Ashes countdown: Alastair Cook’s form is no cause for panic – Mark Stoneman

Alastair Cook remains short of runs at the start of England's Ashes tour after his second cheap dismissal in as many innings. (Picture: Nigel French/PA Wire)

England’s Mark Stoneman has downplayed fresh concerns over Alastair Cook’s form leading into the Ashes series in Australia.

Since compiling a double century against West Indies at Edgbaston in August, Cook has only scored 76 runs in six innings. The former England captain was dismissed on the second ball of the tour to Australia against a Western Australian XI in Perth last week before falling for just 15 in the pink-ball practice game against a Cricket Australia XI in Adelaide.

That’s the nature of opening the batting but I think the feeling between us is quite good, and there’s a decent level of chemistry. His record speaks for itself.

Mark Stoneman on Alastair Cook

Cook’s form will be a worry for director of cricket Andrew Strauss and coach Trevor Bayliss given England’s woes with the bat during the summer series against South Africa and West Indies. But Stoneman, Cook’s 14th opening partner since Strauss retired, has confidence the country’s leading runscorer will find his touch in time for the first Test in two weeks.

“He’s had a couple of decent balls early, up front,” the Durham batsman said. “That’s the nature of opening the batting but I think the feeling between us is quite good, and there’s a decent level of chemistry.

“His record speaks for itself.”

Cook scored 766 runs during England’s last series win in Australia six years ago but failed to repeat his performances as England crumbled to a 5-0 whitewash against the fierce pace of Mitchell Johnson and co last time around.

England captain Joe Root was another to struggle with Australian conditions in 2013 but he found rhythm on the opening day at the Adelaide Oval yesterday with a timely half-century. Stoneman and Malan also passed the milestone but England’s fragility surfaced as a succession of sloppy dismissals saw them finish day one on 278-8. Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow fell for just nine.

England are using the warm-up match as preparation for the first day-night Ashes encounter in Adelaide on December 2. The pink ball looked to cause batsmen problems with timing but Stoneman said he did not find the change too taxing.

“It was fine,” added the 30-year-old. “There was the odd one that seamed early on, but not a great deal of movement.”

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