NATIONAL selector Geoff Miller has backed Alastair Cook to prove he is captaincy material when the batsman leads England on the tour of Bangladesh.
Cook, regarded as the natural successor to Andrew Strauss, will spearhead the one-day series and Test campaign against the Tigers, starting next month.
As expected Strauss has been afforded a rest, following what Miller called an “arduous” 12 months, to ensure he is in peak contention for this year’s Ashes defence and next year’s World Cup.
Also missing will be fast-bowler James Anderson, who is being given an extended break as he attempts to overcome a niggling knee complaint. It is hoped he will return for April’s World T20 in the West Indies.
The 16-man Test squad features three uncapped players, Kent off-spinner James Tredwell, Yorkshire paceman Ajmal Shahzad and Hampshire batsman Michael Carberry, while both Tredwell and Shahzad are also in the one-day party. Cook, 25, was made vice-captain last year and Miller is hoping the relative minnows of Bangladesh, ranked ninth in the world in both Test and one-day formats, will prove an ideal training ground for the Essex opener.
“He’s played over 50 Test matches now and it’s not just a matter of thinking about the present time or the immediate future, there’s the far future as well,” said Miller.
“He was given the vice-captaincy, so we want to see how he performs with the thoughts of captaincy. It’ll be a difficult task, obviously – it always is to captain your country – and he’s got to work on his batting too, but we think he’s capable of doing that and he will get the opportunity to do so.”
Miller added that a desire to preserve the spine of the team was behind the decision not to rest additional players. “We want to keep the side together as much as possible,” he said. “But the captaincy is a mental battle. We want the captain to come back refreshed for the summer.”
Paul Collingwood will skipper England for two Twenty20 clashes with Pakistan in Dubai before the Bangladesh tour.
ENGLAND | TOUR OF BANGLADESH
Test squad: A Cook (captain), I Bell,
S Broad, M Carberry, P Collingwood,
S Davies (wkt),
G Onions, K Pietersen, L Plunkett, M Prior (wkt), A Shahzad,
G Swann, J Tredwell, J Trott, L Wright
A Cook (captain),
T Bresnan, S Broad,
J Denly, E Morgan,
M Prior (wkt),
K Pietersen, L Plunkett, R Sidebottom,
A Shahzad, G Swann, J Tredwell, J Trott,