions Durham after the club announced they had come to a mutual agreement with the right-hander to end his tenure.

The news comes just a day after Durham suffered their first defeat in the Championship since August 2008 – an innings and 62-run rout at the hands of the current leaders Nottinghamshire. Durham's wicketkeeper-batsman Phil Mustard will step into the captaincy role.

Smith led Durham to their second successive Championship title last season, but both he and the team have struggled this term. The 27-year-old has averaged just 16.28 as Durham have failed to win any of their opening four Championship matches.

"I am disappointed that things have not worked out as captain," Smith said. "I will remain fully committed to ensuring that the club continue to prosper under Phil's guidance. He will add great spirit and character to the role and it is fitting that a north-east lad is entrusted with it."

Head coach Geoff Cook believes Mustard, who has made 10 one-day appearances for England, could serve to turn their poor start around.

"I'm delighted that Phil has accepted the role," he said. "This adjustment is an opportune time for us to kick-start our season while at the same time giving Phil the chance to move his career up to the next stage."

Mustard, 27, said after his appointment: "I'm honoured to have been offered the role of captain at the club where I came up through the academy and have spent the whole of my professional career."

The New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond has announced his retirement from all cricket, ending a once-promising career which was frustrated by injury.

England Lions team: Alastair Cook (captain, Essex), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Michael Carberry (Hampshire), Steven Davies (Surrey), Andrew Gale (Yorkshire), James Harris (Glamorgan), Steve Kirby (Gloucestershire), Monty Panesar (Sussex), Liam Plunkett (Durham), James Taylor (Leicestershire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire).

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