Bangladesh v England preview: Gareth Batty in frame as England prepare to play three spinners
Last Updated: 16/03/17 12:43pm
Alastair Cook says England are likely to include three spin bowlers in their side for the opening Test against Bangladesh, live on Sky Sports.
The captain will become England's most-capped Test cricketer when he leads the side out for the first game in the two-match series on Thursday.
And conditions in Chittagong have opened the door for 39-year-old Gareth Batty, who played the most recent of his seven Tests against the same opposition more than 11 years ago, to make his return to Test cricket.
Cook all-but confirmed Batty or Surrey team-mate Zafar Ansari will join Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid in the XI alongside three seamers, expected to be Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and all-rounder Ben Stokes.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Cook said: "With the all-rounders we've got in our side, I think you'd be right to assume so on these wickets. We seem to get most options with that one."
Cook was less forthcoming when asked to reveal the identity of his ninth opening partner since Andrew Strauss retired four years ago.
Lancashire teenager Haseeb Hameed and Northamptonshire's Ben Duckett both made decent cases during a warm-up game against a BCB Select XI, and Cook said: "We've had some thoughts, but unfortunately I can't name the team.
"It's another opportunity for someone to grab the spot with both hands. The guys that have come in have done okay, they haven't embarrassed themselves at all, but they couldn't make that contribution a bit bigger."
Duckett and Hameed could both feature in the batting line-up if Gary Ballance is overlooked, while coach Paul Farbrace last week indicated Jos Buttler will be considered as a specialist batsman.
Cook, whose wife recently gave birth, says he has barely thought about breaking Alec Stewart's appearance record but did acknowledge that the game would be "very special on a personal note".
And the skipper is backing his side to deliver even in unfavourable conditions against a Bangladesh side playing their first Test in 15 months.
He said: "I think due to Bangladesh not playing much cricket over the last year or so, you outweigh that we are playing in conditions that are not natural to us.
"We won an Ashes series when no-one gave us a chance, so it's irrelevant to how we play."
Watch the opening Test between Bangladesh and England on Thursday. Coverage begins on Sky Sports 2 HD and Sky Sports Mix at 4:30am.