The retirement of former England Test captain and opening batsman Alastair Cook from internationals has left plenty of speculation about how to replace him going forward.
As fifth on the all-time list of leading runscorers, Cook leaves some big shoes to fill in terms of experience and discipline at the crease. Many of the County Championship prospects in contention have played in the era where limited overs cricket is the norm and very different mental attributes are needed to play in Tests.
With England touring Sri Lanka before Christmas, then the West Indies in the New Year, there are opportunities for potential successors to lay claim to the spot as opener ahead a home Ashes series with Australia next summer. Here, we look at how potential candidates as Cook’s successor have fared this season…
Surrey skipper Rory Burns really led by example as the leading runscorer in their 2018 County Championship Division 1 winning side. The opener put 1359 runs on the board, notching four centuries and seven other scores of 50 or more across 22 innings in 14 matches. His County Championship average in this successful season was a superb 64.71.
Those exploits have earned left-hander Burns the chance of a possible England debut during their Tour of Sri Lanka during the three-Test series that follows the limited overs internationals in November. Indeed, Burns is given odds of 11/2 (Bet365) to be top batsman for England in the series, but, as you might expect, Joe Root is the clear favourite at odds of 2/1.
There will, of course, be no shortage of excellent batsman in the series, with Dimuth Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal given odds of 10/3 and 4/1 respectively to be top scorers for Sir Lanka.
Keep your eyes peeled for betting offers for UK market for what promises to be an intriguing series, summed up by the fact that both teams are odds against to take the win. Sri Lanka are slight favourites at 6/5, with Bet365 pricing the Tourists coming in at 13/8. The draw is widely available at 4/1.
South Africa born Jennings has hardly set the world alight during his dozen Test caps to date. With just one international century and another score over 50, his England average is 22.09 – less than half of erstwhile opening partner Cook.
A change of counties to Lancashire has seen Jennings in a better light. From 10 County Championship matches (and 16 innings) played this past season, he scored over 700 runs and posted an average of 47.27. That higher mean is something Jennings needs to transfer over to his international cricket going forward if he is to stake a serious claim to Cook’s mantle. At 5/1 (Bet365), Jennings is priced a little lower than Burns to be top batsman during the Sri Lanka vs England Series.
England wicketkeeper Baristow has opened for both Yorkshire and his country in limited overs matches, so trialling him at the top of the Test batting order remains an option that skipper Joe Root and coach Trevor Bayliss can consider.
As a regular in the national setup, County Championship appearances for the White Rose are few and far between for Bairstow, yet he still managed to post the 12th highest batting average in the competition this past season. Despite just figuring in three matches (six innings) for Yorkshire, he scored 263 runs at a mean of 43.83 and notch three half-centuries.
Bairstow already boasts over 3,500 Test runs for England at an average of 37.19, including five centuries and 19 knocks of 50 plus. When you consider he is in the national side to keep wicket and take catches behind, this sizeable contribution with the bat is commendable. Indeed, Bairstow comes in at a price of 7/1 to be top batsman for England in Sri Lanka.