Immovable for over 12 years as a test cricketer, Alastair Cook has called time on his test career. He’s seen 12 partners come and go following the retirement of Andrew Strauss, suggesting opening the batting has proven to be a poisoned chalice in recent years. So who are the runners and riders to make the tour of Sri Lanka and West Indies this winter and follow in his foot steps?
Rory Burns – One of the older contenders despite being only 28, but surely at the top of the queue. The Surrey captain has consistently scored over 1,000 championship runs in a season and will lead Surrey to the first County Championship title since 1995. Concerns over an awkward looking technique have limited his involvement in the England set up to date, but surely his run scoring prowess can’t be denied for much longer.
Nick Gubbins – Injuries have hampered his progress in recent years but at 24 Gubbins is young and has been looked at for a number of years by national selectors. A strong technique provides solid foundations for the rigours of test cricket.
Haseeb Hameed – Many thought we had stumbled on the next Ali Cook when Hameed broke onto the scene in England’s tour of India in 2016, scoring a debut half century. Composed beyond his teenage years, Hameed looked to have the perfect temperament for test cricket. However, he has never recovered from a broken hand sustained in the third test of test series and has since had to swap the grandeur’s of test cricket for county second team action
Moeen Ali – He’s batted everywhere from 1-9 in an England shirt, could we see Moeen Ali return to the top of England’s order? While this would find a real home for Ali as opposed to the expectation as first choice spinner, his discomfort of short pitch bowling was heavily exposed in Australia and makes him unlikely to be the man for all conditions
James Vince – a surprise pick as a number 3 for the down under Ashes series and struggled to make his mark, this would surely be Vince’s last chance as a test cricketer. Has returned to the county scene and scored runs this summer, but questions remain over his application and staying power
Mark Stoneman – Performed admirably during the winter Ashes but grit and determination couldn’t paper over the cracks against short pitched bowling which were further exposed against Pakistan this summer.
Joe Denly – Flirted with the England side in the white ball formats in the early stages of career, but has not played for the national side for over 8 years. At 32, Denly is just one year younger than Cook but a veteran of the county game.
Ian Bell – the wild card choice. He has played 118 tests and is one of the classiest cricketers of his generation. Has had a Renaissance year with Warwickshire after lean spells having returned to the domestic game, but with selectors recently preferring younger talent, a move for the 36 year old feels a backward step.