England places up for grabs - Cook

Blackpool Citizen: England's Alastair Cook looks-on during day two of the Fifth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Australia. England's Alastair Cook looks-on during day two of the Fifth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Australia.

England captain Alastair Cook has admitted the team's recent struggles mean there are "quite a few places up for grabs".

The humiliating 5-0 Ashes whitewash has meant not many can be certain of retaining their spots for the Test matches against Sri Lanka and India this summer.

"It's an exciting time in English cricket in that, for the first time in a long time, there's quite a few places up for grabs," Cook told BBC Essex.

"That happens when you lose games of cricket and we lost five pretty heavily."

Kevin Pietersen's sacking and Graeme Swann's retirement has opened up two certain vacancies although Cook hopes those on the fringes of the side can enhance their claims in the first few weeks of the LV= County Championship.

Cook himself returned to form following a nightmare tour of Australia in Essex's match with Derbyshire at Chelmsford, while fellow England batsman Ian Bell also registered an unbeaten ton for Warwickshire.

"Everyone knows there are places up for grabs and good performances in the County Championship over the next few months will push people's claims," Cook added. "I don't think you can rule anyone out.

"I've hit the ball quite nicely myself over the last few weeks or so. It's nice to go on and make a sizeable contribution."

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