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Race for Australia Ashes opening spot hots up

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

The competition to secure a berth at the top of Australia’s batting order for this year’s Ashes series got even tougher this week after a string of hugely impressive performances in the latest round of the Sheffield Shield by some of the main contenders.

Joe Burns and Marcus Harris are currently the men in possession, having opened in the last Test of the Australian summer against Sri Lanka in Canberra. While Harris didn’t manage to reach three figures in any of his six Tests in the side, he did top the Australia run-scoring charts in their series against India. Burns meanwhile scored 180 in the first innings of that Canberra Test and boasts an impressive record opening in Test cricket – 977 runs at an average of 40.70 with four centuries.

Harris pressed his Ashes claim even further scoring 95 and a match-winning 174 in Victoria’s chase of 304 against Queensland. On the opposition, Joe Burns continued his excellent form scoring 140 runs in the match.

Elsewhere, Cameron Bancroft made an extraordinary return to first-class cricket, nearly carrying his bat in both innings. He scored 224 of Western Australia’s 426 runs in the match, 52.58 per cent of their runs. Add David Warner to the mix – his ban ends in April – and Australia have four contenders who all have strong claims to be one of their two openers for this year’s Ashes.

Although it is possible they could field three opening batsmen with one batting at three, performances in the remaining three rounds of Sheffield Shield fixtures are likely to play a big part in who will eventually take the two available stops at the top of the order.


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