England look set to move Sheffield’s Joe Root back down to number six for this winter’s Ashes series in Australia.
Root opened the batting, alongside captain Alastair Cook, for all five Ashes tests in England earlier this summer, hitting 180 against the touring Australians at Lord’s.
However, Root and Cook made only one half-century partnership during the series, which England won 3-0.
And although there is no question that Sheffield Collegiate product Root will be in the England team for the first Test in Brisbane on November 21, he is expected to be used in the middle order with Hampshire’s Michael Carberry promoted to open.
Carberry hit a timely 78 against a Western Australia Chairmans XI in Perth last week; a game in which Ben Stokes and Gary Ballance, both contenders for that number six spot, both failed to impress.
Carberry then followed that up with a sackful of runs against Australia ‘A’ earlier this week and looks to have cemented his place at the top of the order.
Root is no stranger to the England middle order, having made his Test debut in India batting at number six before making his first century against New Zealand, and captain Cook said: “Joe is a fantastic player.
“I think anyone who saw his 180 at Lord’s and his hundred against New Zealand can see the class he has got.
“Being able to bat in any situation is one of his greatest strengths. But we haven’t decided on our batting line-up.
“We are unsure of pretty much two places and it’s exciting because everyone in the squad knows that.”
Root hit the headlines this week when Australian legend Shane Warne questioned whether he has the required technique to be a successful, Test match opening batsman.
But the 22-year-old hit back, admitting: “I don’t know why he said that.
“‘I don’t think Shane Warne’s ever said a nice thing about an England touring team, so it would be wrong of me to listen to everything he says.
“It’s great to open the batting for England, and batting in the top order is something I’ve done all my career and it’s really enjoyable.
“There were a few ups and downs last summer and I didn’t quite get the amount of runs I would have liked, especially after a big score at Lord’s. But I do think the Australians bowled pretty well with the new ball.”