Cook's return causes selection dilemma

Alastair Cook's return to fitness provides England's selectors with an intriguing dilemma as they contemplate their team for tomorrow's fourth NatWest Series match against New Zealand.

A shoulder injury prevented Cook from being considered for selection in the opening three matches and his recovery coincides with England's dreadful batting display in Bristol on Saturday, when they fell 22 runs short of the Black Caps modest total of 182. The choice of the selectors will give a strong indication of the tactics England want to employ as they attempt to find a formula that can win them a major limited over tournament.

Ian Bell and Luke Wright have opened the batting in England's four limited over games against New Zealand this summer with mixed results. In the Twenty20 international and first ODI Bell and Wright gave their side a reasonable start, compiling 48 and 49 for the first wicket. Both games were won. In the last two matches the pair have added nought and three whilst batting together, and but for the farce at Edgbaston both games would have been lost.

Cook is not a dasher, as a one-day strike rate of 68 - runs per 100 balls faced - suggests, but he is consistent. During the winter he was England's highest one-day run scorer in both Sri Lanka and New Zealand, scoring 339 runs in 10 matches.

The dilemma for England is do they return to the days when a steady but limited specialist Test opener was employed, or do they attempt to follow the example set by other countries, who position an attacking and powerful stroke-player at the top of the order? For the remaining two matches of the series they are likely to carry on as they are, with Bell and Wright looking to take the match to the opposition. But the pair need to offer more than they have to date if the tactic is to continue against South Africa, a stronger side than New Zealand, later in the summer.

England will be tempted to strengthen their bowling too now that Ryan Sidebottom has recovered from a stiff back. But whom will he replace? Stuart Broad and Chris Tremlett were excellent in Bristol, conceding just 38 runs in 20 overs. James Anderson, who leaked 61 valuable runs on Saturday, could be rested but he is England's most experienced bowler. With the Sir Allen Stanford $20 million match and Indian Premier League contracts on the horizon, no player will want to spend too much time on the sidelines.

A player who can expect to capitalise on all the money coming in to cricket is Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian captain. Dhoni is in the process of replacing Sachin Tendulkar as India's most loved and marketable cricketer, and will therefore have a huge influence on the direction in which cricket heads over the next decade.

Dhoni, like several other leading players, believes that 50 over cricket could become a casualty as the demand for Twenty20 grows. “I think there is room for all three formats of the game,” said Dhoni at a press conference to promote next year's inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in England. “Test cricket is very different and has its own place. I don't see that changing and I am not worried about the future of Test cricket. People still see it as the top of the sport and it is so different from Twenty20 that I think it is safe.

“If there is one format that could suffer it is the 50-over game because it is more like Twenty20. It was brought in to make cricket quicker and more exciting but now Twenty20 has brought that to another level. It's over in three hours - it is like a movie for the whole family to enjoy. So ODIs could suffer but I hope not because I think 50-over cricket has a place of its own. In fact, I think Twenty20's influence on 50-over cricket has been positive overall. It has helped batsmen change their idea of what a good score is and it has made the cricket a lot more positive.”

Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
People walk through Autumn leaves in St James's Park yesterday
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits