It hasn’t been the best of times to be an opener in England with bowlers running the rule for the most part in the ongoing Ashes series.
Opening batsmen from both sides have struggled massively in the five-match series which is about to veer towards its conclusion at the Oval.
As the series finale draws near after nearly six weeks of red-ball cricketing action, we look at how the openers from both sides have fared in the Ashes.
ENGLAND OPENING STATS
Opening stands in series
Edgbaston: 22 and 19
Lord’s: 0 and 9
Headingley: 10 and 15
Old Trafford: 10 and 0
The Oval: 27 and 54
Average opening stand: 20.75
With an average of nearly 50, England opener Rory Burns has been the exception to the rule in the current Ashes series. The left-hander registered a gritty ton on his Ashes debut at Edgbaston and he has since followed that up with well-deserved half-centuries at Lord’s and Old Trafford.
Given the way his more experienced counterparts have performed in the series, Burns’ run tally starts looking even more impressive. He has had to contend with a formidable Aussie pace unit led by Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood but has still managed to hold his own.
The 33-year-old Kent batsman was converted into a makeshift opener for the final two Tests after continuous failures for Jason Roy in the position. Denly’s ascension to the opening spot has been a fairly successful experiment with the right-hander registering half-centuries in the second innings at both Manchester and the Oval.
His partnership for 54 in the second innings in the ongoing final Test is the only time any opening pair has registered a half-century stand in the Ashes 2019.
The England limited-overs opener’s Test introduction hasn’t gone according to plan with the right-hander’s limited technique and footwork being horribly exposed by the Australian bowlers.
Roy could muster just the 57 runs in three Tests before he was dropped to No4 for the fourth Test at Manchester in a switch with Denly. Even that move failed to work for the right-hander who was completely axed from the squad for the final Test.
AUSTRALIA OPENING STATS
Opening stands in series
Edgbaston: 2 and 13
Lord’s: 11 and 13
Headingley: 12 and 10
Old Trafford: 1 and 0
The Oval: 5
Average opening stand: 9.57
Warner’s run tally of 84 looks even more shambolic considering the fact that 61 of them came in a single innings at Headingley. The Australia opener has been completely owned by Stuart Broad in the series with the England pacer getting the better of him on six separate occasions.
Six of the left-hander’s seven innings so far have resulted in single-digit scores while he has bagged three ducks in the process as well. In a disastrous series for top-order batsmen, Warner has been the biggest culprit.
The left-hander has been opening the batting alongside Warner since the third Test at Lord’s but his performances have been equally abysmal. Harris has only managed to get into double-digits twice in the series with the left-hander failing to improve things for Australia since replacing Cameron Bancroft.
The fact that he has also dropped some important catches in the field has only added to his misery in England.
Like Warner, Bancroft’s return to the Test fold has been a dismal one with the right-hander struggling badly in England before being dropped to make way for Harris.
It has been a big battle for Bancroft just to survive whenever he has been at the crease in the series with his strike-rate of approximately 27 being the lowest among all specialist batsmen from either side.
He hasn’t been able to defend and neither has he been able to take the attack to the opposition.
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