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Cook urges England batsmen to use county performances to cement Test place

Cook urges England batsmen to use county performances to cement Test place
Alastair Cook believes England Test team is far from settled despite their series victory against South Africa.
©REUTERS / Action Images

England Test captain Alastair Cook stated that the players hoping to make it into the Test side for the upcoming international season must target county performances to stake a claim.

Though England have most recently won their bilateral series against South Africa, the inconsistent performance of their top order has been a cause for concern.

Apart from Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, none of the England batsmen managed to put in consistent performances.

Despite the series win against South Africa, Cook feels that the England batting line-up is far from settled and wants the players to use their domestic appearances as a launch pad for the Test team.

“A lot of things aren’t sorted,” Cook said.

“You win a series away from home against the No.1 team in the world (South Africa last December and January), but there’s still all to play for and I think that’s where we’re at as a Test side.

“The top order didn’t perform as well as we would have liked in South Africa so there are places up for grabs.

“People in county cricket should be targeting these four weeks or so to put their name forward.”

Since the retirement of Andrew Strauss, England have failed to find a suitable opening partner to Cook and the most recent batsman to don that role was Alex Hales.

From the four Tests against South Africa, Hales managed just 136 runs at an average of 17.00, hitting a solitary fifty in eight innings.

Though Cook is backing Hales to succeed if given another chance, he knows that the performance of Hales in the South African series was not enough for him to cement his spot in the team.

“Alex is a good character.

“He’s got a couple of weeks break and then some games for Notts.

“He will know runs will do him good.

“I think in an ideal world you want to give someone more than four games to establish themselves in Test cricket.

“But the selectors have got an interesting choice because we haven’t quite got it right in that opening position.

“Eight have come in since Andrew Strauss retired and no one’s nailed it.

“So when you average 17 in a series you’re not guaranteed selection for the next one and that’s the way it should be because there’s a lot of good players out there.”

England were not helped by the fact that their senior batsman Ian Bell was dropped after the tour of the United Arab Emirates against Pakistan.

Bell, who averaged just 25.95 in 2015 was dropped as the national selector James Whitaker felt that the 33-year-old will benefit from some time away from international cricket.

Cook admitted that Bell was indeed a part of England’s plans for the future and feels that by stringing together a set of good performances in county cricket, the classy right-hander can force his way back into the Test side.

“I haven’t spoken to Ian for a while but he’s a hundred per cent still in the frame.

“I think he’s quite enjoyed the break from the limelight.

“He knows how important early season runs are and he also knows his experience and record count in his favour.

“It’s going to be an interesting few weeks.”

England have a busy Test match schedule in the upcoming season as they host Sri Lanka and Pakistan for a total of seven matches between May and August.

© Cricket World 2016