Cook named Test vice captain
Alastair Cook will be Andrew Strauss' deputy during England's four-Test series in the Caribbean.
Last Updated: 25/01/09 9:27pm
Alastair Cook has been named as England's vice captain for the Test leg of the Caribbean tour.
The Essex opener, 24, was chosen as second in command to newly appointed skipper Andrew Strauss for the four-match series in the West Indies.
And while the role is on an informal basis, he has nevertheless been picked ahead of more experienced options in the squad such as Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood and Strauss' predecessor as captain Kevin Pietersen.
"It is a very unofficial position, but it is another chance for me to gain some valuable leadership experience and help Straussy in any way I can," said Cook, who has played 36 Tests since his debut almost three years ago.
"He will need support not just from me but from the other senior players as well and we do have a lot of leadership experience in the dressing room with three other guys who have captained England.
"They will be there to offer help and ideas and I can give them the view point of someone that is slightly younger and might come at things from a different angle."
The tourists begin their preparations with a three-day match against a St Kitts & Nevis XI at Warner Park, starting on January 25.
Middlesex batsman Owais Shah has been handed a chance to press his claims for a Test spot after being named in the starting XI, along with Warwickshire's Ian Bell, the man under most pressure to retain his place.
The duo both play as Durham all-rounder Paul Collingwood is rested, while the omission of Nottinghamshire seamer Stuart Broad allows Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid to play as a second spinner with Northamptonshire's Monty Panesar.
Broad's absence is explained by the expectation of a slow pitch in Basseterre.
Shah has made just two Test appearances in three years, and both of those were as a stand-in: firstly in Mumbai when Cook pulled out ill on the morning of the series finale and then against West Indies at Lord's the following year when Michael Vaughan was not match-fit.
Questions over his temperament and technique will no doubt be raised but his one-day international performances since the start of last summer are excellent - he averages 46.72 with five half-centuries.
"He has pretty much done everything he could do," Strauss said of his county colleague.
"He has certainly played very well in the one-day game and he has pretty much consistently scored runs in four-day cricket for Middlesex as well, so he is definitely knocking on the door very loudly.
"That is a great situation to have as a team, knowing there is someone very competent to come in.
"He has shown that he has the temperament to succeed in international cricket.
"He hasn't had much opportunity in Test cricket but judging by the number of runs he has scored in county cricket it would be fair to deduce he would be able to replicate it in Test cricket as well.
"One thing we have done over the last few years quite consistently is give people a run when they have got in the team, certainly batsmen, and I suppose to a certain extent he has not been given that is because he came into the side due to injuries or withdrawals rather than taking someone's place."
England play a further three-day warm-up fixture - also at Warner Park - against West Indies A from January 29-31 before the series opener gets under way at Sabina Park, Jamaica on February 4.
England: Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Owais Shah, Andrew Flintoff, Matt Prior (wk), Adil Rashid, Steve Harmison, James Anderson, Monty Panesar