Graeme Swann has said that if England are to win the Ashes series Down Under, which starts this week then Joe Root needs to come out and bat at No.3 to put early pressure on the bowlers.
The England captain has a better average batting at four (54.4) than he does batting at three (45.3) and has explicitly stated his preference for the former, but England have struggled to solve the problem of finding a player to stabilise the innings after the loss of the first wicket.
Root batted four times in the recent three-Test series against West Indies, and in only one of those innings had England scored more than 50 runs before the loss of the first two wickets, this would suggest that if he were to come in at 3 he could offer more stability to the batting line up.
Swann told The Mirror: “I would have him at three. I was a positive thinker, but when I saw Ricky Ponting walking in at three, you were put on the back foot because he was such a good player.
“Joe’s the same – he intimidates bowlers when he walks out.”
It seems Swann isn't alone in thinking Root should be pushed up the order as Shane Warne also agrees and like his fellow ex-spinner cites Ponting as the perfect example for the current England captain to follow.
"Ricky Ponting, when I saw him bat at three, to me he was one of the greatest players that I played with in my time,"
"He was so proactive at number three, you'd lose an early wicket in that first over and suddenly the bowler's on the back foot 20 minutes later; they're defensive, the slips moves out to cover and you can actually get the momentum back in your favour."
Yet with Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood, and Pat Cummins all in fine form, do England want to expose Root to the swinging new ball early on?
By batting him at four it allows him to come in against a slightly older ball, which can be to his advantage as he often likes to play his strokes early on in his innings to get him going.
Of course, it wouldn't even be up for debate if England's openers showed greater resolve in the early overs...
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