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Who could replace Kevin Pietersen for third Ashes Test?

Sports Mole takes a look at the batsmen in the running to replace Kevin Pietersen, should injury keep him out of the third Test against Australia.

It is still uncertain as to whether swashbuckling batsman Kevin Pietersen will have recovered from the calf strain he suffered during England's victory in the second Test against Australia to face off against the old adversaries when the third ones comes around next week.

With many batsman, both tried and tested and inexperienced at this level, Sports Mole picks out three of the most likely candidates to play, should Pietersen be ruled out.

Nick Compton:

The South Africa born Somerset opener was in the England Test side up until the beginning of the series with Australia, and while he perhaps did not show the same calm and collected batting style that he has done at first-class level there is enough to suggest that he has not been given his last chance.

Going against him is his age. At 30, he may well not be considered a long-term solution by the England selectors, which was backed up somewhat by his fleeting appearances in the squad for the series in India and New Zealand. In his Test debut he made a combined score of 46, with his final innings against New Zealand bringing just one.

However, between those relative failures was some good batting. Against New Zealand he scored his maiden Test century and followed it up with a second straight after to show the level of stability that saw him selected in the first place. However, despite a recent upturn in form and an appearance for Worcestershire in a match against an Ausralia XI, he appears to have slipped down the pecking order.

Alastair Cook and Nick Compton celebrate Cook's 50 against NZ on March 9, 2013© PA Photos

James Taylor:

It was Taylor who was given a slight look-in before Compton was preferred for the winter tours to India and New Zealand. However, the 23-year-old failed to impress on his debut against South Africa, scoring 48 in three innings.

Taylor is excellent playing off the back foot. With his ability to wait and play late, his game is perfectly suited to Test and first-class cricket and he is just the sort of player in the middle order who can keep a score ticking over. He also has the ability, as proven in one-day internationals and T20s, to shift through the gears with attacking shots, but the test will be whether he can maintain his composure during potentially long hours at the crease.

Although he has the temperament to bat in Tests, technical issues with his batting have been flagged up in recent years. He is efficient in the one-day game, but as such has the tendency to fend at the ball away from his pads early in an innings in first-class games, which is something an international seam attack could target.

Another thing in his favour, however, is that for his county Nottinghamshire Taylor bats at number four, so he could potentially slot into KP's position, although he might well be given the chance to impress at five or six.

James Taylor on August 20, 2012© PA Photos

Ravi Bopara:

Some think the Essex man is drinking in the last chance saloon, while everyone else thinks it is past closing time. Bopara is always there or there about in discussions regarding the Test selection, but he just has not shown enough to make himself a regular in the side.

Bopara is nearing 30 himself and has so far played 19 innings with the bat in 13 Test matches. He averages 31.94 - far from bad - but his technique is more suited to the one-day game, which has left him being used mainly as a utility player and lower down the order. The issue with that is that with many of England's bowlers being able to bat, in Tests there is little room for such a player.

Whether the selectors have room for any further chances for Bopara will become evident soon, but with Pietersen's injury potentially requiring a number four batsman, Bopara looks the least likely of the options. Bringing in Bopara would see Ian Bell and Jonny Bairstow slide up, while Compton would see Joe Root slip back down.

Ravi Bopara on July 21, 2012© PA Photos

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James Taylor on August 20, 2012
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