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.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition