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Joe Root will open with Alastair Cook as England prepare for Ashes

Joe Root: In pole position to open in the Ashes

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Joe Root has been given the nod to open for England in a four-day Ashes warm-up match against Essex which starts on Sunday but Nick Compton has been left out of the squad.

Compton has opened the batting in England's last nine Test matches but failed to score heavily in the recent series against New Zealand, while Root impressed in the middle order.

"We have a very exciting two months of Test cricket coming up, and it is important we start well at Chelmsford next week."

Geoff Miller

And Root, who opens for Yorkshire, must now be considered the favourite to open with captain Alastair Cook when the first Ashes Test gets underway at Trent Bridge on 10 July.

However, Compton will get another chance to stake his claim when his county Somerset take on the touring Aussie side this week.

National selector Geoff Miller said: "We believe Joe Root is currently the best opening partner for Alastair Cook and he will open the batting against Essex.

"Joe has performed well for Yorkshire at the top of the order earlier this season and, during his international career so far, he has proven to be very adaptable in all three formats and has relished the challenge of international cricket."

Rankin included

England have named a 14-man squad for the LV=Challenge match at Chelmsford and Boyd Rankin is the only member of the squad who has yet to play for England in any format.

Rankin is joined in the squad by five other seamers in the shape of James Anderson, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and Graham Onions.

Kevin Pietersen proved he has returned to full fitness following a knee injury with a fine century for Surrey at Yorkshire on Sunday and key spinner Graeme Swann, who has had a calf problem, is also expected to be fit for the Ashes.

Miller added: "This match is a vital part of our preparations for the Investec Ashes after a period of limited-overs cricket for a large number of the squad.

"We have a very exciting two months of Test cricket coming up, and it is important we start well at Chelmsford next week.

"Kevin Pietersen has had no complications following his recent return to cricket after a knee injury, which is pleasing, and Graeme Swann is recovering well from a calf injury."

England squad v Essex: A Cook (c), J Anderson, L Bairstow, I Bell, T Bresnan, S Broad, S Finn, G Onions, K Pietersen, M Prior, B Rankin, J Root, G Swann, J Trott

Who should open the England batting in the Ashes alongside Alastair Cook?

  • Nick Compton
  • Joe Root
  • Ian Bell
  • Other

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