Alastair Cook continues to worry the England selectors
Alastair Cook’s torturous form continued on a difficult first morning for England in the third Test against Pakistan at the Oval, adding further question marks against his place in the side.
The Essex opener did nothing to hush the pre-match whispers, adding just six runs to the pitiful 100 he had collected in four Tests so far this summer.
The 25-year-old feathered an edge to recalled keeper Kamran Akmal off the bowling of Mohammad Asif as Pakistan made early inroads, and will again face intense media scrutiny over his place in the team.
England have stuck with the man who captained them to victory in Bangladesh this winter and their recent selection policy suggests Cook will have at least one more chance, at Lords next week.
Andrew Strauss and Coach Andy Flower both advocate continuity of selection and, as Duncan Fletcher alluded to in his article in The Guardian on Wednesday, Cook’s dressing room presence is much admired. But unless he can back it up with runs in the remaining three innings of the summer, that will no longer be enough.
Ashes series’ are the most microscopically analysed events in the sport and though the Australian’s have an innate ability to expose any mental inadequacies in the English psyche.
The biggest problem for the selectors is the absence of obvious replacements.
Michael Carberry of Hampshire played on Test in Bangladesh last winter and is in magnificent nick but does not appear to be hugely admired.
Ideally, Cook will re-cement his place with a belligerent ton in the second innings but his technique is so ragged that it seems highly unlikely.
The solution come Brisbane in November could well be that Jonathan Trott or a returning Ian Bell is asked to accompany their captain against the new ball, something both have done in the past.
But it is a far from ideal solution to the scenario and England will be praying that Cook can scramble some ugly runs and buy him some time to work on his game before they venture down under.