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England v New Zealand: Headingley Test incentive for home batsmen

Captain Alastair Cook hopes England can maintain the momentum gained against New Zealand when the second Test starts on Saturday.

Alastair Cook: England captain challenges his batsmen

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England captain Alastair Cook admits his batsmen have an added incentive to do well in the second Test against New Zealand which starts at Headingley on Friday.

Kevin Pietersen is expected to return for the series against Australia later this summer and this will be the last chance the likes of Jonny Bairstow, Nick Compton and Joe Root will get to impress in the five-day format before the Ashes.

"I think we all know when hopefully Kevin comes back and he's fit, his record and his class pretty much demands that he plays for England," said Cook.

"His record allows him to do that. So of course that creates competition for places and the guys in the changing room will be desperate to score runs. That's good for us in this game because we need as many runs as we can.

"If any batter scores runs it's very hard to leave him out. That's how selection works.

"I don't think it will give them any extra motivation because I don't think you need any extra motivation when you're playing for England...but we all know that's the situation."

Cook was also able to offer a brief update on Pietersen as he continues his recovery from a troublesome knee injury.

He added: "Kevin's progressing well from his injury. There is obviously some more information coming over the next couple of weeks but chatting to him last week at Lord's he sounded positive, and it's fingers crossed.

"With injuries you're not quite sure how they're healing but it sounded as if he was making good progress."

Should Tim Bresnan replace Steven Finn for England at Headingley?

  • Yes
  • No