Fletcher to name opener's replacement today

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The Independent Online

England are due to name their replacement for Marcus Trescothick this morning but coach Duncan Fletcher last night refused to speculate on who will be chosen.

Fletcher's choice appears likely to be confined to one of Robert Key, Ed Joyce or Owais Shah after it was confirmed to a press conference in Sydney late last night that the batting replacement will be drawn from England's Academy squad. A decision is expected to be made by 5pm Australian time ­ about 6am GMT today ­ after the squad has flown to Adelaide for the final warm-up match before the start of the Ashes.

Speaking to the media last night, Fletcher said a final decision on a replacement has not been made and refused to be drawn into a debate over who are the major contenders.

In Alastair Cook, England have a more than capable replacement for Trescothick. Since his Test debut in Nagpur where he opened the batting and scored a century, Cook has been viewed as Andrew Strauss' long-term partner. The 21-year-old, who shares the same birthday as Trescothick ­ 25 December ­ opens the batting for Essex and has the game and temperament to cope.

Trescothick's sudden departure will give Paul Collingwood an unexpected opportunity to play. Collingwood looked set to miss out but can now be pencilled in at No5 for Brisbane.

Ian Bell will gain promotion, too. Bell batted at four against the Australians in 2005 and struggled. He played superbly against Pakistan at the end of last summer but exposure to Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath with a new ball could cause problems.

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