Cook: Bell remains as de facto vice captain

England

England captain Alastair Cook has confirmed that while Matt Prior has returned to the side, he will not be playing as vice-captain and that will instead fall to Ian Bell if required.

England captain Alastair Cook has confirmed that while Matt Prior has returned to the side, he will not be playing as vice-captain and that will instead fall to Ian Bell if required.

Prior was vice-captain before being dropped for poor form in Australia, and Bell took over for the last two Ashes Tests. He later said he hadn't anticipated the extra pressure affecting his batting as much as it did.

Cook said when asked about his possible deputy ahead of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Lord's: "We haven't got a vice-captain but if I had to leave the field Ian Bell will take over."

Cook was then asked why Prior, who had been dropped and then out for ages with an Achilles injury, had been selected ahead of the more popular Jos Buttler. Cook defended his senior colleague, citing his experience ahead of uncapped Buttler.

Cook added: "I'm backing his ability and the quality we know he's got. His long-term record as an England cricketer, he's played almost 80 games, that's a wealth of experience in a side which is changing.

"Of course we've been in constant communication about his fitness to make sure he's 100% right, and he is. He should be very proud of his record, it's outstanding, and he has a lot more to offer and we should support that."

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