Cook: A few places up for grabs

England

Captain Alastair Cook has conceded the composition of England's first-choice Test XI is not as settled it was prior to a five-nil series defeat to Australia earlier this year.

Captain Alastair Cook has conceded the composition of England's first-choice Test XI is not as settled it was prior to a five-nil series defeat to Australia earlier this year.

Having outdone the Australians three-nil in the United Kingdom in 2013, the English slumped to a historic whitewash in 2014.

Coach Andy Flower has since departed, batsman Kevin Pietersen has been sidelined for the foreseeable future and the talented Jonny Bairstow is nursing a finger injury.

The veteran Jonathan Trott, meanwhile, recently returned to first-class cricket after leaving the Ashes tour due to a stress-related illness – and a slew of other players searching for promising form in the ongoing County Championship.

"It's an exciting time in English cricket in that, for the first time in a long time, there's quite a few places up for grabs," Cook told <i>BBC Essex</i>. "That happens when you lose games of cricket and we lost five pretty heavily."

England's next Test series will be against Sri Lanka in June, followed by India's visit in July. Cook, in the interim, is eager to lead by example – characterised by a superb century for Essex against Derbyshire at Chelmsford this week.

"Everyone knows there are places up for grabs and good performances in the County Championship over the next few months will push peoples' claims. I don't think you rule anyone out," added Cook.

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