Ashes 2013: Alastair Cook happy to open alongside Joe Root

Alastair Cook (above) will have Joe Root for company when the duo open for England during the Ashes 2013 © Getty Images

Nottingham: Jul 9, 2013

England captain Alastair Cook said Tuesday he had no qualms about having Joe Root open alongside him in the cauldron of an Ashes Test.

All of Root’s six previous Tests have been as a middle-order batsman, with the 22-year-old’s average 42.40 — not bad for a fledgling international.

But, Root opens for Yorkshire and England have decided to promote him to the top of the order alongside Cook for the opening match of their Ashes defence against Australia at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge ground starting Wednesday, after dropping Nick Compton from their squad.

Compton, grandson of England great Denis, opened in nine consecutive Tests and struck back-to-back hundreds on England’s tour of New Zealand earlier this year.

But the Somerset batsman was dropped after struggling in the return home series against New Zealand where he managed just 39 runs in four innings.

Cook, who struck a century on Test debut against India in Nagpur, was confident Root could handle the transition, telling reporters at Trent Bridge on Tuesday: “It’s quite similar to what happened to myself really when I moved up from number three, although I had opened a couple of times in India.

“He [Root] is kind of thrown in there but he has handled himself in every situation fantastically well since he made his England debut.

“What has impressed everyone is he has always batted the situation fantastically well, whether it has been a one-day game where you need to score quickly or see the side home, he has managed to change his style for Twenty20 and Test matches as well. I can see no reason why he can’t handle himself. He is a fantastic young player.

“Yes he has got a huge amount of improvement to do but I think he will be absolutely fine.”

However, Australia captain Michael Clarke, speaking earlier Tuesday, was taken aback by Compton’s

“We haven’t bowled to Joe yet but we didn’t manage to get Nick out that easily, so I’m happy he’s not playing to be honest,” Clarke said.

“Nick has showed in the last couple of four day matches he has a very good defence and I’m surprised he’s not in the team for the first Test,” star batsman Clarke added.