Cricket

Cook to learn ODI fate

2014-09-23 21:21
Alastair Cook (AFP)

London - England captain Alastair Cook is set to find out if he will be skippering the side at next year's World Cup when the selectors announce Wednesday their squad to play seven one-day internationals in Sri Lanka.

If, as seems likely, Cook is confirmed as skipper for the tour of Sri Lanka, which takes place in November and December, it is hard to see how, barring injury, he won't also lead England at the one-day World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February and March.

Much of the speculation in the build-up to the squad announcement has focused on whether Cook is the right man to lead England as they go in search of their first World Cup title.

The left-handed opening batsman faced questions throughout all of England's recent home campaign but answered his Test critics by leading the side to a 3-1 series win over India following a defeat by Sri Lanka.

However, doubts remain about his suitability for white-ball cricket following a 3-1 one-day international series loss to world champions India that included several thumping defeats.

The major criticism of left-handed opener Cook, an orthodox Test batsman, as a one-day cricketer is that he scores too slowly at the top of of the order in terms of what is now required in modern limited overs internationals.

His critics point to an strike rate of under 80 as proof of Cook's unsuitability for 50-over cricket.

Former England off-spinner Graeme Swann, a friend of Cook's, was damning in his assessment last month.

"If he (Cook) truly believes England can win this World Cup...I am the greatest patriot there is but we do not have a cat in hell's chance," Swann said.

"I love Cooky totally, but I do not think he should be bothering playing one-day cricket any more."

But while England have found a more aggressive first-wicket partner for Cook in Alex Hales, there is no obvious replacement for the skipper as an opener, although middle-order batsmen Joe Root and Eoin Morgan have both been suggested as alternative captains.

The England team which managed a consolation win over India at Headingley this month is likely to be retained en bloc but the intriguing question surrounds the identity of the other four players who are set to comprise the rest of a likely 15-man squad.

In the injury-enforced absence of Stuart Broad, who is nevertheless set to recover in time for the World Cup, the 15 will be competing for the 14 squad places teams are restricted to at the global tournament.

But England's task will be complicated by the fact conditions in traditionally spin-friendly Sri Lanka are set to be very different to those they encounter in Australia and New Zealand.

But they will also be mindful that the last thing England need before a World Cup is another crushing one-day series reverse -- they've already lost their last five ODI campaigns under Cook.

All-rounder Ravi Bopara, surprisingly omitted against India, could be included in the Sri Lanka squad could Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid who, unlike England's current specialist slow bowlers, primarily turns the ball away rather than towards a right-handed batsman.

England ODI Tour to Sri Lanka 2014

21 November: 1st warm-up v Sri Lanka A (Day), Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo
23 November: 2nd warm-up v Sri Lanka A (Day), Tamil Union Oval, Colombo
26 November: 1st ODI (Day/Night), Colombo
29 November: 2nd ODI (Day), Colombo
3 December: 3rd ODI (D/N), Hambantota
6 December: 4th ODI (Day), Colombo
10 December: 5th ODI (D/N), Pallekelle
13 December: 6th ODI (Day), Pallekelle
16 December: 7th ODI (D/N), Colombo

Read more on:    ecb  |  alastair cook  |  cricket
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