England v India, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 2nd day August 16, 2014

Do England stick or twist with Robson?

A number of holes in England's Test team have been filled, but the second opening slot has not been nailed down. A tricky decision will need to be made with an Ashes looming next year
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Who will open the batting for England in the Ashes next year?

The series may seem distant but, with England currently playing their last Test of 2014, time is running out to establish a settled line-up. They now have only three Tests against West Indies, in a series starting in April, and two Tests against New Zealand, before the Ashes begins.

While the middle-order now appears relatively settled, Moeen Ali has taken the spinner's role and a batch of seamers - the likes of Liam Plunkett, Chris Jordan, Chris Woakes and Steven Finn - have been identified to support Stuart Broad and James Anderson, England are yet to find a secure opening partnership.

Sam Robson and Alastair Cook contributed England's highest opening partnership of 2014 in the first innings of the final Test of the Investec series, but it was a stand of only 66. Only for the ninth-wicket do England have a lower highest stand figure this year and not since March 2013, when Cook and Nick Compton made 231 together in Dunedin, have England enjoyed a century opening stand.

Even if doubts remain over Cook's form - his 79 on the second day of the final Investec Test was far from convincing as he was dropped twice - his position now seems secure again so we look at the contenders to open alongside the England captain.

Sam Robson
England have to decide to stick or twist with Robson. Seven Tests - six-and-a-half, really - into his career, he has demonstrated some decent characteristics - he scored a fine century at Headingley and has impressed the management with his attitude on and off the pitch - but has failed to cement his position with an average of 30.54. Of most concern, he has looked particularly susceptible to deliveries on or just outside off stump, which is an area sure to be exploited by the Australian and South African attacks. England's problem the gap until the Caribbean and, at that stage, they may consider it too late to change such an important position just before the Ashes series starts. The Lions have a tour to South Africa in the New Year and that may offer a last chance to persuade the selectors to retain faith.

Michael Carberry
Carberry might have every right to consider himself unfortunate. Australia was a harsh test against a ferocious attack on quick pitches and, though Carberry certainly did not excel - he managed one half-century in 10 innings and averaged 28.10 - nor did he capitulate. He faced more balls than anyone and impressed with his bravery and determination. Some thought he had done enough to earn an opportunity against the somewhat less fearsome attacks England have faced this summer. But Carberry will be 34 at the end of September and, after a modest season in Division Two Championship cricket (he is averaging 37.88), a recall seems unlikely.

Adam Lyth
A 26-year-old left-handed opener, Lyth has long been thought of as a talented player - he represented England U-19 and the Lions in 2011 - but has sometimes appeared to lack the concentration required to make the most of his talent; many a bright start has been ended by a nick to the slips. But he has enjoyed a fine season for Yorkshire in 2014 - he has scored over 1,000 Championship runs at an average of 56.44 - and, with a more aggressive temperament and wider range of strokes, could offer England a more positive start at the top of the order than either Robson or Cook can manage. It would be asking a huge amount for him to start his Test career against Australia, so if England want him, he should be selected for the Caribbean tour.

Joe Root
Root made an elegant 180 as opening batsman in the Lord's Test during the 2013 Ashes and averaged a respectable 37.66 in five Tests in that position. Such moments of success were fleeting, however, and there were several occasions when he seemed troubled by the extra bounce of the new ball. He has delivered much more consistently since he was moved back into the middle-order. He had made 720 runs in seven Tests this summer, rebuilding the innings where required and accelerating when appropriate, and is averaging exactly 90. Still aged only 23, it may well be that a time comes when Root moved back up to the top of the order but, much like Gary Ballance, it might well be considered weakening a strength to promote him now.

Nick Compton
The decision to drop Compton remains one of the mysteries of English cricket. Having appeared to establish himself with back-to-back centuries in New Zealand, he was left out of the side ahead of the Ashes after failing to reach 20 in the next three Tests. While he has managed only one century in this summer's County Championship, he has been out in the 90s three times and remains as good a player of fast bowling and as hard to dismiss as anyone in the English game. Aged 31 and with a first-class average of 43.82, he continues to make a case for selection, though the sense remains that some in the England management simply did not like him and will not countenance his return.

Varun Chopra
Chopra, a former England U-19 captain who scored a century on first-class debut in 2006, worked his way to the brink of the England side with strong and consistent performances. But after becoming the only Warwickshire batsman to score 1,000 first-class runs in 2011, 2012 and 2013, he has endured a pretty dismal 2014 Championship season in which he has failed to score a century and is averaging only 21.50. It may prove a bad time to have lost form.

Gary Ballance
As a young man, Ballance opened the batting at every level. He eventually found his opportunity at Yorkshire in the middle-order but the success he has made of the No.3 position this summer (he has averaged 70.40 in the seven Tests since he was promoted) suggests he probably has what it takes to move up another position. Whether that is desirable, though - finding a replacement to Jonathan Trott at No. 3 was thought likely to prove difficult and it might prove unwise to weaken a strength - remains highly debatable.

Alex Hales
A season that started with Hales unable to command a place in Nottinghamshire's Championship side is ending with the 25-year-old making a strong case for inclusion in the England side in all formats. He struggled horribly in 2013 averaging just 13.94 as he allowed his focus to drift towards the T20 format in which he has enjoyed such success. A fringe player in April, he has forced his way back into the county side and is currently averaging 49.73 in the top division of the Championship. And, if an unease against the short ball remains - at six feet five inches, Hales struggles to get out of the way of well-directed bouncers - he now looks far more secure outside off stump. Certain to be named in England's ODI side in the coming days, Hales will be given an opportunity to demonstrate his qualities in that format with a view to making a decision about the Caribbean tour next year. It might not be an ideal way to learn about a player's potential for Test cricket, but the management hope they can gauge Hales' commitment - he has sometimes suffered, perhaps unfairly, for a reputation as somewhat relaxed - as well as taking a closer look at his technique.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on August 21, 2014, 19:47 GMT

    what abt morgan?

  • Patchmaster on August 18, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    Surely it has to be Lyth ? But in an ideal World, they'd drop Bell, bring in Lyth and drop robson and bring in Hales. That would be a much better line up for ENG

  • __PK on August 18, 2014, 5:11 GMT

    I bet they drop Robson and move everyone up a slot, thereby turning one weak batting position into six.

  • on August 18, 2014, 1:18 GMT

    Bring back Nick Compton !

  • Chris_P on August 17, 2014, 22:07 GMT

    Although he hasn't been a success, nor has been an abject failure either. With England's recent resurgence, IMHO, he should be persevered with given he is going back to county cricket, can refine his issues with probably the best person to guide him batting at the other end with. His captain @ inspirational mentor Chris Rogers. After all, he did perfrm to get selected in the first place.

  • anton1234 on August 17, 2014, 15:56 GMT

    Simple really. Promote Ballance or Root to open with Cook and bring Pietersen in to fill the place vacated by Robson. Pietersen is too good a player to not be in the England team and I firmly believe he needs to be in the team for England to have any chance against Australia come next summer. Do not be fooled by the performance against India. At the start of the series I was expecting a whitewash, despite England's recent troubles. India simply does not know how to play away from home. The only thing the management has to make sure is that Pietersen is not allowed to stray out of line. If Pietersen is not in the team and Mitchell Johnson maintains his form since the comeback, I expect a 5-0 whitewash in favour of the Aussies but with Pietersen in it, I still expect the Aussies to win but somewhat more of a contest.

  • Youcannotbowlshorttoadamgilchrist on August 17, 2014, 14:58 GMT

    Very interested to see Alex Hales described as 'somewhat relaxed' in this article. When asking for his autograph after the Lions match on August 8, I asked him to add '666' to it. He seemed puzzled and asked why, to which I replied, 'Because you're the next Test player!' to which he responded, "I wish!" He seemed genuinely surprised I had brought this up and was not being falsely modest. This was refreshing but also illuminated his laidback character. Not sure there are grounds to question his commitment but he could do with someone whose opinion he respects telling him how good he is!

  • milepost on August 17, 2014, 14:50 GMT

    Just pick the player on best form, send them on the lions tours. Age isn't important and neither is whether the management like a player. KP in and Bell to open with Cook (though he is still under question) looks good. Carberry and Compton are good players. Doesn't really matter though we are going to smash England in the Ashes without breaking a sweat.

  • on August 17, 2014, 14:46 GMT

    None of the batsmen, as we saw on the verdict, since the retirement of Strauss have done anything worth talking about in eleven or more innings, even Cook in his last 11, apart from a 95 and a 70* , has been sub standard

    It appears that Compton is not liked because he speaks his mind-like KP did- and England management want followers, not leaders, so those who keep quite and obey the head boy, get selected over and above talent.

    Mark Butcher pointed out that Robson's technique is wrong, and they have persevered with this, due to England winning, but it has been a mistake. They need to find another opener , be it Carrbery ,or Compton [whom they won't consider] but to stick with Robson is wrong.

    Perhaps move Ballance up to open, and find another #3, as moving Bell or Root would deprive England of middle order success, given that at #6 they are still left wanting with Ali

  • MariusPontmercy94 on August 17, 2014, 14:02 GMT

    Carberry. He's a decent enough batsman, arguably their best fielder, and Aus has shown that another experienced head at the top of the order doesn't hurt (Rogers). If they're not gonna play him, then go for either Compton, or Hales if the ECB decides that Compton has done too well at first class level to get a Test recall. Both are more attacking batsmen to compliment Cook's habit of anchoring a Test innings. Not sure about playing Hales at Test level, but hey, Aus tried it with Maxwell.

  • on August 21, 2014, 19:47 GMT

    what abt morgan?

  • Patchmaster on August 18, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    Surely it has to be Lyth ? But in an ideal World, they'd drop Bell, bring in Lyth and drop robson and bring in Hales. That would be a much better line up for ENG

  • __PK on August 18, 2014, 5:11 GMT

    I bet they drop Robson and move everyone up a slot, thereby turning one weak batting position into six.

  • on August 18, 2014, 1:18 GMT

    Bring back Nick Compton !

  • Chris_P on August 17, 2014, 22:07 GMT

    Although he hasn't been a success, nor has been an abject failure either. With England's recent resurgence, IMHO, he should be persevered with given he is going back to county cricket, can refine his issues with probably the best person to guide him batting at the other end with. His captain @ inspirational mentor Chris Rogers. After all, he did perfrm to get selected in the first place.

  • anton1234 on August 17, 2014, 15:56 GMT

    Simple really. Promote Ballance or Root to open with Cook and bring Pietersen in to fill the place vacated by Robson. Pietersen is too good a player to not be in the England team and I firmly believe he needs to be in the team for England to have any chance against Australia come next summer. Do not be fooled by the performance against India. At the start of the series I was expecting a whitewash, despite England's recent troubles. India simply does not know how to play away from home. The only thing the management has to make sure is that Pietersen is not allowed to stray out of line. If Pietersen is not in the team and Mitchell Johnson maintains his form since the comeback, I expect a 5-0 whitewash in favour of the Aussies but with Pietersen in it, I still expect the Aussies to win but somewhat more of a contest.

  • Youcannotbowlshorttoadamgilchrist on August 17, 2014, 14:58 GMT

    Very interested to see Alex Hales described as 'somewhat relaxed' in this article. When asking for his autograph after the Lions match on August 8, I asked him to add '666' to it. He seemed puzzled and asked why, to which I replied, 'Because you're the next Test player!' to which he responded, "I wish!" He seemed genuinely surprised I had brought this up and was not being falsely modest. This was refreshing but also illuminated his laidback character. Not sure there are grounds to question his commitment but he could do with someone whose opinion he respects telling him how good he is!

  • milepost on August 17, 2014, 14:50 GMT

    Just pick the player on best form, send them on the lions tours. Age isn't important and neither is whether the management like a player. KP in and Bell to open with Cook (though he is still under question) looks good. Carberry and Compton are good players. Doesn't really matter though we are going to smash England in the Ashes without breaking a sweat.

  • on August 17, 2014, 14:46 GMT

    None of the batsmen, as we saw on the verdict, since the retirement of Strauss have done anything worth talking about in eleven or more innings, even Cook in his last 11, apart from a 95 and a 70* , has been sub standard

    It appears that Compton is not liked because he speaks his mind-like KP did- and England management want followers, not leaders, so those who keep quite and obey the head boy, get selected over and above talent.

    Mark Butcher pointed out that Robson's technique is wrong, and they have persevered with this, due to England winning, but it has been a mistake. They need to find another opener , be it Carrbery ,or Compton [whom they won't consider] but to stick with Robson is wrong.

    Perhaps move Ballance up to open, and find another #3, as moving Bell or Root would deprive England of middle order success, given that at #6 they are still left wanting with Ali

  • MariusPontmercy94 on August 17, 2014, 14:02 GMT

    Carberry. He's a decent enough batsman, arguably their best fielder, and Aus has shown that another experienced head at the top of the order doesn't hurt (Rogers). If they're not gonna play him, then go for either Compton, or Hales if the ECB decides that Compton has done too well at first class level to get a Test recall. Both are more attacking batsmen to compliment Cook's habit of anchoring a Test innings. Not sure about playing Hales at Test level, but hey, Aus tried it with Maxwell.

  • Beertjie on August 17, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    I'm no England fan and I partly agree with you @SpaMaster on (August 16, 2014, 19:50 GMT) but looking at England's future, say, post-Ashes - the tour to South Africa - they should pick Root as opener and possible successor to Cook. Although they currently lack a quality spinner, this is an area of relative weakness of their future opponents (despite Piedt's promising debut). Therefore, to maximize their current strengths and with an eye to the future, get Root in there facing the music now (instead of leaving him to shepherd a decent tail). James Taylor looks a good player of pace and with someone at 6 trying to blunt the pace attacks, the likes of Buttler and Stokes/Woakes give England a competitive look. Braver might be to find a spinner who turns it away from the right handers and produce turners if possible. Just some thoughts to make the old enemy more competitive!

  • on August 17, 2014, 12:32 GMT

    Lyth's Yorkshire opening partner Alex Lees is also worth a mention. But I'd go back to Compton or Carberry. Ideally we'd have a more attacking option, Cook/Compton may get too bogged down. Hales is an option but I'd let him concentrate on the one day formats. So give Carberry licence to play positive against WI/NZ.

  • nlight on August 17, 2014, 12:24 GMT

    It would be unwise to stick with Robson when he has had such a poor showing against the disappointing Indian attack. Carberry deserves another chance at some point and should be in the squad for Windies. However, assuming Hales acquits himself well in ODIs, then he represents the more adventurous option. We've seen how well Buttler has changed up, despite protests from the old guard that he didn't have enough red ball cricket under his belt. It would be great to have a more attacking option in place for the Ashes to counter Australia's obvious strengths in this area. I think previous success at international level is more important than the characteristics of the ball.

  • PeerieTrow on August 17, 2014, 12:02 GMT

    Due to Robson's essentially fleeting presence at the start of the England innings, Cook and Ballance have effectively been performing as the opening partnership to blunt the new ball. If Trott is 'sorted' by April, I would suggest that the top three in the Caribbean should be Cook, Ballance and Trott. Having said that, I would love to see Carbs there but I doubt it's going to happen.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 17, 2014, 11:05 GMT

    @AhaanSM (post on August 17, 2014, 6:26 GMT): Trott is not even an opener anyway, but I like him and miss him at 3/4.

    @MarkTaffin (post on August 17, 2014, 10:16 GMT): People seem to forget/ignore that Warner averages only 26 outside of bouncy Australian/South African conditions. Against the swinging/moving ball, attacking openers are all at sea. Unless England are prepared to use a horses for courses selection, I see no benefit in picking a player who is destined to only succeed in a few games.

    I still don't understand why Compton was ever dropped, and he would be my first choice. With guys like Balance, Bell, Root and now Buttler in the side who can all put the foot on the gas when games allow, who cares if the openers are slow and steady? Wearing down bowlers by hanging in there is just as productive in test cricket as swinging at everything.

    Anybody notice England have no frontline spinners?

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on August 17, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    Its almost amusing to see journalists fretting about a series that's nearly a year away. There are two series and five tests to be played in-between- surely enough to try another opener if need be!

  • on August 17, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    Carberry. A 28 average in a series where Cook, Bell, KP, Trott all flopped and succumbed to Mitch, that too, as an opener is not bad. He might have plundered a hundred or two at home against this Indian attack. 3/4/5 as Balance Bell Root is too well set, Buttler looks like he could be 6 if needed.

  • Charlie101 on August 17, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    @fishface / Michael House I totally agree that there was a changing room problem with Compton and I would hope that with the inclusion of a number of new faces in the team a resolution could be found.

    If Compton not possible then I feel they have to try Alex Hales in the West Indies and if that does not work then the fall back position will have to be Carberry for the Ashes . Poor Carbs he will only get a chance with the ball whistling past his ears !!!

  • neil99 on August 17, 2014, 10:27 GMT

    Get rid of Bell instead and draft in new blood. After performing well in 2 games (he needed to save his career again after all) Bell's back to the usual poor standard we've witnessed in the vast majority of the 12 series. Root and Ballance have invigorated the batting line up and we don't need stale, overhyped and under performing players who are living on 2 years good play in a near 10 year career.

  • hughmorris227 on August 17, 2014, 10:19 GMT

    James Vince,the name on nearly everybody's lips at the beginning of the season,isn't even mentioned..why?

  • MarkTaffin on August 17, 2014, 10:16 GMT

    The only logic behind the selection of Hales seems to be, "well, it worked for Warner"?????

    Vaughan has decided now the only way to take on the best bowlers is to try smash 'em about?????

  • on August 17, 2014, 9:39 GMT

    Against high pace and unyielding Australians, Compton is the obvious choice. Then maybe we will get back to century opening stands again. The management should either pick him or give a frank explanantion of why his face doesn't fit or whose toes he has trodden on. England teams should be picked on talent and character, not the buddy system.

  • cloudmess on August 17, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    I'd give Alex Hales a shot - England need a foil for Cook. If Hales can smash around international attacks at T20 level he has the potential, like David Warner did before him, to transfer that to the longer game.

  • VillageBlacksmith on August 17, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    Lyth for Robson and Taylor for Bell…. Robson just not good enough… Bell has had a totally dismal last 12 months with one lucky ton (when DRS would have given him out for 0) and as a senior player bell has offered ZERO assistance to Cook or Eng during this current rebuilding phase.. The new guys are doing well, time to add another new guy at No 4…

  • fishface1971 on August 17, 2014, 7:54 GMT

    Blatantly obvious that Compton was dropped for non-cricketing reasons. He is not everyone's cup of tea but is extremely tough to get out. Robson will be exposed by Australia.

  • KiwiPom on August 17, 2014, 7:34 GMT

    Trouble with promoting a middle order player is that you risk weakening two positions rather than just one. Don't go there. The player I most feel sorry for is Michael Carberry. No question about his temperament for test cricket but he simply is not talented enough. What a pity you couldn't graft his temperament on to Hales' ability.

  • Nutcutlet on August 17, 2014, 7:17 GMT

    @AhaanSM (August 17, 2014, 6:26 GMT): a most unwise suggestion, if you don't mind my saying so. JT's manner of leaving of the Test arena at Brisbane was utterly traumatic and, so far as I know, unprecedented in the history of Test cricket. To ask Trott to step up once more to the England side is in no one's thinking and rightly so. He's most unlikely to play for England again, because any flashback experience cannot be risked. As the poet, GM Hopkins, memorably wrote:' the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall/ Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap/ May [the person] who ne[v]er hung there.' There is no reason whatsoever to ask Jonathan Trott to walk along his mental cliff again. It would be a most irresponsible and dangerous request. As to the matter at hand, I'm with Michael Vaughan on this one: go for the attacking option. That's Alex Hales, who has aleady handled the international stage with great success. I do feel sorry for Carbs though. He's been poorly treated.

  • KingKallis on August 17, 2014, 7:09 GMT

    Nick Compton was a decent player and did really well with Ali Cook. Failure in just 3 games does not mean you DROP a player who has scored 2 hundreds in his first 6 test matches.

  • notimeforcricket on August 17, 2014, 6:38 GMT

    I would certainly not mess around with Ballance, Bell, Root. Moeen's bowling has obviously been good but there is a chance Australia will hit him out of the attack and his batting does not seem tight enough. England may be forced to play him as a bowling allrounder, batting at 8 if he cannot perform at 6, assuming his bowling keeps improving, which places a heavy load on 3 seamers, which was a big problem last time. if you can squeeze 4 seamers (or somehow 5 bowlers) into the attack in Australia it is a big plus. I would probably stick with Robson. he seems to be a worker and will doubtless work hard over the Winter. Means for Aust, you have the current 11 + Lyth, 1 of the keepers (either take an old stager (Foster/Read) for safety or a Kieswetter/Bairstow type, a spair spinner (Panesar/Kerrigan or the young offy from kent), Stokes, Plunkett, Finn.

  • AhaanSM on August 17, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    What about Jonathan Trott? He is back to Domestic Cricket and doing decently well. I would certainly go for him.

  • notimeforcricket on August 17, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    the reports I heard were that Compton did not want to work with Gooch and was happier with his own coach. Even though Gooch is gone, Cook is understably loyal to him so this may kill of Compton's chances. You could pretty much pick the Yorkshire top order and slot Bell in somewhere! Robson has not been that bad. A debut season averaging 30 in tests is OK, but realistically Carberry's performance against a much stronger attack was probably better. Lees or Lyth seem good options. the argument that one more positive opener to compliment cook is a fair one but people forget that Robson played his way into the team through sheer weight of runs. Many players come into the test team and have technical weaknesses exposed. who is to say that the same thing would not happen with one of the others. best option, take Lees/Lyth/Hales etc for the 1 day stuff (possibly even leave Cook behind). Let Robson go with the Lions to SA and see how everyone is doing at that point

  • Greatest_Game on August 17, 2014, 5:54 GMT

    @ Shivani Singhania commented "Alex Lees should be replace Robson very soon.. he is advanced version of Cook."

    What? Also horribly out of form, nicking to the slips and surviving on bad fielding & generous umpiring? Sounds very English - excellent choice!

  • on August 17, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    Robson should never have been picked in the first place. Every County analyst has identified his weakness outside the off stump and tactics have been devised accordingly. And of course he is an Australian. That will go down well with his fellow Australians if e is still in the team come the Ashes. The best option is to drop him now and bring in either Lees or Lyth. Why disturb an established middle order that is performing well

  • on August 17, 2014, 4:48 GMT

    Daryl Mitchell anyone? The man is in terrific form and is not intimidated by quicks.

  • on August 17, 2014, 4:11 GMT

    yes Lyth is a good choice

  • on August 17, 2014, 3:50 GMT

    Alex Lees should be replace Robson very soon.. he is advanced version of Cook.

  • on August 17, 2014, 3:29 GMT

    Lyth should replace Robson, let him go back to CC and work out his issues.

  • jmcilhinney on August 17, 2014, 3:20 GMT

    There are those who think Ballance looks out of place even at #3, most notably Ian Chappell. That doesn't necessarily mean that he's not suited to it - his success so far suggests that he is - but moving up to open is another thing altogether. If they were going to move someone then I'd choose Root. He is an opener by trade and, although his last stint as an opener wasn't a success, he's had time to think and work on his issues and may do better the second time around. If they do move anyone up, I'd hope that James Taylor was the man to come in. I'd tend to stick with Robson though. He has age on his side and time to work on his game between now and England's next Test series. He has a good county record so there's not necessarily any reason to believe that anyone else with a similar county record will do better. Many players struggle early in their career. If England believe he has the temperament, which seems to have been an issue with Compton, then they should persevere for now.

  • Sexysteven on August 17, 2014, 2:24 GMT

    Got to find amore aggressive opener to compliment Cook robson not up to he's had 7 or so tests now for me hales Vince lyth or lees are the options no point going back to the past as England do often one of those four would be ideal for me to partner Cook no point in waiting to the ashes if your going to change the opener might as well give who ever comes in achance against easier opposition first

  • on August 17, 2014, 2:15 GMT

    No mention whatsoever of Lees?

  • Ozcricketwriter on August 17, 2014, 1:29 GMT

    So it is a choice of Robson, Compton and Carberry or to go with an established middle order batsman (Root or Ballance), hoping that they will do well opening, and then find another middle order batsman. Presuming that England have a decent middle order batsman in the wings, that seems to me like a good option. Root did pretty well opening in test cricket before and I think he could handle the move back up to the top of the order. But who are the middle order options? Hopefully they are genuine batsmen and not bits and pieces all-rounders.

  • dunger.bob on August 16, 2014, 23:56 GMT

    Stick with Robson, please.

  • on August 16, 2014, 23:53 GMT

    Varun Chopra is the man who shud be in to replace Robson

  • landl47 on August 16, 2014, 23:22 GMT

    Stick with Robson. He's a young player finding his way in test cricket and needs patience. Bringing back over-30 players is almost always futile and almost invariably short-term (yes, I know Mike Hussey and Chris Rogers succeeded, but they had FC averages over 50). Chopra has had a terrible season. Lyth has had a good season, but he's a career journeyman. Hales is a short-format player.

    Do not, under any circumstances, move Ballance and Root from the positions in which they've done so well. That would turn one problem into two problems.

    The long-term solution might well be Alex Lees, Lyth's partner in the Yorkshire line-up. He looks to be a future star, but he's only just 21 and needs more time to develop consistency.

    @Starvybz: if Amla, ABD and Steyn get injured, SA are toast. If Clarke, Warner and Johnson get injured.... get the picture?

  • on August 16, 2014, 22:35 GMT

    Absolute rubbish by England! They need to have a solid opening combination Alastair Cook is obviously going to be there at least for the next five years so no worries about him. Cook needs to be partnered well I don't see why they had to get rid of Nick Compton because that they have so many problems with finding an opener. Unbelieveable he scored consecutive tons overseas in New Zealand and he scored well in India too but one home series where he scored around only fifty runs should end someone's career. He's been in good touch for Somerset too he really worth considering. On the case of Michael Carrberry he has plenty of experience he's proved what he's worth with a ton against Australia A in Hobart his first game at th

  • ruester on August 16, 2014, 21:36 GMT

    Yorkshire 86 give Moeen a bit more credit for getting players out. Sangakarra isn't in to bad form is he?

  • Jaffa79 on August 16, 2014, 21:07 GMT

    Robson is nowhere near good enough. Carberry is very unlucky not to be given another chance; to go and stand up to Johnson and then get discarded was harsh. Hales cannot be considered yet but should definitely get in the ODI side, Root should stay in the middle order, Ballance is fine where he is too and Compton seems just too intense on the pitch and seemingly off the pitch. I'd give Lyth a go as he seems to be the best we currently have. My Test side is: Cook, Lyth, Ballance, Bell, Root, Ali, Buttler, Stokes, Broad, Anderson, Finn. I think it'd be an idea to blood Lyth in the Windies. I'd also take Kerrigan as well as he needs to have another crack to see if he cuts the mustard and I'd also rest Broad and Jimmy from that series completely.

  • ballsintherightareas on August 16, 2014, 21:03 GMT

    Promoting Ballance to open would enable James Taylor to come in to the middle order. Sounds good to me.

  • glen1 on August 16, 2014, 20:50 GMT

    Just before the start of the series, most avid cricket fans commented that India will help Cook & Bell come back to form, help England develop a spinner for the Ashes, win the series convincingly, and stop worrying about the Lanka loss. Those were easy comments to make, but suffering through this series has been a misery. The only ones unaffected are the players led by Dhoni, for whom it seems that the journey is all that is important, not the destination. Only Australia and SA can test this English team to know if it is good or not.

  • on August 16, 2014, 20:49 GMT

    nick Compton should come back. He provides the sort of stability that England needs. He should definitely come back in to the side

  • on August 16, 2014, 20:41 GMT

    I keep singing this in every thread... but... Promote Root to open and play James Taylor at number 5. Both are potential future England captains. It's a mystery why Taylor was discarded.

  • Balladeer on August 16, 2014, 20:32 GMT

    SpaMaster, you make some good points but you take them too far. "Root struggled a fair bit against Australia"? So has and will every test team in the world. "They still lack a quality spinner"? What more can the spinner do than take the wickets in front of him, which he's done splendidly? A six-fer is impressive even against Bangladesh. And trying to paint Ballance as a negative is ridiculous.

    None but the most optimistic of England fans would say that all the problems in the side have been fixed, but your comment seems like that of someone with an agenda rather than a balanced assessment.

  • CricketingStargazer on August 16, 2014, 20:28 GMT

    Personally, I hope that the selectors keep faith with Sam Robson, but suspect that the pressure to elevate Alex Hales will become absolutely irresistible.

    However, after what happened to Nick Compton and, to a lesser degree, Michael Carberry, anything is possible.

    Good to see that the predictable rubbishing of England's series win has started. To an extent, it is even healthy. We do not know how good the side's performances have been really because India have been so awful since the second innings at the Ageas Bowl.

  • Starvybz on August 16, 2014, 20:25 GMT

    england's problem is that they drop too many talented players quickly look how long cook has been out of form and finally he got it together, Robson needs time. and this england test squad is being portrayed as strong though in reality they are far from okay and those holes in the squad are far from being fixed. What if broad,anderson and root get injured. Hence you have a squad that wont even challenge zimbabwe.

  • yorkshire-86 on August 16, 2014, 20:22 GMT

    The biggest problem is not Robson, but Ali. He looked like he has no technique whatsoever with the bat, and with the ball he was an embarrassment in the first two tests, and bowling out a few hopelessly out of form batsmen and tail enders in the next two does not make up for that

  • elsmallo on August 16, 2014, 20:18 GMT

    Compton. Compton. Compton. I want to see him score a scratchy 37 against Johnson, spending over three hours at the crease, as the rest of England's showpiece batsmen leave the field bloodied and traumatized.

  • on August 16, 2014, 20:17 GMT

    Sam Robson only went to England because he couldn't get a gig in the NSW team behind Watson, Hughes, Khawaja, Jaques, Clarke, Smith (t the time and had the fortune to have an English mother. He still wouldn't be in the best NSW team behind Warner, Watson, Clarke, Smith, Maddinson, Henriques and co and in Sydney Grade Cricket wasn't to the standard of up and comers like Kurtis Patterson and Jake Doran. England must find home grown talent to fill all gaps in their side. It will be interesting to see how Balance goes against Johnson and Harris.

  • Balladeer on August 16, 2014, 19:51 GMT

    It may seem harsh to the young man to drop him so soon, but we have to face facts (as does he): this Indian attack has been largely fairly weak, and where every other batsman in the top five (Ali is another issue) has cashed in to a greater or lesser extent this series, Sam has kept getting out in silly ways. The Australian, New Zealand, and even West Indian attacks are much better than this Indian one. He is still young, and should go back to Middlesex to try to fix his problems and hone his craft; like Finn a while ago, the selectors should not write him off in future yet.

    In the meantime, Lyth is my favoured choice, with two easier series to test him before the thunder is brought in July, and an eye being kept on Hales' first class form. If neither is deemed "up to it", then... what exactly DID go wrong with Compton anyway?

  • SpaMaster on August 16, 2014, 19:50 GMT

    Oh please, Robson is not the only problem with England. The fact that the Indian batting has been totally out of sorts is masking a lot of the England's problems. This Indian team is in a very bad shape, mainly because of the failure of the promising but stuttering Indian batting line-up. You can't fool yourself that by beating such a self-destroying side that you have solved many of your problems. Cook is still very tentative. He got one life each in his previous two fifties and during this fifty I think he got three lives. Balance is not a sure-fire to succeed against a top-quality attack. Bell has still been on and off. Less said about Moeen Ali's batting the better. Root struggled a fair bit against Australia. The England line up as a whole has a weakness against short-pitch bowling. They still lack a quality spinner. The back-up bowlers to Anderson and Broad may not find a place in many national teams. England just lost a home series against Sri Lanka.

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  • SpaMaster on August 16, 2014, 19:50 GMT

    Oh please, Robson is not the only problem with England. The fact that the Indian batting has been totally out of sorts is masking a lot of the England's problems. This Indian team is in a very bad shape, mainly because of the failure of the promising but stuttering Indian batting line-up. You can't fool yourself that by beating such a self-destroying side that you have solved many of your problems. Cook is still very tentative. He got one life each in his previous two fifties and during this fifty I think he got three lives. Balance is not a sure-fire to succeed against a top-quality attack. Bell has still been on and off. Less said about Moeen Ali's batting the better. Root struggled a fair bit against Australia. The England line up as a whole has a weakness against short-pitch bowling. They still lack a quality spinner. The back-up bowlers to Anderson and Broad may not find a place in many national teams. England just lost a home series against Sri Lanka.

  • Balladeer on August 16, 2014, 19:51 GMT

    It may seem harsh to the young man to drop him so soon, but we have to face facts (as does he): this Indian attack has been largely fairly weak, and where every other batsman in the top five (Ali is another issue) has cashed in to a greater or lesser extent this series, Sam has kept getting out in silly ways. The Australian, New Zealand, and even West Indian attacks are much better than this Indian one. He is still young, and should go back to Middlesex to try to fix his problems and hone his craft; like Finn a while ago, the selectors should not write him off in future yet.

    In the meantime, Lyth is my favoured choice, with two easier series to test him before the thunder is brought in July, and an eye being kept on Hales' first class form. If neither is deemed "up to it", then... what exactly DID go wrong with Compton anyway?

  • on August 16, 2014, 20:17 GMT

    Sam Robson only went to England because he couldn't get a gig in the NSW team behind Watson, Hughes, Khawaja, Jaques, Clarke, Smith (t the time and had the fortune to have an English mother. He still wouldn't be in the best NSW team behind Warner, Watson, Clarke, Smith, Maddinson, Henriques and co and in Sydney Grade Cricket wasn't to the standard of up and comers like Kurtis Patterson and Jake Doran. England must find home grown talent to fill all gaps in their side. It will be interesting to see how Balance goes against Johnson and Harris.

  • elsmallo on August 16, 2014, 20:18 GMT

    Compton. Compton. Compton. I want to see him score a scratchy 37 against Johnson, spending over three hours at the crease, as the rest of England's showpiece batsmen leave the field bloodied and traumatized.

  • yorkshire-86 on August 16, 2014, 20:22 GMT

    The biggest problem is not Robson, but Ali. He looked like he has no technique whatsoever with the bat, and with the ball he was an embarrassment in the first two tests, and bowling out a few hopelessly out of form batsmen and tail enders in the next two does not make up for that

  • Starvybz on August 16, 2014, 20:25 GMT

    england's problem is that they drop too many talented players quickly look how long cook has been out of form and finally he got it together, Robson needs time. and this england test squad is being portrayed as strong though in reality they are far from okay and those holes in the squad are far from being fixed. What if broad,anderson and root get injured. Hence you have a squad that wont even challenge zimbabwe.

  • CricketingStargazer on August 16, 2014, 20:28 GMT

    Personally, I hope that the selectors keep faith with Sam Robson, but suspect that the pressure to elevate Alex Hales will become absolutely irresistible.

    However, after what happened to Nick Compton and, to a lesser degree, Michael Carberry, anything is possible.

    Good to see that the predictable rubbishing of England's series win has started. To an extent, it is even healthy. We do not know how good the side's performances have been really because India have been so awful since the second innings at the Ageas Bowl.

  • Balladeer on August 16, 2014, 20:32 GMT

    SpaMaster, you make some good points but you take them too far. "Root struggled a fair bit against Australia"? So has and will every test team in the world. "They still lack a quality spinner"? What more can the spinner do than take the wickets in front of him, which he's done splendidly? A six-fer is impressive even against Bangladesh. And trying to paint Ballance as a negative is ridiculous.

    None but the most optimistic of England fans would say that all the problems in the side have been fixed, but your comment seems like that of someone with an agenda rather than a balanced assessment.

  • on August 16, 2014, 20:41 GMT

    I keep singing this in every thread... but... Promote Root to open and play James Taylor at number 5. Both are potential future England captains. It's a mystery why Taylor was discarded.

  • on August 16, 2014, 20:49 GMT

    nick Compton should come back. He provides the sort of stability that England needs. He should definitely come back in to the side