Cook to lead England on Bangladesh tour
As predicted, the England selectors took the controversial decision to rest Ashes winning Captain Andrew Strauss for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh, installing Alastair Cook in his place.
Cook, who has long been identified as a future skipper, will lead a touring party which will also be missing fast-bowler James Anderson.
With a relentless international schedule including a World T20, Ashes series and 50 over World Cup scheduled for the next 18 months, the England selectors took the unprecedented step of resting Strauss for a tour which England will be expected to win comfortably.
The opening batsman struggled for consistency during the recent tour of South Africa and despite showing glimpses of some fluent form, he struggled to convert good starts into big scores, once his most valuable asset.
Anderson on the other hand has struggled with a knee complaint for some time and the England medical team are desperate to avoid England’s senior fast-bowler going under the knife. With seam bowling options worryingly sparse the prospect of a long lay-off for the leader of the attack is a frightening thought, particularly ahead of the trip down under.
Cook will also lead the team for the three match ODI series despite rarely being a part of the limited overs set-up in recent times, his last match coming in India in November 2008. England are keen however for the Essex batsman to gain as much experience leading the side as possible. He has been Strauss’ vice-captain for the past twelve months and it will be interesting to assess his captaincy credentials.
Meanwhile the uncapped Yorkshire fast-bowler Ajmal Shahzad has been called up to both squads whilst Kent off-spinner James Tredwell and the Hampshire batsman Michael Carberry, both of whom were called upon during the South Africa tour keep their place in the side.
Tredwell’s selection means the young leg-spinner Adil Rashid misses out along with Monty Panesar whose slide down the pecking order is confirmed. Carberry, who had an excellent county season last summer, may be in line to open the batting in place of the captain despite being more experienced in the middle order.
National Selector Geoff Miller defended the decision to rest Strauss. “Captaincy is a mental battle and we want Strauss to come back refreshed for the summer. He’s had an arduous time, the selectors feel he needs a break, and this is an opportunity.”
Bangladesh meanwhile are showing that they may be a more difficult prospect than first anticipated during the first Test against India in Chittagong. The hosts, thanks to five wicket hauls from Shahadat Hossain and the captain Shakib Al Hasan, dismissed the Indian’s for just 243 in their first innings but struggled to 59-3 in their reply before bad light stopped play.