Zak Crawley: Can he edge out Burns or Sibley?

CENTURION, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 28: England batsmen Rory Burns and Dom Sibley reach their 50 partnership during Day Three of the First Test match between England and South Africa at SuperSport Park on December 28, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The Opening Dilemma

It could be argued that Alistair Cook’s retirement has not hurt England as much as they might have imagined. Currently, England has three openers battling it out for just two places in the test team. Reports suggest that Zak Crawley could be the unlucky omission.

Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley have all made compelling cases over the last 18 months. All three have scored heavily in country cricket in the past. Such weight of runs has ultimately led to their England selection recently.

The question is, however – who will miss out? England will play both the West Indies and Pakistan this summer. Both have strong bowling attacks including the likes of Jason Holder and Mohammed Abbas.

Opening the batting will, therefore, be key. But, which of the three openers will be the unlucky one to miss out?

Zak Crawley

England’s Zak Crawley plays a shot during the third day of a three-day practice match between Sri Lanka Cricket XI and England at the Marians Cricket Club Ground in Katunayake on March 9, 2020. (Photo by Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP via Getty Images)

The outsider.

In reality, Zak Crawley probably has the lowest chance out of the three openers to start the summer. He replaced Rory Burns, who had suffered ligament damage to his ankle at Centurion.

He played at Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg and often guarded the middle and lower-order with his defensive yet effective batting.

However, in all four tests, he has been unable to covert starts – with a highest score of only 66. This means that it is likely he will be the back-up opener, but it depends on what route Ashley Giles is willing to take.

Crawley has the power to safeguard the middle and lower-order because he is technique-wise sound. Will Ashley Giles revert to Crawley? Or will Burns and Sibley start the summer?

Batsmen who could feature for England during 2020 – Matt Howes

Rory Burns

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – AUGUST 02: Rory Burns of England celebrates reaching his century during day two of the first Ashes test match at Edgbaston on August 2, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Rory Burns was England’s second-highest scorer in the 2019 Ashes. He amassed 390 runs in the series at an average of 39. He battled hard and played incredibly well against an awesome Australian bowling attack featuring the likes of Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon.

His 312 ball 133 at Edgbaston showed that he could be patient as an opener, while still capitalising on any bad deliveries. He managed 49 fours in the Ashes series – the most by any England player.

It would be incredibly surprising if Rory Burns was to be omitted for the first test against the West Indies, starting on July 8th.

Dominic Sibley

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – JANUARY 06: England batsman Dominic Sibley celebrates after reaching his maiden Test century during Day Four of the Second Test between South Africa and England at Newlands on January 06, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Dominic Sibley scored a fantastic century against South Africa at Cape Town. He looked assured and calm against a lethal bowling attacking feature both Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander.

Sibley also top-scored in the county championship last season with 1324 runs at 69.98. Technique wise is similar to Burns – in the sense that both of them are leg-side players. However, both know their weaknesses and more often than not cover them well.

 

 

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