England said on Monday rising star Joe Root is “currently the best opening partner for Alastair Cook” as they left Nick Compton out of their squad for the Ashes warm-up against Essex.
Compton, grandson of England great Denis, has opened for England alongside captain Cook in their past nine Tests, but could only manage 39 runs in four innings in a 2-0 home series win over New Zealand last month.
Root, so far for England a middle-order batsman, but an opener with Yorkshire, has been in fine form this season and scored his maiden Test century against New Zealand on his Headingley home ground.
However, Compton has an excellent chance to restate his case when southwest side Somerset, his county, play Australia in a four-day warm-up match in Taunton starting today, but he will not play for England against Essex, Cook’s county, in Chelmsford this coming weekend.
“We believe Joe Root is currently the best opening partner for Alastair Cook and he will open the batting against Essex,” England national selector Geoff Miller said in a statement.
“Joe has performed well for Yorkshire at the top of the order earlier this season, and during his international career so far has proven to be very adaptable in all three formats and relished the challenge of international cricket,” the former England off-spinner added.
England named a 14-man squad for the match, beginning on Sunday, and are expected to finalize a 12 or 13 a week or so later for the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England, starting on July 10.
Former Ireland international Boyd Rankin is the only member of the squad to face Essex who has yet to play for England in any format.
He joined five other pacemen in the squad — James Anderson, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and Graham Onions.
Rankin, Onions and a fit-again Kevin Pietersen are the only players selected who were not named in either a Test or one-day international squad against New Zealand earlier this season.
“This match is a vital part of our preparations for the Ashes after a period of limited-overs cricket for a large number of the squad,” Miller said. “We have a very exciting two months of Test cricket coming up and it is important we start well at Chelmsford next week. Kevin Pietersen has had no complications following his recent return to cricket after a knee injury — which is pleasing — and Graeme Swann is recovering well from a calf injury.”
Swann, England’s leading off-spinner, played in just one of the hosts’ matches in the Champions Trophy and he missed Sunday’s final defeat to India at Edgbaston in Birmingham.
Star batsman Pietersen, out of action since March because of a bruised right knee, returned in style by making 177 not out for Surrey against Yorkshire in the County Championship on Sunday in his first innings of the season.
Ashes-holders England will be bidding for a third straight Test series win over Australia — something they last achieved in the 1950s.