England play down concerns over Alastair’s Cook back injury

England brushed aside any concerns surrounding captain Alastair Cook`s availability for the upcoming Ashes series in Australia despite the opening batsman`s decision to skip a practice session on Tuesday due to a sore back.

The left-hander missed England`s hit-out at the Floreat Oval in Western Australia to receive treatment on his back while fast bowler Stuart Broad also sat out the session with a similar problem.

"I`m sure he`ll be fine," England`s top-order batsman Ian Bell told reporters. "He`s had the odd little niggle with the back, which I suppose we all have certain areas we have to keep working on.

"Obviously a long flight isn`t always easy. I`m sure he`ll be right in the next week or so."

Cook is expected to sit out of the visitors` first three-day tour match against a WA Chairman`s XI, starting at the WACA Ground on Thursday.

England, who won the first of the back-to-back Ashes series 3-0 at home, will play two more warm-up games before the opening test of five against Australia starts at Brisbane on November 21.

For the hosts, George Bailey, currently leading Australia in a one-day international series in India, moved into prime position to secure a call up to the test team after he missed out on a spot in the `A` side to face England next week.

National selector John Inverarity said they would prefer the in-form batsman to face Australia paceman Ryan Harris in a domestic match against Queensland starting on the same day.


"We thought George had gone past that, that`s more development and he was firmly entrenched as an Australian player," Inverarity told reporters.

"He`s a very mature, calm young man. Composed, and I think you`ll see in his batting performances, a difficult situation brings out the best in him."

The 31-year-old Bailey averages more than 53 in 33 ODIs for Australia but is yet to make his test debut.

"When we look at a player, we look at four things," Inverarity added. "Their batting, their bowling, their fielding and their character - or what else they bring to the team.

"And George certainly brings a great deal in that character category to the team. His performance in ODI cricket has been outstanding.

"Since he started 18 months ago, he`s been our best performed one-day player, in terms of average runs, aggregate and strike rate."

Australia test captain Michael Clarke said he would be "extremely happy" if Bailey got the nod for a middle-order spot in the Ashes side.

"Bailes has done an exceptional job in the last couple of years in the shorter formats and he`s leading the boys really well," Clarke said.

"It`s obviously going to come down to performance and who selectors think the right man is for that position but I`ve always enjoyed playing alongside Bailes, he`s a great fella and if they select him I`ll be extremely happy."

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