For many years, the identity of Alastair Cook’s opening partner has provided a headache for England selectors.
His massive score of 147 in the second innings of the fifth test against India was perhaps the most fitting way to go out.
Many have tried but never outlasted the Chef, but following his announcement earlier this month that he will retire from Test cricket the hunt for his replacement is on.
Fellow opener Keaton Jennings should keep his place for the tour of Sri Lanka, so we take a look at possible options to replace Cook – England’s record Test run-scorer.
The name that seems to be on everyone’s lips for the role. Burns is the man in form in the County Championship.
The Surrey left-hander is the only man to surpass 1,000 runs, with a current average of 65.81.
Burns is in his first season as captain and his run-haul suggest he’s not feeling the weight of extra responsibility.
Chief selector Ed Smith hasn’t always gone for the clear and obvious but it would raise eyebrows if Burns wasn’t on the way to Sri Lanka.
Hales partnered Cook for 11 Tests during 2015-16 and three times in five innings he passed 80 runs against Sri Lanka.
He was unable to convert these into centuries, however, and it would be a huge call to bring him back in.
If he can convert his fluency in the limited overs cricket to the longer game he may work his way into the fold.
Stoneman has the experience to come back into the side.
He displayed a great temperament in his first stint in the team alongside Cook in last winter’s Ashes, notching two 50 run scores.
The 31-year-old was dropped by the national selectors following the first Test against Pakistan earlier this year.
However, with Jennings unable to convert his promise into runs against India, Stoneman could be a safe pair of hands.
Looking within the current ranks, we could see a shift in the order.
Keeping things in house and giving them a run of games against Sri Lanka and the West Indies could be the way to go.
Ali was moved to number 3 in the fourth and fifth Tests versus India with not much luck.
But Smith could revert back to Ali as an opener, a role he played against Pakistan a few years ago.
This would then mean Kent’s all-rounder Joe Denly could be drafted in at number three.
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