England as expected have acted quickly to fill the void left by Strauss the captain, but who will replace Strauss the opener? Surprisingly Strauss and Cook have not missed many matches, this partnership and Jonathan Trott at number 3 have been the axis of England’s batting, allowing the middle order to play freely. The options to become Cooks new partner in my eyes are: Joe Root, Michael Carberry, Jonathan Trott or the outside shout of Daniel Bell-Drummond.
1. Joe Root:
At 21 some may say that he is the perfect age to develop into the international game, others may argue he needs to develop his game at first class level before he is exposed to the tough away tours of India and New Zealand. I am firmly of the belief that if your good enough you should get a chance. There was a certain player called Sachin Tendulkar who started at a young age. Root has had a good year, performing well on the lions tour.
He has a first class average of 40.02, this is good for such a young player, although he will be facing a higher calibre of bowling in international cricket. To his name he has 4 hundreds in first class cricket, showing he can convert scores into 3 figures well. Expectations on Root are very high, playing for Yorkshire he has been compared to two greats of the game. It has been said in the past that he has the front foot play of Michael Vaughn and the concentration levels of Boycott. It is evident that Root is made for test cricket, but the selectors will have to decide if they want to go for a younger guy to develop into the squad or having a shorter term goal of victory in India and in particular the Ashes.
2. Michael Carberry:
It seems that Carberry has been waiting for ever behind Strauss and Cook. For this reason it seems only fair that the 31 year old now gets his chance right? Maybe not the selection will not be based on sentiment, it will be what’s right for the squad. He has test experience to his name albeit just one test away to Bangladesh. Carberry has found Hampshire his adoptive county where he has consistently scored runs. He has twice been involved in record stands, one for the record 2nd wicket partnership, and the other for the highest partnership in county cricket history. This being a partnership of 523 runs last year. This shows he has the concentration to score big runs in test cricket.
At 31 many people will back the younger guy to come in for longevity reasons, but it should be remembered that Michael Hussey waited until his 29th birthday to make his test bow. He is still going strong 8 years later, this could mean that if Carberry is to keep himself fit and on form he could play for a while. A good fielder also, has the game to succeed at test level. It seems for me that England may decide to look for a younger man to develop into the team, meaning that Carberry unfortunately may miss out.
3. Jonathan Trott:
There is the option of moving Trott from number 3 to opening, this would mean that another middle order batsman would come into the team. This would open up the possibility of Bell being moved to number 3 and either Bopara or (dare I say it) Peitersen to come back. The advantage of having Trott opening is that he and Cook have batted together for long periods of time, so know each others games. Another advantage to this is that on many occasions Trott has come in to bat after an early wicket, which means that he can open the batting. This would also mean that another player has to come into the number 3 slot, probably one of the most important batting positions in test cricket, could be a potential problem for England.
4. Daniel Bell-Drummond:
Im not sure he is actually on the England test radar at the moment, as he is still very young but looks a good player. At 19 he has very little experience at first class level, but has been a regular for England under 19’s. His county Kent were very keen to test him out against the touring South Africans in a tour match this year. Bell-Drummond held his own and looked composed despite facing the worlds top bowling attack. He has a strong West Indian style to his batting and is a player who likes to get on top of the bowlers. I had said that Sachin Tendulkar started at a young age, he was actually younger than Bell-Drummond is now. I doubt that the selectors are considering him at this age but he should definitely be considered. If he was to fail it could be detrimental to future career, but this is a risk that could work out well.
So who to pick?:
Any of the players I have mentioned could do a good job for England as an opener, it all depends on what way selectors wish to go. I hope that when the selectors make their decision, they should ignore early failures. The person who is chosen should be given at least 10 games to show the true talent. I personally think Root will get the first chance as he is of an age where he can play for around 15 years.