Three areas of concern for Alastair Cook with Test series approaching...

England may have to pick an opening batsman for the first Test on a hunch

1 THE OPENERS

Neither Yorkshire's Joe Root nor Somerset's Nick Compton has yet put forward a good case to be the heir to the retired Andrew Strauss and be the man to step forward and open the England innings alongside captain Alastair Cook. The 29-year-old Compton fell to a three-ball duck in the first warm-up match and on Saturday was bowled, playing down the wrong line, for a solitary run in the fifth over of the second warm-up match. Hardly the stuff of his early County Championship form when only rain prevented him reaching 1,000 runs before the end of May. The highly promising Root, 21, fared slightly better on Saturday in his only innings so far on tour but his 28 was eked out over 75 deliveries.

If England's depleted attack can muster six more wickets between them tomorrow morning, the pair will have another chance to stake a claim in England's second innings. Failing that they will both head to the third warm-up match with it all to prove. One of them will have to be selected for the first Test because Cook has already said that Jonathan Trott will not be asked to open, and Ian Bell is out of nick. So without runs from Compton or Root, Cook and Andy Flower could soon find themselves picking an opening batsman on a hunch – not an ideal scenario for New Zealand at home; for India away, it couldn't be much worse.

2 THE NO 6

On the face of it Samit Patel, the Nottinghamshire all-rounder, would appear to have the No 6 slot sewn up: he scored an impressive century in England's first warm-up match and followed that up with 59 not out in the first innings of the second in Mumbai.

However, is he really good enough to play for England as the second spinner? Monty Panesar was the most impressive bowler yesterday when England were searching for wickets and it was he who removed the obdurate No 3 India Test batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, albeit after he made 87.

Patel bowled nine overs for 37 runs yesterday but was not threatening and his bowling in the first warm-up match was not too taxing for the batsmen either.

Jonny Bairtsow has done all he can to throw his hat into the ring as a potential No 6 batsman with a lovely knock of 118 on Saturday. Eoin Morgan has also done his cause no harm with big runs in both warm-up games. For either to play at No 6, Panesar would have to come in at No 11, meaning England have an attack of two spinners and two seamers plus bits and pieces bowlers (Trott, Pietersen, Root).

3 THE SEAMERS

As they boarded the plane to India, England's management would probably have been thinking of a bowling attack of the seasoned campaigners James Anderson and Stuart Broad plus Steve Finn, who was the best bowler against South Africa last summer.

Finn's injury is a real worry and he now looks likely to miss the first Test at least. With Broad following him to the scanning department because of a heel injury, England are in danger of losing two thirds of their first-choice seam attack.

Tim Bresnan would be the next cab off the rank and he at least strengthens the batting, but in his last three Tests he has taken five wickets at 78 runs each.

Graeme Onions is in the mix but he was tidy yesterday rather than threatening. He lacks the pace and the awkward height and bounce that Finn can generate. England have also called for the Surrey quick Stuart Meaker, who is as fast as Finn but, like Onions, is not as tall and therefore doesn't get the lift of Finn.

There is the option of England only playing two seamers and two spinners – as discussed in point 2 – but it would put a big burden on the two quicks and would probably require Trott to bowl more overs than England would ideally want.

Suddenly, the problems of "reintegrating" Kevin Pietersen into the England fold seem to be the least of Flower and Cook's problems.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
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

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick