England set to stick with Hales

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The England captain had hoped to have a clear idea by now about the side he wants to lead in the first Test against Sri Lanka on May 19.

But Cook will join the selectors on Tuesday to discuss England’s options with the positions in particular of Nick Compton and Alex Hales, both disappointing in the 2-1 Test series win in South Africa, still very much up in the air.

‘It’s really unfortunate about James Taylor (who has been forced to retire due to a heart condition) and that opens up a space in the middle order but after that the selectors have got really tough decisions to make,’ said Cook.

‘We won in South Africa which gives the guys in the side credit but we didn’t score the top-order runs we’d have liked so there’s lots to discuss.

‘It’s not as clear as I hoped it would be by this stage but that’s probably because we could go two or three ways. It will be an interesting meeting next week. There might be some tough calls made on some players but they might give them another chance.’

What looks certain is that James Vince will come in for Taylor, and Jake Ball could be included as the spare bowler after an outstanding start to the season for Notts. But whether that is the full extent of the changes remains to be seen as England contemplate whether to adhere to coach Trevor Bayliss’s maxim that he would prefer to give any player one game too many than one too few.

Cook said he would be happy to walk out at Headingley in two weeks’ time alongside Hales, which suggests more waiting for opening candidates Nick Browne, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Sam Robson and Adam Lyth.

And the England captain suggested Joe Root will be allowed to stay at No 4, where he has had so much success, which could yet offer a reprieve to Compton at three.

Gary Ballance remains the leading candidate to return if England draw a line under Compton but his stubbornness in refusing to change a technique that was exposed by New Zealand and Australia last summer may yet count against him.– Daily Mail

Original source: England set to stick with Hales

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