Daily Mail UK – There could not have been a more dispiriting sight for England than Alastair Cook falling second ball of an Ashes tour that has hardly begun with a bang.
- And when another key all-rounder in Moeen Ali was ruled out of the first two tour matches through injury along with Stokes replacement in Steven Finn England might have been wondering whether, as they did fatally four years ago, early Ashes events were conspiring against them.
- If England are to have any chance of winning the Ashes then they really will need their big two in Root and Cook to score a mountain of runs, particularly with so many question marks hovering over the rest of the top order.
- Root had been desperate to play his preferred first Test team from the off here in an attempt to replicate Andrew Strauss’s successful policy of seven years ago when England went all out to win their three pre-Ashes warm-ups.
- Moeen is almost as important to England as Stokes and his absence for the first Test simply cannot be contemplated as it would disrupt the balance of the side and leave the untried Mason Crane as Root’s only spinning option.
- His absence here at least spared England the decision on whether to plump for Malan or Ballance in the middle order with the Yorkshire captain perhaps being the early preferred choice at five of Root.