Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gooch Is Coy over Cover for Pietersen; England Must Plan for Pivotal Ashes Clash

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gooch Is Coy over Cover for Pietersen; England Must Plan for Pivotal Ashes Clash

Article excerpt

ENGLAND must explore contingency plans to cover for Kevin Pietersen in case his sore calf rules him out of their bid to clinch the Ashes at Old Trafford next week.

Alastair Cook's team are on the verge of winning the urn for a third successive time - something last achieved by England more than 30 years ago - after their 347-run trouncing of Australia at Lord's on Sunday.

That resounding success was completed in the absence of the injured Pietersen, off the field during the tourists' second innings after a scan revealed he had strained his left calf.

He is considered doubtful already for the third Investec Test in Manchester.

Unfortunate history is therefore threatening to repeat itself for Pietersen, who also missed the final three matches of England's last surge to home Ashes series victory with an Achilles injury in 2009.

England batting coach Graham Gooch is not prepared, and unqualified he insists too, to publicly discuss the potential replacements for Pietersen - who had a lean time in England's middle order at Lord's, where he made only seven runs in his two innings.

"I know he's got a problem with his calf, a strain," said Gooch.

"Whether he will be fit for Old Trafford ... he'd be in doubt.

"I'm sure there will be some cover supplied."

The potential replacement personnel remains open to conjecture, with several plausible candidates but none presenting an obviously compelling case.

Among the feasible contenders, Nick Compton is the one who most recently inhabited an England batting position - but that was as a specialist opener before he was dropped in favour of Joe Root, whose second-innings 180 helped England into their 2-0 lead. Speaking specifically about Compton, Gooch said: "I'm not a selector, so I couldn't give you an indication to whether he would be the next cab off the rank."

Unlike others, the Somerset opener has not been seen around the England team on practice days.

A clutch of others have and Gooch implicitly acknowledges the significance. …

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