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No sentiment in team selection for third Test: Cook

December 12, 2013 12:43 IST

No sentiment in team selection for third Test: CookThere will be no room for sentiment when it comes to selecting the team for this week's potentially decisive third Ashes Test against Australia, England captain Alastair Cook said on Thursday.

England, who arrived in Australia chasing a fourth successive Ashes triumph, have their backs well and truly against the wall in Perth after being humbled in the first two tests in Brisbane and Adelaide.

Defeat in the third match at the WACA, where England have lost their last six Tests, would see Cook handing back the tiny urn that has become a symbol of Anglo-Australian rivalry.

The reputation of several leading England players has taken something of a battering and Cook said he and coach Andy Flower would consider all options before selecting their team ahead of the toss on Friday morning.

"I think we do what we always do, which is try and pick the best team to win the game," Cook told reporters at the WACA.

"I think the grass is always greener with guys who are not playing (but) I think we've got a lot of good options in the squad.

"But whichever 11 we go with, sentiment is out of the question, we've got to make sure we think that's the best 11 to win the game."

Having played two spinners in Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar at Adelaide, at least one change to the England team is definite for what is expected to be a bouncy wicket at the WACA.

Where once Swann would have been certain for inclusion, four wickets at a cost of nearly 400 runs in the first two matches has had some pundits questioning the 34-year-old's place in the side.

Bowling all-rounder Tim Bresnan looks set to return to the team after recovering from a back injury but England's real problems have been further up the order with their specialist batsmen.

England have failed to reach 400 runs in any of their innings in seven tests against Australia this year and Cook warned that his top order needed to take special care early on in Perth.

"It's one of those wickets where, as an Englishman, you have to get used to the bounce in the first half an hour," said the 28-year-old, who batted for six and a half hours for a century at the WACA in 2006.

"The actual carry on this wicket is always good, it can be a fantastic place to bat, but you've to get 'in' to make the most of it."

Another major factor in England's poor performance so far in the series has been their susceptibility to the pace bowling of Mitchell Johnson, who has taken 17 for 216 in the two Tests.

"I think our shot selection has been quite poor in this series and that's why he's had a lot of success against us," said Cook.

"But it's very dangerous to concentrate on one of their bowlers, they've got a good bowling attack and they've put us under pressure in this series.

"You can say our confidence has obviously had a hit from these first two games," Cook added. "But we have to look forward to this game rather than back at what's happened. That's not going to help us.

"We think we've got our preparations right, we've talked a good game, now we have to go out and play a good game.

"It's not about lifting the players, I think that hunger and desire, which everyone has questioned, has always been there and we'll try and show it this week."

Image: Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook of England
Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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