Cook ready to cover as Strauss leaves for home

The England opener Andrew Strauss will fly home today to attend the impending birth of his first child. It means the 28-year-old will miss the final Test against Pakistan in Lahore but he is set to return for the one-day internationals, starting on 10 December.

England could now opt to play the uncapped Alastair Cook as an opener on Tuesday. The 20-year-old Essex opener scored a double hundred against Australia in the summer and, although he was originally called up as cover for Michael Vaughan, he could make his debut. England could also move Vaughan back up the order to open the batting and bring back the all-rounder Paul Collingwood.

Strauss has struggled in this series, making nine, 23, 12 and nought in the two Tests. He had always made it known that he wanted to be with his wife, Ruth, for the birth. He said last month: "I have always believed there are some things in life that are more important than cricket. This, for me, is one of them and the England management have been very supportive."

* The Zimbabwe captain, Tatenda Taibu, yesterday cut all ties with cricket in his home country "I've had problems with the way Zimbabwe cricket is run for the past few years," Taibu said.