• Cook ponders new opening partner

    Alastair Cook wants whoever is going to be his new opening batting partner to make the position his own before England tour South Africa in December.

    Since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012, England captain Alastair Cook has had six partners at the top of the order. This season Adam Lyth joined Nick Compton, Joe Root, Michael Carberry, Sam Robson and Jonathan Trott as those who have walked out alongside the skipper.

    Compton’s nine appearances are the most of any of the sextet, although Root has flourished since he dropped down to the middle order and is now the No.3 ranked Test batsman in the world.

    Lyth made a Test hundred against New Zealand at Headingley at the start of the English summer, but averaged 12.77 during the Ashes.

    Lyth’s disappointing returns against Australia mean his place is now under threat ahead of October’s three Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

    With a tour of South Africa to follow the Pakistan series, England will need a batsman capable of handling the speed and swing of Proteas pace trio Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.

    ‘That is a really interesting decision the selectors have to make,’ Cook told BBC Radio Five.

    ‘I think there’s a selection meeting in the next 10 days. The conditions in Abu Dhabi will be different to what we have just played in here where it nipped all over. I’d love someone to jump out and nail that slot.

    ‘Adam didn’t quite score the amount of runs he’d liked to have done [this season] but he played a major part in the side – he was a brilliant catcher. He’s obviously scored a lot of runs for Yorkshire over the last couple of years and he’s gone in his first seven Test matches and found it tough against two very good attacks, and yet he’s scored a hundred in one of them.

    ‘The selectors have tough calls. They have made some big calls in the summer and were proved right.’

    Another option is Nottinghamshire’s Alex Hales, who is a regular in England’s limited overs sides but is yet to make his Test debut.

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