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Cook wants to grab the big chance

Alastair Cook has insisted he would not just be keeping the seat warm for Michael Vaughan when he takes over the injured captain's number three position in first Test against Lanka.

india Updated: May 10, 2006 09:56 IST

Alastair Cook has insisted he would not just be keeping the seat warm for Michael Vaughan when he takes over the injured England captain's usual number three position in this week's first Test against Sri Lanka here at Lord's.

Cook, a 21-year-old Essex left-handed opener, burst on to the international scene in March when, just over 48 hours after being summoned from the A tour of the Caribbean, he made a century in his debut Test against India in Nagpur.

But with Marcus Trescothick, who came home early from the India tour for personal reasons, set to resume his partnership at the top of the order with Andrew Strauss, Cook now finds himself at three with Vaughan still ruled out with a knee injury and the selectors jettisoning Ian Bell from their first-choice team.

"Most of the time I've opened. But you'd bat anywhere for England. The only difference is that you can put your feet up when the other two lads go out straight away and you get to watch a bit," Cook told reporters at Lord's.

"It's still the same game and I've still got to go through the same things to make sure I'm right when I bat," added Cook, who has occasionally batted at three for Essex.

"Tres is back, he's world-class opener and he has to open. His record proves it. I'm just lucky enough to be included in the side and I'm quite looking forward to batting at number three," added Cook ahead of what is set to be his home Test debut when the opening encounter in a three-match series starts at Lord's on Thursday.

"Obviously Vaughny's going to be captain when he come back. But if you keep scoring runs they can't leave you out."

Cook said his 104 not out in Nagpur had helped settle him into the international scene. "Test cricket's not so much the unknown now, it gives you a little belief knowing you've scored a hundred."

But he is set to for a new challenge later this week when he faces Sri Lanka's champion off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for the first time.

"I haven't faced him before. He's obviously a world-class spinner but there are a lot of people who've played him well in this (England) side and it's up to me to go up to them and try to get any hints and advice they can give me.

"Tres had played him particularly well and it's not rocket science to know that another left-handed opener (Trescothick) would be the first person I'd talk to.

"Talking to other players worked in India when I faced Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble but it's when you face them, obviously, when you really learn."

Meanwhile England left-arm spinner Monty Panesar, also hoping to making his home Test debut at Lord's after breaking through in India, said he was looking forward to learning from Muralitharan, who has taken 611 Test wickets.

"He has so many variations and is always keeping the batsman guessing," Panesar said.

"Someone like Murali, it's a good opportunity to see what he does and maybe, after the end of the series, just to talk to him and see what advice he can give me because he is, obviously, world-class."