Alastair Cook: England and Essex opener earns automatic 'South team' one-day place
Former England captain Alastair Cook has earned an automatic place in the 2018 North-South series – a competition designed to look at players on the fringes of the national one-day team.
Cook has not played a one-day international since he was sacked as limited-overs captain in December 2014.
The 32-year-old has scored 503 One-Day Cup runs for Essex this season putting him third in the MVP Rankings.
The top four England-qualified players from both groups get automatic slots.
It is not known if Cook will accept the invitation for the South team, as the dates for the tournament have not been confirmed and it could clash with his England Test commitments.
But the England and Wales Cricket Board said the series would “be watched closely by the England selectors and management in their planning for the 2019 World Cup”.
Cook was replaced by Eoin Morgan as England one-day captain less than two months before the 2015 World Cup, after averaging just 27.52 in his final 20 one-dayers.
However, he has been in fine form for Essex this summer, scoring two hundreds and three half-centuries in leading his county side to the top of the One-Day Cup South Group.
Hampshire captain James Vince, who guided South to a 3-0 series victory in the United Arab Emirates in March, has again qualified automatically along with Kent and England Lions opener Daniel Bell-Drummond and Cook’s Essex team-mate Ravi Bopara.
Derbyshire all-rounder Shiv Thakor, Durham and England opener Keaton Jennings, Warwickshire batsman Sam Hain and Yorkshire captain Gary Ballance are the automatic picks for the North team.
The 13-man North and South squads will be confirmed at the end of the English domestic season in September.
What is the North v South series?
The three-match series is designed as a warm-up for county cricket’s 50-over competition – the Royal London One-Day Cup – as well as helping players prepare for international cricket.
Eight players earn an automatic place on each team – with North represented by players from northern counties and South from southern counties – through the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s Most Valued Player ratings formula, while the remaining players were chosen by the England selectors.
The PCA MVP rankings system identifies the match-winners and key influencers of games throughout the domestic season.
It takes into account conditions, quality of opposition, captaincy and strike rates as well as runs scored and wickets taken.