Cook challenges Hales to grab his opportunity


England Test captain Alastair Cook has challenged Alex Hales to take his opportunity to nail down the opening batsman berth if he gets an opportunity in the warm-up matches before the Tests in the UAE against Pakistan.

Adam Lyth has been dropped after having a torrid time in the Ashes against Australia with Hales called up in his place after impressing for Nottinghamshire in four-day cricket this season.

It is not an open an shut case that Hales will be Cook's partner at the top of the order as the England management are pondering whether to promote Moeen Ali to the opening role so they could play two spinners on the subcontinent.

Cook hinted that Moeen could open in the UAE and Hales could get the nod against South Africa later this year, but that can all change if Hales hits the ground running later this month.

The left-handed Cook said: "It might be a short-term option and that Mo opens in this series but not in South Africa. But Alex could always take his chance in a warm-up game and we go that way, so we do have options.

"No-one has quite nailed the opportunity – they all did okay without really grabbing it. It's a big step from county cricket to international cricket and opening the batting you are playing against the best bowlers with the new ball.

"We have a balanced squad so we could play two spinners – something you pretty much have to do on flat wickets – and four seamers."

England will play three Tests against Pakistan, starting in Abu Dhabi on 13 October.