Skipper's blog

Opening Up

Over my 40 years of watching Test Cricket, England have always had at least one quality, experienced opening bat. Most of that time we often had two. Through Boycott, Gooch, Atherton, Stewart, Trescothick, Strauss and Cook, each new opener had an experienced man at the other hand and eventually grew out of their shadow to become great themselves. With Cook's retirement, that era is over.

Since Strauss's retirement 6 years ago, England have tried and discarded a dozen partners for Cook. Whilst Root, Trott and Ali have had successful careers further down the order, others such as Compton and Robson have drifted out of contention after promising starts.

Some may not mourn the passing of Cook's career as they may have done a few years ago, but one cannot help but feel that Cook's latter innings were hindered by the rotation of openers and their lack of success. The already onerous responsibility of opening for England is doubled without an reliable and consistent partner.

So it would appear that England haven't produced a new medium or long term opening batsmen for 12 years. Perhaps it is no co-incidence that Twenty20 cricket started in 2003 and internationals began 2 years later.

Other countries seem to be stuggling to some extent too. There are few opening batsmen in the higher echelons of the ICC batsmen rankings. In New Zealand with the exaggerated but brief swing of the Kookaburra ball it was almost worth opening with a nightwatchmen, such was the clatter of early wickets followed by more benign conditions.

England need to think about a programme to develop future opening bats without the diversion of limited overs cricket. I wonder if Sir Geoffrey has a spare hour or two?



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