Prior justifies Cook absence

England

Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior has insisted skipper Alastair Cook's absence from the England team for this week's tour fixture against the Western Australian Chairman's XI is "purely precautionary."

Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior has insisted skipper Alastair Cook's absence from the England team for this week's tour fixture against the Western Australian Chairman's XI is "purely precautionary."

Cook is nursing a stiff back and, alongside Stuart Broad, who has also been rested, will miss the three-day match at the Western Australian Cricket Ground. Prior, meanwhile, will captain the team.

"I'd be very surprised if Cook doesn't play the next one. Nets have been good fun at the moment with the big guys steaming in, all playing for their place – the batters have been hopping around a little bit," said Prior.

Cook, last week, stated that right-armers Chris Tremlett, Steven Finn and the uncapped Boyd Rankin are competing for the third specialist seamer's berth – ahead of the Ashes series opener, which will get underway in Brisbane on 21 November.

"It's great to have competition in a team and in a squad, I think that's very healthy. It's not just in the bowlers, it's batters, all-rounders, throughout the team there's a huge amount of competition. Everybody's pushing each other very hard and that gets the best out of the final XI chosen," concluded Prior.

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