Cook earns invite for series introduced for England hopefuls

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Former England captain Alastair Cook has been invited to play in the 2018 North-South Series, which was introduced in Dubai this year to give players a chance to stake their claim for an international call-up.

Cook was sacked as skipper of the one-day international side in December 2014, just a couple of months before the World Cup.

England's leading Test run-scorer has not played for his country in limited-overs cricket since, but has scored 503 runs in eight innings for Essex at an average of over 70 in the Royal London One-Day Cup this season.

Cook's exploits have earned him an automatic invite to play for the South in the second edition of the three-match series next year, but it remains to be seen whether he will take up the chance.

The opener gained selection due to being among the top four England-qualified players in the Professional Cricketers' Association's MVP Rankings.

While Cook is unlikely to earn a recall for the 2019 ICC World Cup, Hampshire captain James Vince, Derbyshire all-rounder Shiv Thakor and Kent opener Daniel Bell-Drummond will be hoping to impress the selectors.

Cook's Essex and former England team-mate Ravi Bopara has also gained an automatic invite over two years since his last ODI appearance.