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Australia's openers in waiting

Joe Burns must be taken serious by Australian selectors. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
Roar Pro
8th November, 2016
5

Opening the batting is often a thankless job, but it is undoubtedly an important one.

Thankfully, Australia’s Test team has managed to have regular openers in the last two years, with minimal turnover.

Over Australia’s last 23 Test matches, it has used four openers. David Warner, who has featured every time, has averaged 51 in that period.

His partners have been Chris Rogers, Joe Burns and on four occasions, Shaun Marsh.

Yet with Rogers retired and Marsh facing another injury lay-off, who else does Australia have in the way of opening batsmen? If Warner were to get injured, Burns, still quite new at Test level, and a newcomer would face a fiery and disciplined South African attack in Hobart and Adelaide.

Joe Burns

The numbers from the first two rounds of the Sheffield Shield don’t make for particularly good reading for the new-ball batsmen of the country either.

In fact, of the 13 openers used so far, excluding Warner, Marsh, and Burns, only five have more runs than Jackson Bird, who has 60 next to his name.

The standout batsman has been Marcus Harris, the diminutive left-hander who now plays for Victoria. He began the campaign with 115 and 77 against a Tasmanian attack featuring Bird, and has followed up with 75 against Queensland.

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The 24-year-old debuted way back in 2011 for Western Australia and has averaged 31 across 44 first-class matches. His maiden century came in just his third match – a huge 157 from 411 balls. You would have seen him in the Big Bash, where he has represented Perth for the past two seasons.

As his numbers suggest, consistency has been a real issue for him thus far, but his start to the current season is extremely promising.

Despite beginning his Shield season with a duck, another hugely promising opener to keep an eye on is Jake Weatherald from South Australia.

Weatherald posted his maiden first-class ton on Friday, which was also his twenty-second birthday.

If you were paying attention, the left-hander had a great Matador Cup, with 284 runs at 47, including a huge 141 against the Cricket Australia XI.

Now, from his first six first-class matches, the attacking opener has 442 runs at a touch under 50. That’s an outstanding start to a career.

Matt Renshaw, the exciting opener from Queensland, is yet to play a Shield game this season because of a knee injury he sustained in the Matador Cup.

However get ready when he does, because the 20-year-old has begun his career with 863 runs from his initial 11 matches.

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Others to tease in the past, who have struggled thus far, have been Travis Dean, who has just 43 runs this season, Jordan Silk, who has nine, Cameron Bancroft, with 65 runs, and of course, Ed Cowan, with 137 runs.

Dean has failed to capitalise on his incredible start last season.

Silk hasn’t made a first-class century since the 2013-14 season.

Cowan is a more well-rounded batsman now but won’t get another chance.

And Bancroft is probably closest of the lot but has had a slow beginning to 2016-17, with scores of 20, 17, 22 and six.

There are a few options around, but it’s certainly not an embarrassment of riches.

Let’s hope Joey Burns hits them alright in Hobart. I’ll be thanking him big-time if he helps us square the series.

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