They say the toughest job in Test cricket is batting at the top of the order, and they aren’t wrong. Taking on the new ball may be the best time to bat in white ball cricket, but with the red ball, you are coming up against a swinging ball, and every part of your technique is tested.
This was never clearer than in the recent Test series between India and England, where it took until the fifth and final Test for any of the openers in the series to go past 50. That first opener to pass 50 was Alastair Cook, who played in his final Test match and ended a stellar career with a superb 147 at the Oval.
Cook has been one of, if not the greatest opener that we have seen in Test cricket over the last decade or so, and the figures certainly reflect that. His record of playing in 159 consecutive Test matches is also one that is likely to stand for a long time.
We have entered an era of a cricket where, partly down to Twenty20 cricket, the traditional opener has gone slightly. We now see a number of openers who look to play their shots from ball one, regardless of opposition or match situation, a trait perhaps inspired by India great Virender Sehwag.
Here are the top ten openers in Test cricket at the moment.
#10 KL Rahul (India)
Rahul makes this list off the back of an excellent performance for India in the final Test of their series against England. He struggled in the opening few games of the series, and had he not been so reliable in the slip cordon, he probably would have been left out of the side. However, he remained in it, and played a superb innings in the final match, making a very stylish 149.
He hasn’t always been an opener in Test cricket, but given the recent struggles of Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay, he may have a future there. He is certainly a stylish opener, and although he doesn’t have the best defensive technique, he plays some superb shots. He already has five hundreds to his name, along with 11 half-centuries, with a decent average of 38.53, something he will wish to improve over the coming years.