Cook ponders bowling options

Andover Advertiser: Alastair Cook, pictured, confirmed that Ian Bell and Tim Bresnan were fit and ready for the second Test Alastair Cook, pictured, confirmed that Ian Bell and Tim Bresnan were fit and ready for the second Test

All options will be available to England as they fine-tune selection for the second Ashes Test, after confirmation of both Ian Bell and Tim Bresnan's fitness.

Bell was able to bat in the nets on Wednesday afternoon, despite being hit on the shoulder taking throw-downs in the Adelaide Oval nets 24 hours earlier, and captain Alastair Cook underlined Bresnan's readiness after his recovery from a stress fracture of the back.

Bell, currently by far England's most reliable batsman, is thought likely to stay at number five to provide stability in a middle order sure to contain some inexperience following Jonathan Trott's return home because of a stress-related illness.

It is less clear whether England will need Bresnan at a venue where there is a temptation to instead field two spinners.

There was never any serious, lasting doubt about Bell's well-being, and Cook said: "He's fine.

"It's just one of those places on the shoulder - it just goes dead for a few hours.

"He's back training today."

Workhorse seamer Bresnan too is ready, as he himself spelled out on Tuesday.

Cook added: "He's fully fit.

"He's come back amazingly well from his injury in his back, his stress fracture.

"He played that last game for the EPP (a week ago), and came through that totally unscathed.

"He's ready and available for selection.

"One of his great skills is he does bowl a lot of overs in Test matches. He's done that in the past.

"If we decide to go Bresy, he's ready to play."

Bresnan still appears to be England's percentage choice.

But Cook is not discounting the suggestion that Monty Panesar could yet be back for his first Ashes Test since July 2009, as a spin twin for Graeme Swann. "It is a realistic option," the England captain said.

"That's one of the skills you try and have as a captain and coach, senior players, to try to judge the state of the wicket.

"One of crucial things about home advantage is you know the wicket better than the opposition, so we have to use all experience to pick the right side."

If England still have some thinking to do about their Adelaide attack, it seems they have concluded deliberations about whether Bell or Joe Root will bat in Trott's place at number three.

That decision, however, will remain a secret until the toss takes place on Thursday.

"We're clear in our own mind," said Cook.

"It's a tough, crucial position to fill.

"Trotty has done it 49 times...and was outstanding for us at three and gave us a lot of amazing contributions.

"It's a big hole to fill, so someone has to stand up and (do that)."

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