Cook: We are not sure of our best XI yet

England

England Test captain Alastair Cook says the upcoming tour matches in South Africa ahead of the first Test will be crucial, as he and the coaches are not yet sure of their starting XI for Durban.

Cook said upon arrival in South Africa that there were a few spots up for grabs, from the number three batting position in the absence of Ian Bell, to the wicketkeeper, to the fourth seamer.

The England players will compete in two warm up games, starting in Potchefstroom, and keeper Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow will hope to impress as the look for the starting place.

Cook said of the Boxing Day match: "We don’t know our best XI quite yet. There are a lot of things up for grabs.

"There are players who can make a name for themselves. We’re trying to find our best combination, people who can nail down their place in the side.

"There’s a lot to play for internally so I expect our nets in the next few days will be fairly intense."

Meanwhile, England coach Trevor Bayliss said they were not reading anything in to the Proteas' 3-0 series loss in India recently, as the conditions were too different, and the Proteas are at home now.

Bayliss said: "I don’t think that really matters. Everyone knows it’s very hard to win away from home.

"We’re playing the best team (in the world rankings) and they’re playing at home. We’re under no illusions that it’s going to be difficult.”

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