England have struggled to find a settled opener to partner Alastair Cook, since the retirement of the previous captain, Andrew Strauss. Nick Compton was the first man in possession of that spot, and after a solid start in India, and an excellent tour of New Zealand, his home form was decidedly average, and it was felt that he put too much pressure on Cook.
This coincided with the top form of youngster Joe Root, and with most pundits and a large proportion of the watching public wanting to see the Yorkshire youngster at the top of the order, it was decided that Australia would be bowling at the young Root early on.
An exceptional knock at Lord's, but a distinctly average run of form from there on in, saw Root lose his position at the top of the order for the return Ashes down under. Michael Carberry was given a shot during the tour matches, and he repaid the faith with some quality batting. He then proceeded to play the entirety of the Ashes tour, and applied himself very well. He was England's second highest run scorer you should remember.
But Carberry too came under pressure from the media and fans alike, meaning that the selectors have some work to do, and some discussions to have, in order to find Cook's latest partner. Here are the contenders (in my opinion, the six with the most chance of opening in the First Test against Sri Lanka)...
Ever since pledging his allegiance to England, Sam Robson has been spoken of as the next great England opener. His excellent technique and peerless stroke play make him a very astute top order batsman. Early runs this year have proven his steel, and opening alongside Chris Rogers means that he will have learnt a lot. With elegance and temperament in equal measure, Robson looks a good choice to partner Cook.
Chance of playing in First Test: 9/10
Carberry is currently the 'man in possession' of the opener's spot. His performance in the Ashes was more than solid, and coming away as the second highest run scorer for England, proved his solidity and worth at the top of the order. His early season form has been good, but nothing special.
Chance of playing in First Test: 7/10
Compton is a good performer with a good technique, but his worth as an International level opener has yet to be accounted for. In New Zealand he was good, but he always looked like he was putting pressure on Cook, and at times like these, that is the last thing the England captain wants.
Chance of playing in First Test: 2/10
Not a name known by many, but the Worcestershire opener has started this season with runs everywhere he goes. With three centuries and a 97 to his name already, Mitchell leads the country for runs scored. His work ethic and technique make him a very solid performer, but I don't think many will see him as 'international ready'. However, I think he will play for the England Lions this summer, and possibly push for a Test place if his runs keep coming.
Chance of playing in First Test: 4/10
Root has been tried at the top of the order, and apart from a sensational Ashes century, his time there was inundated with poor scoring. His domestic record at the top of the order is excellent, but he has also proved his worth in th middle order, and I think that is where his biggest strengths lie. There is no doubt that he will play the First Test of the summer, barring injuries, but I can't see him opening in it.
Chance of playing First Test: 10/10
Chance of opening in First Test: 5/10
Joyce is another man to make a fine start to the season in domestic cricket, and with experience and pedigree to his name, who is to say that a Test debut is out of the question. He has international experience for both Ireland and England, but not in the format of his forte. As a one-day batsman, his record and his skill are proven, but it is in the longer format's where he is most adept. A shot at England is not out of the question for the Sussex man, but I think his chance of a return to the International fold has come a little too late in his career for the England selectors.
Chance of playing in First Test: 4/10
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