What the duck? Noughty England bring up crazy milestone as top order terrors continue

Ashes, Cricket, featured



England face a top-order quandary for the final two Tests of the Ashes after another failure from their openers.

Down 2-0 and staring down the barrel of another lost Ashes series in Australia, the tourists’ batting horrors continued in the third Test in Melbourne on Boxing Day as they slumped to 2-13 early.

After five innings in the series, England’s average opening partnership is now just 7.6 while none of the three men used have passed 40.

That figure is even worse than Australia produced in the 2019 Ashes in England, where their opening stand averaged just 8.5.

The latest disappointment came after coach Chris Silverwood dropped Rory Burns for Melbourne, bringing in Zak Crawley in his place.

It made little difference, with Haseeb Hameed edging a Pat Cummins delivery to be caught behind before Cummins also had Crawley caught in the gully for 12 following his partner’s duck.

Hameed’s duck was England’s 50th of the calendar year.

The openers’ failures continue to expose England’s best batsmen to the new ball, in what former players such as Ian Bell warned before the series would be a worst-case scenario.

In England’s three first innings so far in this Ashes series, No.4 Joe Root has arrived at the wicket in the fourth, seventh and ninth overs.

Their other cornerstone, Dawid Malan, has had it even tougher.

He was in the middle by the third ball of the series in Brisbane, the third over in Adelaide and the second over on Boxing Day in Melbourne.

What England do for the final two Tests is no easy answer.

The axed Burns is the only other recognised opener in their squad, however recalling him would only create a musical chairs situation at the top.

Jonny Bairstow would be a left-field pick, having been brought back into the England team to bat at No.6 for Melbourne.

Bairstow has batted at the top in white-ball formats, but never at Test level in a team that has used 21 openers in the past 10 years.

Other options would include moving Malan up to open, despite also having not opened previously in Test cricket.

ENGLAND’S OPENING PARTNERSHIPS THIS ASHES SERIES

Brisbane: 0, 23

Adelaide: 4, 7

Melbourne: 4

© AAP

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