Skipper Alastair Cook tells middle order the only way to silence doubters is to score big runs as England prepare to face Pakistan

Ross McLean
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England v Pakistan: 2nd Investec Test - Day One
Vince has struggled for runs in the Test arena (Source: Getty)

England skipper Alastair Cook has urged his side’s faltering middle order to silence the snipers by scoring big runs during the third Investec Test against Pakistan at Edgbaston, which starts this morning.

Questions have been asked of England’s batting unit after vice-captain Joe Root was promoted to No3 following Nick Compton’s decision to take an indefinite break from cricket at the end of the Sri Lanka series.

That left Hampshire’s James Vince batting at No4 and the recalled Gary Ballance at No5. Vince has struggled to find his feet in the Test arena, scoring just 130 runs in seven innings, while Ballance is yet to notch a half-century since returning to the side.

“There are points to prove and it hasn’t changed yet,” said Cook. “I think throughout my time as captain there has always been something up for discussion and at the moment the middle order are up for it.

“Until the guys get good scores consistently, they will be under pressure. But they’re very good players, they got picked either because of outstanding form for their counties or Gary [Ballance], he’s got a very good Test record and I think he’s looked pretty good coming back, without getting a big score.”

Middlesex seamer Steven Finn has been given the nod over Nottinghamshire’s Jake Ball to replace the injured Ben Stokes in an otherwise unchanged England XI, which again means no place for leg-spinner Adil Rashid.

Finn was selected in the opening Test of the four-match series, which is currently locked at 1-1, but was dropped, along with Ball, following the Lord’s clash.

“It was a tough call, as I found out at 2am this morning when I was wide awake thinking about it,” added Cook. “We’ve gone for a guy who has got a proven Test record. He’s taken 120 wickets and has a knack of picking up wickets.”