Cook: No places are guaranteed

Swann set to miss opening game with stomach bug

Last Updated: 02/09/11 4:31pm

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England one-day captain Alastair Cook is looking ahead to the 2015 World Cup and has warned no one is guaranteed a starting place.

Star batsman Kevin Pietersen has been rested for the five-match series with India, which gets under way at Chester-le-Street on Saturday.

Reports on Friday suggested the right-hander could also be excluded for the winter one-day tour to Asia to raise some questions about his place in England's 50-over plans.

While Cook re-iterated that Pietersen, who has scored just two ODI half-centuries in the past two years, had been left out due to England's rotation policy he did warn that no-one was safe as the selectors look to find a winning formula in the 50-over game after recent success at Test and T20 level.

Programme

"KP is a world-class player. We said with the management of players he has been rested for this series," Cook said.

"He's part of the programme to rest players who are involved in all three formats of the game.

"There is no guarantee for anything, because we haven't had that selection meeting for India."

Asked if he would prefer someone like Pietersen in his team, Cook repeated: "There's no guarantee for anything."

In Pietersen's absence, England are also set to test their options against the world champions over the next fortnight.

Ian Bell is set to be elevated to Pietersen's number four position, while 20-year-old all-rounder Ben Stokes has been called up to help fill the hard-hitting role.

"I think he (Bell) is going to bat higher than six - as he did against Sri Lanka," Cook added.

"We always have the right to be flexible in our batting order.

"With KP not here it gives someone else the opportunity to bat there. Hopefully whoever does it can take that opportunity."

After claiming the number one Test ranking and winning the World Twenty20 last year, England are aiming to add world domination in the 50-over game to their growing list of achievements.

England have targeted the need to promote match-winners, in the ilk of Eoin Morgan, in order to achieve that ambition.

Durham all-rounder Stokes has proven such a player at county level and Cook revealed England would rest regulars like Pietersen in order to look at players such as Stokes as they begin their long-term planning for the 2015 World Cup.

"It's a great chance as a side to do that," he said.

"You do need something special in the one-day game. Especially down the order with that X-factor.

"I wouldn't heap all that pressure on Ben Stokes or whoever comes in to do that role.

"You do need that ability in the one-day game to hit the ball out of the park.

"We've got four years until the World Cup (to look at players), but you also want to win every game that you play.

"Let's not get too carried away with four years' time. The most important thing is what we do tomorrow."
Alastair Cook Quotes of the week

"There is always an eye on when we do arrive in four years' time that we have a settled and experienced squad that can cope with those conditions.

"Let's not get too carried away with four years' time. The most important thing is what we do tomorrow."

Unwell

England look likely to be without off-spinner Graeme Swann for the series opener after he did not train on Friday due to a stomach bug.

Swann claimed his career-best figures of 5-28 at the ground against Australia two years ago and Cook said a decision on his fitness would be made Saturday morning.

Despite Swann's likely absence, and the fact India were only crowned world champions in April, England are set to go into the series as favourites following their dominance so far this summer.

India have also been depleted by injury but Cook is taking little notice of the bookies ahead of the first meeting between the sides since their thrilling tie during the World Cup.

"The favourites tag to me is irrelevant. It is what happens on that pitch tomorrow," he added.

"That's the only thing that matters to us.

"We know if we play well we can put India under pressure. They will be thinking the same.

"Hopefully we can out-skill them tomorrow."

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