Reprieve for captain Cook as England hand Buttler debut
England stood by their united assurances that Alastair Cook is still the man to lead them forward, by confirming him as captain for the third Test against India.
Cook's was the most notable of two names – uncapped wicketkeeper Jos Buttler's was the other – which immediately caught the eye, for very different reasons, in a 13-man squad announced yesterday.
Many have contended, especially after two more failures at the top of the order as England went 1-0 down at Lord's, that Cook needs a break from his exacting responsibilities.
The 29-year-old emerged from a 95-run defeat, however, proclaiming his determination to carry on and try to put his stamp on England's 'new era' alongside returning coach Peter Moores. After several hours of deliberation from the selectors, it emerged he will be granted that opportunity in Southampton.
England will therefore pick 11 on Sunday from a familiar list, notwithstanding a Lord's result which selector James Whitaker acknowledged was "very disappointing".
Buttler is the fresh face set for a debut, after Matt Prior ruled himself out for the remainder of the summer in order to address a series of injury worries – chiefly an Achilles problem, which is likely to require surgery.
Moores, picking up the pieces after England's Ashes whitewash last winter, has no doubt Cook is the man to help him do so, despite their stuttering start together.
"I think he's showing as a captain that he's developing quickly, in a time of real adversity. He will make mistakes – we all do.
"The question is, can he be the captain who can take the team forward in the long term? Can he be that man? In my opinion, yes, and so I'm going to support him through that."
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