There is a sense emerging amongst pundits and supporters alike, that England may be filling the long-standing hole at the top of their order.
Not since the days of Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss have England had an opening pair that could be expected to survive the opening salvos of an innings. However, in Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley, that expectation is starting to feel merited. What’s more, the stats support it too.
Beyond runs scored, the criteria against which opening batsmen are measured is their ability to withstand the game’s most challenging batting conditions without being dismissed. Almost all of the game’s eminent Test openers have therefore been blessed with stoicism besides batting skill; those to have partnered Cook since the retirement of Strauss, have been wanting for either one or both of those essential attributes. Not so with Burns and Sibley. Per innings, Sibley faces on average 99.72 deliveries and scores 37.45 runs; for every knock Burns plays, he sees off 76 balls and scores 33.90 runs.
Those numbers should assure England supporters that their optimism regarding the new axis isn’t misplaced. Indeed, not one of the openers to partner Cook post-Strauss averages as many runs or balls per innings as the incumbents do.
Cook and Strauss’ 30 partnerships of 50 plus is still a way off for Sibley and Burns; England have been 50-0 four times in the seven tests the current openers have played together.
A brief glance at the average partnerships of England openers reveals Sibley and Burns put on only 0.11 runs per innings fewer than the heralded Cook and Strauss (40.85 compared to 40.96). Adding additional weight to the notion that England’s current pairing have a bright future. Comparing England’s openers’ average with that of other openers from around the world in the last year, Burns and Sibley trail the likes of Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma (69.19), David Warner and Joe Burns (65.37) and New Zealand’s Tom Blundell and Tom Latham (47.14)
Curiously, Compton and Cook have the highest partnership average of the last 14 years for England – 57.93.