London: England gave a major hint regarding their thinking ahead of the first Ashes Test against Australia by dropping Nick Compton and promoting Joe Root to opener for a four-day warm-up match against county side Essex.
Compton has paid the price for scoring just 39 runs in four innings in the recent Test series against New Zealand.
"We believe Joe Root is currently the best opening partner for Alastair Cook and he will open the batting against Essex," national selector Geoff Miller said Monday in naming a 14-man squad for England's only warm-up match ahead of the Ashes.
An opener by trade, Root has slotted into the middle order to accommodate Compton in recent Test series against India and the Kiwis. But with Kevin Pietersen back to full fitness after a knee injury, Root appears likely to move up the batting lineup for the Ashes and Compton is expected to be the man to miss out.
Fresh off an unbeaten 177 for Surrey on Sunday in his comeback match after a three-month lay-off, Pietersen was included in the squad for the Essex game as was offspinner Graeme Swann, who missed some games in the recent Champions Trophy because of a calf injury.
"Kevin Pietersen has had no complications following his recent return to cricket after a knee injury, which is pleasing, and Graeme Swann is recovering well from a calf injury," Miller said.
Uncapped Boyd Rankin and Graham Onions - both fast bowlers - joined Pietersen in being the only players selected who were not named in either squad to face New Zealand in last month's Test series.
The first Ashes Test is at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, starting July 10. The warm-up match against Essex starts Sunday.