Ian Baker - Troubled Cook remains under pressure
10 Nov 2010 - 10:52:27
One warm-up match down, two to go before the first Test and already the pressure is on Alastair Cook. It is abundantly clear that seven into six does not go and so one batsman will miss out for the Ashes opener in Brisbane in just over two weeks time.
Eoin Morgan was omitted for the warm-up win over Western Australia and can consider himself unfortunate. If the team for that game in Perth is the likely first Test line-up, Morgan will be desperate to prove the selectors wrong.
In my view has to play, he offers something that the rest of the order do not - a different style, a Graham Thorpe type player. Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell will all be looking over their shoulders and Cook at the moment is probably most fearful, although it will take a change of policy from selectors in selecting Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell as opening partner to Andrew Strauss in order to change things.
Cook has struggled for some time. A century in Perth on England's last tour of Australia and 95 in the winning Test at Lord's were two decent scores - but he has not passed 50 in his other 17 innings against the old enemy, with Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and co having a bit of a hold over him.
His game has become predominately leg-side and still has a weakness outside of off. His Durban century was remarkable given the number of scoring shots on the on-side.
He struggled against Pakistan - away from his Oval ton - and has not started this tour in particularly good shape. Two single scores (five and nine) against Western Australia are hardly likely to put any fear into the hearts of Ricky Ponting's men.
You get the impression that the next two matches against South Australia and Australia A are essential in terms of Cook's career and potentially England's Ashes chances.
Cook needs a good score in a maximum of four innings left. Otherwise the whole balance of the top order may be changed. The selectors do not want to drop Cook but they may feel they have no choice unless he delivers.
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