For once, England have an excess of decent options at the top of the order. Since Andrew Strauss' retirement, 17 players have opened the batting for England (these players can be seen at the bottom of the article), with over ten tried at number 3 after Jonathan Trott left the 2013/14 Ashes tour with mental health problems. Now, going into the series against the West Indies, England will choose three from Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Joe Denly and Dom Sibley.
Rory Burns possess an unusual technique, but boasts an Ashes century and has been a Wisden cricketer of the year. His average is just 33.75, but with eight scores of 50+ he is the highest run scorer of all four. With some tipping him as a future captain, he would likely be in the side had injury in South Africa not cost him his place. If he is to play against the West Indies, the selectors will have to drop someone.
At 22, Zak Crawley, has made a promising start to his career. With two scores of 40+ against South Africa, and a test average of nearly 30, Crawley has a decent platform to kick on from if selected this summer. He posses a strong technique and, although having been thrown in at the deep end, his temperament is impressive. As the old cliché goes, he has an old head on young shoulders. He does have the opening slot at the moment, but has les runs and experience then his competitors.
Joe Denly's England career has been quite something. The Kent stalwart's 2018 recall to the limited overs side was surprising to some-indeed, his bowling proved more effective than his batting on occasion. His test rise has come out of his reliability. England's shortage of top order batsmen saw him debut in the West Indies last year, and a gritty run in the side, along with moving around in the order on request has given him 14 tests, with a decent average of 30. His inability to convert starts has held him back, but his main weakness is his age-at 34 he is not a long term option.
If it wasn't for all-round hero Ben Stokes, Dom Sibley would have a man-of-the-match award for 133* in the 2nd test against South Africa. However, Sibley does boast a test average of 40.22, over 1000 County Championship runs in 2019, along with an effective, if odd technique. He likely has the most solid position in the side, having played the last test and having performed better than Crawley and Denly.
Despite my appreciation for the work of Joe Denly, I'm of the view that England should blood in these three young openers. Give them time and patience and they should come good. Therefore, my England top three is:
The aforementioned 17 openers are: N. Compton, J. Root, M. Carberry, S. Robson, J. Trott, A. Lyth, M. Ali, A. Hales, B. Duckett, H. Hameed, K. Jennings, M. Stoneman, R. Burns, J. Denly, J. Roy, D. Sibley, Z. Crawley.