After Alex Hales became the latest person to come in and fail as an England opener, here is a look through statistics at which of Alastair Cook's eight opening partners were just your run-of-the-mill openers, the downright failures, and the ones who perhaps should have been stuck with for a bit longer.
To look at this, a few statistics have been invented for the purpose of defining the quality of a batsman and specifically, in this case, an opener. An opener has two jobs firstly to score runs like any other batsman and secondly to see off the new ball. As a result of the second job, a different statistic has been used to show how good they were at blunting the new ball.
Seeing off the new ball is defined as when an opener is still there after 15 overs of the innings. It is specifically 15 overs as by that time the shine of the new ball has gone and the ball swings less.
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For the purpose of showing how successful Cook's partners were at actually scoring runs their averages as an opener are included. Also with England coach Trevor Bayliss' desire for an attacking opener their strike rates have also been included.
Onto the stats:
From these stats, it is clearly visible that Cook's last four opening partners have been much less successful at doing an opener's job than his first four partners. With this knowledge, it is fair to say Cook's four latest opening partners can clearly be counted as failures and that there is no need to look at them in any great detail.
So with Trott, Lyth, Ali and Hales ruled out of contention for the spot as Cook's best opening partner since Strauss, the case is now narrowed down to Compton, Root, Carberry and Robson.
Firstly Joe Root, he sits with the best average of all the openers by some way due to his monstrous 180 against Australia in the summer of 2013. This average statistic is perhaps slightly misleading as that was 180 was one of only two notable contributions as an England opener.
Also in that innings of 180, Root perhaps should have gotten out for just seven when he edged at very catchable height between wicketkeeper and 1st slip, with neither fielder attempting to catch it. Root's other problem was seeing off the new ball in comparison with Compton and Carberry, sitting at a lowly 60% compared to Carberry's 70%.
Sam Robson was selected in replacement for Carberry after his prodigious returns in County Cricket the previous summer. His average was a reasonable 30.55, but this was against the notably weak bowling attacks of Sri Lanka and India. Robson was also poor at seeing off the new ball, with him batting after 15 overs of an innings just 54.54% of the time.
Nick Compton was the first one tried as an England opener and also had the longest time to cement his place in the side. He had a decent but not spectacular average but his main success came in blunting the new ball and making it easier for England's middle order. Although in four of Compton's tests he was arguably batting at the easiest time as batting against the new ball in India is the best time to bat. Compton also struggled with scoring quickly with a lowly strike rate of just 34.24.
Finally Michael Carberry, Carberry came in for the disastrous 2013/14 Ashes whitewash in Australia and, compared to some of his England teammates, fared rather well. He had the worst average of the openers being looked at but was incredibly successful at seeing off the new ball and setting a platform for England's middle order.
Carberry also played against the toughest bowling attack England have faced in the last four years with Australia's Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris in their prime. Carberry's problem largely involved not converting starts into more meaningful scores, a problem many of England's batsmen faced in that series.
So who has been Cook's best opening partner since Strauss?
Well despite Root's higher average he can be ruled out, as this was perhaps a largely misleading statistic due to his one very high score. Sam Robson can also be ruled out as he was not nearly as successful at doing an opener's second job that is too see off the new ball. That leaves it between Carberry and Compton? Both had very similar statistics with very little separating them in any category barring strike rate, but perhaps the thing that sets them apart the most is how Carberry coped against Johnson and co.
In a series where very few players came out with creditability Carberry was one of them and arguably should have been stuck with for the following summer. So to conclude Carberry was the best opening partner for Cook since Strauss.
Who do you think was the best opener? Comment below.
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