Should Smith move up to No. 3, like Root?

A productive batting order is not something that you arrive at by pulling names out of a hat or throwing darts at a board to decide each player's position. The ideal batting order is reached by the captain putting batsmen in the order that best suits their technique and style, as well as allocating them a slot where they feel comfortable. If a player's style and technique is suited to a certain slot but he's not comfortable batting there, then the captain has to produce his most convincing argument to achieve what is best for the team.

In the first Ashes Test both Joe Root and Steven Smith were capable of batting at No. 3. Both players have been reluctant to hold down that position but eventually Root decided it was best for the team if he batted there.

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What he did by batting at three at Edgbaston was effectively stabilise the England top order. His calm and proactive approach to batting finally ended England's long-running top-order collapses, where they typically slid to three down for less than fifty.

If Root stabilised the top order, it was Rory Burns who, like Smith the day before, provided the solid foundation for the innings. Burns is like Smith in that he is not pretty to watch and he's leg-side oriented, but he also displayed the same grit and determination to survive that Smith did.

Burns finally shed his inhibitions and overcame the twin failures against Ireland to play a substantial Test innings. The difference between Burns against Ireland and the player who opened against Australia was palpable and his solidarity allowed England to prosper on a day when runs were hard-earned.

The previous day Smith had performed a similar yet even more difficult task as he resurrected the innings by hauling his team from the depths of 122 for 8 to a respectable 284 all out.

Smith may no longer be captain but he has made it clear that his preference is to bat at four. He underlined his feelings by playing a great Test innings, which eventually blossomed into a dominant one. In employing his quirky, ugly-duckling (but highly successful) technique to amass more than half of Australia's team runs, he also amply displayed his grit and mental toughness. Smith is a highly successful international batsman because he understands his own game and sticks to his guns no matter what anyone else says about his style.

Before his 12-month ban it appeared that international bowlers were completely at a loss as how to dismiss him. On the evidence of Edgbaston, the opportunity to spend a year plotting his downfall hasn't led England to any meaningful conclusions.

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Like England so many times before, Australia were quickly 35 for 3 in their first innings. Might they be better off with Smith at three? Undoubtedly. It's far better to avoid early collapses by short-circuiting them quickly.

However, Tim Paine's problem is producing the convincing argument that will cause Smith to overcome his misgivings and follow Root's example. While Root will be disappointed that once again he didn't convert a solid start, at least his innings will have helped eradicate any negative thoughts he might have held about elevating himself in the order.

There is no doubt that both batting orders in this series are flawed, and facing very good bowlers with a Dukes ball in their hand is going to be an ongoing challenge. This suggests that runs are going to be at a premium throughout the series, and that moderate scores could well be the order of the day.

If that does occur then it's more than likely it will be a tight series that will be great for the fans but a strenuous test for the players. With that in mind, it could be crucial to get the batsmen in their right order to maximise the team's chances of victory. England, thanks to their captain, have taken the first step in the right direction.