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Ashes 2019: Can England let technique affect selection for the first Test?

Rory Burns failed to impress against Ireland
Rory Burns failed to impress against Ireland
Fraser
CONTRIBUTOR
Modified 01 Apr 2020, 17:29 IST
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Actions speak louder than techniques they say. Well words, but stick with me. 

England’s top order remains a mystery just three days out from the first Ashes Test of the summer, and with runs harder to come by than successful Brexit negotiations, the Barmy Army's top order looks set to arrive at Edgbaston awfully undercooked at best.

Rory Burns is the first and biggest thorn in the side of the selectors, not only because of the shortage of runs in the Ireland Test and a Test average of 22.28, but also a technique that seems to have morphed the last couple of months into a closed bat face which most commentators have disregarded as a detrimental step backwards. 

Michael Atherton mirrored this view. When picking his lineup for the first Test, Atherton disregarded Burns and instead opted for James Vince despite equal problems in weight of runs while noting: “Who I think looks the best player of that lot and who I think has the best chance of getting runs.”

How much does technique matter?

In reality, how much does looking good matter? Lining up against England on Thursday will be past and most likely future Test captain of Australia, Steve Smith. With a technique more complicated than the Apollo 11, a Test batting average of 61.37 seems to suggest it matters little. On a side note, this average is impressive enough for Smith to be considered a modern great before you factor in the first few years of batting at 8 and being included as a leg spinner.

Steve Smith in action at Hampshire
Steve Smith in action at Hampshire

You don’t have to go too far back in history to find Graeme Smith, arguably the best batsman South Africa have ever produced, who averaged 48 as an opener, yet at the same time held the bat with the surprise of someone who had never seen one before. Smith himself even admitted he made a career out of looking ugly.

Graeme Smith in action in the nets for South Africa
Graeme Smith in action in the nets for South Africa

Something that certainly can’t be directed at the Smiths is the willingness to grind out ugly runs when teams need them the most. Both have unwavering confidence in their method, and with averages of 61 and 48, how can you say they go about things the wrong way?

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With limited options to replace him and his inclusion in yesterday's squad, England look likely to be forced to stick with Burns for at least the first Test. The worry may be more so regarding the tinkering with technique and the admission that there’s something that needs to be changed, rather than the unorthodox technique in the first place. 

Follow Sportskeeda for all the updates on Ashes live score, schedule, news, results, Ashes Schedule 2019, most runs, most wickets and fantasy tips.

Published 29 Jul 2019, 07:40 IST
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