Kevin Pietersen's 7,584 test runs have helped to steer England's cricket team through one of the most successful periods in it's history.

Despite this monumental record, England's 2-0 lead over a weak Australian side will reduce the pressure on the player who attempts to fill his shoes. But who should that player be? Here, we look at five of the most likely candidates open to the England board of selectors.

Nick Compton
After initially being earmarked as the England team's successor to ex-opener Andrew Strauss, Compton was dropped before the start of this Ashes series after an unconvincing start to his international career. However, the board of selectors showed their continued interest in the South-African born batsman when they arranged for him to play for county side Worcestershire against the Aussies in a warm-up match 3 weeks ago. Although this would indicate that Compton is the next batsman in line, Pietersen's batting position in the middle order, along with Root's massive century in the second test, make it seem unlikely that the batting line-up will be returned to the one faced New Zealand over the winter. Also, England's commanding position will perhaps convince the selectors to go for a younger, more promising talent than the 30 year-old Compton.

James Taylor
Taylor is a popular option for both fans and the media, after the 23-year-old has enjoyed another strong season so far with Nottinghamshire, scoring 824 runs. Although Taylor was unconvincing against South Africa when he made his debut in 2012, only managing scores of 34, 10 and four, he has impressed whilst playing for the England Lions, captaining the side during three tours, and making two centuries in both First Class and List A formats. Taylor will undoubtedly be desperate to prove his worth on the international scene, especially after watching former Lions colleagues Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow excelling for England at Lords last weekend.

Gary Ballance
This Zimbabwean born Yorkshire adoptee has enjoyed a prolific start to his career, averaging 52.76 for his 4,116 runs so far. Ballance has enjoyed a fine season in 2013 also, passing 50 seven times in twelve innings on his way to a total of 690 runs, and he will be looked upon favourably by the board of selectors due to his position in the Yorkshire middle order. Another bonus with the selection of Ballance would be the fact that he is left-handed, which would make him only the second of the English specialist batsmen, after captain Alastair Cook.

Varun Chopra
Varun Chopra has enjoyed a fantastic season so far in 2013, scoring 818 runs at 58.43, including three centuries. This form will undoubtedly have alerted the board of selectors to the Warwickshire opening batsman although, similarly to Nick Compton, his specialist role as an opener will count against him. This may not be Chopra's moment, but if he keeps up his prolific run scoring, he will surely find that his opportunity may not be too far away.

Alex Lees
Perhaps the most unlikely of my choices, the 20-year-old Yorkshire opener has only played in eight first class matches for his county so far. However, a return of 574 runs, including three centuries, one of which was a huge unbeaten 275 against Derbyshire last week, will surely have alerted the selectors to the size of Lees' prodigious talents. One option could be to slot Lees into the middle order, similarly to how Root made his first appearances, in order to give him valuable international experience early on in his promising career.

 

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Topics:
#Nick Compton
#Kevin Pietersen
#England cricket
#Cricket
#The Ashes