Cook excited to watch Vince, Jennings and Roy battle for opening spot

By Sports Desk April 02, 2019

Alastair Cook says the battle to become England's first-choice opener is wide open ahead of the Ashes, with James Vince, Jason Roy and Keaton Jennings all in contention.

England have been unable to settle on a reliable opening pair since Andrew Strauss' retirement in 2012, with Cook having a string of partners in the years that followed.

Jennings was one of the many to try their hand alongside Cook and following the latter's retirement last year England again began to assess their options.

In the West Indies only Rory Burns opened in all three Tests, with Jennings partnering him in two and Joe Denly in the other.

None of them averaged more than 30, though, and the make-up of England's top order remains uncertain heading into the Ashes, beginning on August 1.

Vince will open for Hampshire in a bid to boost his chances, while Roy has also expressed a desire to be given the nod against Australia, though a hamstring injury may have damaged his hopes.

Cook believes all three have the quality to force their way in and is relishing watching the battle unfold.

"It's very exciting for anyone out there, the top order hasn't been settled for England for a while and there are places up for grabs," he told Sky Sports. 

"Any player, with such a big summer ahead with the World Cup and Ashes, has such an opportunity. If you have a good year you can make a name for yourself.

"I haven't seen much of Jason playing four-day cricket, we've all seen what he can do in white-ball stuff and it is – in one way – a very similar game. 

"You can see he can handle himself in international cricket, he's a fantastic strokemaker. He hasn't batted a huge amount at the top of the order for Surrey so that's a bit of a concern in one way but he's so talented."

Cook added: "Obviously now [Vince's] opening for Hampshire, going up the order, I think it's a fantastic opportunity for him.

"Vincey is a brilliant cricketer, a brilliant batter, one I love watching bat. The amount of time he's got playing against pace bowling, he got a fantastic 80 [against Australia] in Brisbane, a real high-pressure situation, so he can do it as well.

"Keats [Jennings] is a great guy, a great batter who's experienced everything in Test cricket in such a short space of time. A hundred on debut, a hundred in Sri Lanka and then some tough moments back at home in English conditions. 

"He'll be like anyone, desperate to score runs for Lancashire, desperate for some form and to make the call for the selectors very hard. 

"No one's nailed a place and no one can say they are a shoe-in for that top three, so it's all to play for."

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