Alastair Cook's t20 absence will keep him refreshed ahead of huge 2013, says Mark Butcher

Last Updated: 21/12/12 5:15pm

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Cook: the Test match run-machine has been handed a necessary break, says Butch

Cook: the Test match run-machine has been handed a necessary break, says Butch

Mark Butcher told Sky Sports News that it is right that Alastair Cook has been rested for England's t20 series with India.

The 27-year-old was in sublime form in his side's Test triumph in the subcontinent, notching 562 runs at an average of 80.28 over the course of the four-game contest, which England won 2-1.

Cook's Test stats in India

Innings: 8
Balls faced: 1285
Runs: 562
Ave: 80.28
Highest score: 190 (in Kolkata)
Tons: 3

However, the five-day skipper will sit out the two t20 clashes against India - in Pune on Thursday and Mumbai on Saturday - and with Stuart Broad nursing a heel injury, middle-order batsman Eoin Morgan will assume the captaincy.

And former England batsman Butcher believes that with an arduous set of fixtures to negotiate in 2013, the ECB are correct to give their in-form Test skipper a breather.

"If coaches need rest the players are going to find it increasingly difficult to play in all three formats - Tests, ODIs and t20s - and at some point they need a bit of a break from the game," said Butcher, who played in 71 Tests for England but made no one-day appearances.

"I'm sure Cook would be more than happy to play t20 but at the end of a series in which he has batted superbly and led the team so brilliantly, the best thing for him and England, ahead of an incredibly busy time that includes a trip to New Zealand and back-to-back Ashes series, is for him to have a rest.

"It will do him the world of good."

Heaving

Spin duo Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar wreaked havoc during the Test duels with India, taking 37 wickets between them, and Butcher thinks England's t20 twirlers will also play a significant role in the coming days, along with Somerset shot-smith Jos Buttler.

"Danny Briggs is a superb player for Hampshire in t20 and is the first name on their team-sheet, but James Tredwell is probably the most experienced player on the trip and I see a place for him, too.

"It will be an experience for them playing against some fantastic batsmen on their home turf and in front of heaving crowds, so it will test their nerve in terms of throwing the ball up and bowling spinners."

"Batting-wise, Buttler is one of the best one-day finishers I have seen. Even though he is only young and does not have an enormous amount of international experience, some of the innings he has played for Somerset have been extraordinary.

"It could be case for him and Johnny Bairstow of either or, but England could have enough bowling with Jade Dernbach, Tim Bresnan, Luke Wright and the spinners, so they might both play."

Unrecognisable

"The England side that won in Australia in 2010/11 is not a million miles away from what they have at the moment, while Australia's line-up is almost unrecognisable."
Mark Butcher

England return to Test match duty in March when they venture to New Zealand for a three-match series, but Butcher is already looking ahead to next summer's mouth-watering Ashes encounters, something he feels the hosts will be "firm favourites" to win.

"The team now looks united; there is a new leader and fresh outlook," added the Surrey legend.

"The England side that won in Australia in 2010/11 is not a million miles away from what they have at the moment, while Australia's line-up is almost unrecognisable, so that alone will make England firm favourites in the home Ashes series.

"There is an enormous amount of international cricket coming up and that will test the strength in depth that England, and country cricket, have; we need to back-up what is there at the moment in case of injuries to our key players.

"But I think we do have the quality to do that as there is plenty of quick-bowling depth and plenty of young batsmen. Don't expect those Aussies to have those Ashes back anytime soon!"

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