The Ashes: Second Test preview
The Ashes: Second Test preview
Alastair Cook insists he is not afraid to make tough selection decisions for the second Ashes Test at Lord's, despite England having claimed victory in the opening encounter of the series at Trent Bridge.
England may have secured a narrow triumph over Australia in Nottingham but Cook says playing a part in the famous win does not guarantee a place in his side for the encounter at the home of cricket.
Steven Finn's place appears to be under threat following an inconsistent performance last week, with Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions ready to usurp him to the position of England's third seamer.
The 24-year-old has, however, historically bowled well at Lord's - his home ground - and took eight wickets there last summer in the defeat to South Africa.
But, while Cook admits previous form will be taken into consideration when he chooses his XI on Thursday morning, he is prepared to make a difficult call should he deem it is the right one for England.
"Past form is very important but you can't always go by what happened two years ago - you have to weigh all that up and hopefully get the right answer," Cook said at a press conference on Wednesday.
"You try to be as loyal as you can to your players who won the Test match, you want to give people a feeling of confidence in the side and get a good run.
"But on the other hand you pick a side which you think is going to win that game. And I think sometimes you have to make tough decisions, every situation is different.
"I would love to say that players under me feel as though I have got their support but you have to make tough decisions for the good of the side.
"We'll make decisions by Thursday morning, by the toss. We're in a fine position at the moment in terms of fast bowling stocks. We've got a lot of very good fast bowlers and it's always a tough call."
For Australia, meanwhile, their problems ahead of the second Test stretch well beyond selection dilemmas, with reports of severe fractures in the dressing room having emerged over the past few days.
Former coach Micky Arthur is suing Cricket Australia following his dismissal, and court papers have lifted the lid on the issues he encountered during his controversial time at the helm.
The most explosive claim regards the relationship between skipper Michael Clarke and ex vice-captain Shane Watson, with the former alleged to have described his teammate as a 'cancer' in the squad.
Clarke, though, is focused only on claiming a win at Lord's and says Australia are benefiting from the appointment of new coach Darren Lehmann, both on and off the field.
"I've talked before about my relationship with Shane Watson and so has Shane and I'm not going to go backwards," Clarke told reporters.
"For us and the team, it's about looking forward. It's great to have (new coach) Darren Lehmann on board and he's been outstanding in galvanising this team and bringing us together.
"We've shown the media and public over the five days playing in Nottingham and we'd like to continue to show that in this second Test match. Our focus is making sure we're as well prepared as we can be and get out there and enjoy the second Test.
"None of this will be a distraction for me personally and it certainly won't be to the team. I'm focused on making sure I'm scoring runs firstly and we need to make sure we win this match and I'm looking forward to that."
England predicted line-up: Cook, Root, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Bairstow, Prior, Broad, Swann, Finn, Anderson.
Australia predicted line-up: Watson, Rogers, Khawaja, Clarke, Smith, Hughes, Haddin, Agar, Starc, Siddle, Pattinson.