Oct 26 2013
Alastair Cook has challenged England's quick bowlers to prove they deserve to start alongside James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the first Ashes Test.
England have no shortage of fast-bowling options available to them, with uncapped Boyd Rankin joining Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett in battling for the final pace berth and the injured Tim Bresnan waiting in the wings.
Captain Cook confirmed there was even a chance the Yorkshireman could be back to full fitness come the start of the first Test in Brisbane on November 21, although they will not know until they see how his back reacts when he begins bowling again.
In the meantime, Cook hopes to see his squad making the most of their opportunities in the warm-up games.
Speaking in Perth, Cook said: "It's quite clear to see that Jimmy and Broady have done enough over their fantastic careers to be first-choice bowlers.
"We tend to play three quicks so there's one place up for grabs. It's pretty clear for everyone to know that and people have got to stick their hand up.
"If they do well in these warm-up games, the opportunities they get, they're going to put their name there."
Ireland-born Rankin is an intriguing option, having given the Australians an idea of what he is all about in the one-day series in September.
"He's a big, tall lump," said Cook. "He can get the ball down pretty close to 90mph. You can see from the selection of the squad we've picked we think pace and bounce will be quite crucial on Australian wickets. That's quite common.
"Very skilful shorter bowlers can have success but in general pace and bounce is quite key.
"He certainly gives us that option. He hasn't played a Test match or been around a Test environment before so it will be interesting to see how it goes.
"I think the next four days in the nets might be interesting with him, Finny, Broady all bowling."
Also bowling in the nets will be two left-armers, Tymal Mills and Harry Gurney, who England have taken along to prepare for facing the likes of Mitchell Johnson in Test matches.
"We don't have any left-armers in the squad and there's a possibility that we're going to face a couple of left-armers in the Ashes series," Cook said.
"It's great practice for them, great experience for them, but they're very much there to bowl at us."
On Bresnan, who has not played since the Durham Test match at the start of August, Cook added: "He might be back bowling 100 per cent by the first Test match - might be. That's the kind of progress we'd hope to see from him.
"He'll obviously have to have some bowling in matches before he goes into a Test match if possible. The performance squad come out as well, so we've obviously got both options available for him to get some matches in.
"But we don't know how his back is going to react. We'll wait and see."
England's first match will be against Western Australia next week.
However, due to a clash with a state game, it will be a second string who line up to face Cook's men.
It's a situation with which England are familiar having faced under-strength sides in warm-up games in their last tour of India, and Cook refused to make an issue out of it.
"The last time we toured India we didn't face a ball of spin until the first Test match," he said. "We just had to concentrate on us.
"You like to play the strongest opposition you can but clearly with WA playing a state game the strongest opposition is the next best.
"It gives them an opportunity and there'll be some young guys trying to stake a claim to get in the WA side."