On the Front Foot: Is left-field selection of Watson as an opener the right choice?

Should Shane Watson, as is being suggested in some panic-stricken quarters, open Australia's batting at Birmingham on Thursday, he will change a whole way of life.

The team have played 92 Tests since a right-hander opened. The last was Michael Slater at Leeds in 2001. He was dropped for the final game at The Oval, when Justin Langer began his enduring partnership with Matthew Hayden, and since then it has been left-handers all the way. Of course, Hayden and Langer have done the bulk of the work but the other six men used on a temporary basis have all been left-handers. The records show that there was a first-wicket partnership of 12 between Hayden and the very right-handed Ricky Ponting at the Wanderers in March 2006.

But Ponting had gone in only after Langer had retired hurt. Australia have fielded 15 dual left-handed partnerships since Bill Lawry and Bob Cowper opened against India at Sydney in 1968, although six survived for just one match. Only Mark Taylor and Matthew Elliott, who went in first in 14 Tests, kept selectorial faith for long. England, who have a left-handed pairing of their own in Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, first used an all left-handed partnership in the West Indies in 1955 when Willie Watson and wicketkeeper Reg Spooner opened in the second innings with few runs needed for victory. Their first selected left-handed openers were Jack Ikin and Brian Close the following summer. Strauss and Cook have gone in first in 32 Tests, four more than Strauss and Marcus Trescothick, but still need 21 runs to become the heaviest-scoring left-handed openers for England. If they score another 231 runs in this series together they will overtake Len Hutton and Cyril Washbrook as the second most prolific first-wicket run-scorers for England.

Jimmy keeps up with Jones

On the subject of batting feats, Jimmy Anderson has now gone 51 innings from the start of his Test career without registering a duck. This equals the record for an England player, set by Geraint Jones who then bagged a pair in his 52nd and 53rd innings and has not played since. Anderson still has a long way to go to match AB de Villiers' record of 78 innings from the start of his career without a duck, a run that ended against Bangladesh last November.

Hauritz delivers good line

Ashes poet David Fine has been in touch with some spiffing ideas as part of this column's competition, for which the prize is two tickets for a major match. In the spirit of the event he suggests it would be a good wheeze to ask readers to come up with verse (and rhyme) about the Australian bowler Nathan Hauritz. He sent this:

'A low-key Aussie offie is Horitz,

Bowls rhubarb and soft-centred chocolates.

He grew more flighty

Coming to Blighty,

Tossed up toss-pots till short-leg vomits.'

OTTF thought there might be a better rhyme and on the back of a scorecard during the 17th watching of the Lord's highlights came up with this:

'Nathan Hauritz,

Loathed St Moritz.

He went there to bowl off breaks

To be told he was no great shakes.'

Entries to the email address below please.

Limp excuse for Strauss

It may not mean much now but the fining of the England team for slow over-rates at Lord's could be serious. Captain Strauss lost 20 per cent of his match fee. If he does it again he could face a match ban. Will match referee Jeff Crowe make allowances for Andrew Flintoff having to hobble back to his mark?

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Sport
sport
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape