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Ashes: Andy Flower has faith in batsman Alastair Cook

Alastair Cook
Alastair Cook has struggled for runs since last summer

England coach Andy Flower has played down concerns over opening batsman Alastair Cook's lack of form.

Cook scored only five and nine in the warm-up win over Western Australia following a disappointing summer.

"I don't have concerns," said Flower. "It's one game, two innings. I think he's going to do well."

Cook will now be under the spotlight in the game at South Australia, starting on Thursday, with the first Ashes Test getting under way on 25 November.

The 25-year-old scored 106 runs in eight innings over the summer before a knock of 110 against Pakistan in August helped him confirm his Ashes spot.

But left-handed Cook has a modest record against Australia as he averages 26.21 against them in 10 Tests.

However, Flower has confidence in the player to turn around his form and believes the match at the Adelaide Oval will give England more crucial preparation in the second of three warm-up matches.

"It was very important for us to get that middle time," said Flower of the victory over Western Australia at the Waca.

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"We had one middle practice a few days before. But that sort of competitiveness on the Test wicket is important preparation for our guys.

"Again this match in Adelaide will be good experience on the Test square. That will be vital preparation for us."

England are expected to field the same 11 players who beat WA, with the coach explaining there was no reason to give players a match for the sake of it.

Flower added: "It's not about trying to be fair to everyone. We are trying to prepare our Test side for Brisbane. That's the priority.

"When you've got a squad of 16 or 17, obviously everyone wants to play. But our priority is to ensure that our Test XI is as ready as possible for the first Test."

If all goes according to plan, there is a chance that the four frontline bowlers will be pulled out of the final warm-up, against Australia A in Hobart, Tasmania.

James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and Stuart Broad would then head straight for the sub-tropical heat of Brisbane to acclimatise to the different conditions on offer at the Gabba, where the first Test will be played.

In the match starting on Thursday, the South Australia side has three players of particular interest.

Middle-order batsman Callum Ferguson is pushing hard for a Test debut, tall seamer Peter George played one Test in India and Graham Manou deputised for the injured Brad Haddin at Edgbaston in the third Ashes Test last year.



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see also
Tuesday's Ashes gossip column
09 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Strauss ton sets up England win
07 Nov 10 |  England
Pietersen innings boosts England
06 Nov 10 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket


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