A Sunday morning at the Oval. Bright sunshine and clear skies were on the menu as the World Cup favourites India and Australia faced off.
The Australian top six for the first Test of the summer is far from settled.
Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith enjoyed successful Ashes series and will be certain to keep the three and four positions, Matthew Wade’s two Ashes centuries should see him keep the number five spot, while David Warner’s Shield century at the Gabba should see him hold on for the time being.
That leaves one opening spot, as well as the number six position.
If the selectors want a pace all-rounder, Marcus Stoinis looms as the most likely option at six, having passed 50 in all three of his Shield innings this season.
However, if the selectors want a younger batsman, either Will Pucovski or Josh Philippe loom large. Pucovski, in particular, has been backed for a Test spot by a number of former players.
As for the opening contenders, nobody has done well enough to demand selection.
Nic Maddinson and Marcus Harris both made centuries during Victoria’s first match of the season but scored them on a road.
Harris made 50 in Victoria’s second match but, given his poor Ashes series, needs to make more runs to hold onto his spot.
If none of the other opening contenders make a strong enough case in the next two Shield rounds, Australia should consider playing a makeshift opener against Pakistan.
A player that has the potential to succeed is ODI wicketkeeper Alex Carey.
Carey would certainly be a speculative selection, he has never opened the batting in his first-class career and averages 32 at first-class level.
In domestic limited-overs cricket, Carey usually opens the batting for South Australia and the Adelaide Strikers, yet in the World Cup he batted in the middle order and did very well.
This shows he is able to adapt to better suit the position he is playing in.
While there is certainly no guarantee that Carey will perform as a Test opener, he couldn’t possibly do any worse than Warner, Harris and Cameron Bancroft did in England.
Even if he doesn’t perform as an opener and is dropped, the selectors could bring him back into the side as the keeper whenever Tim Paine retires.