England coach Trevor Bayliss admits that their lack of bite in the top order remains a concern going into the 2019 Ashes but believes his side can step up to the challenge.
Since March 2014, only the retired Alistair Cook (4376) has scored more than 1000 runs at the top of the order for England, the next best figures belonging to Keaton Jennings with 755.
Seventeen players have been promoted to open the innings since then and just 23 of the 123 first-wicket stands have been worth more than 50.
“You don’t have to be Einstein to work that out," he said when asked if that would be their biggest problem heading into the series.
“They have been for the last six or seven years, but it didn’t stop us (from winning the Ashes) four years ago."
The likes of Rory Burns, Joe Denly and Jason Roy are natural choices atop the order but their lack of experience in Test cricket remains a concern.
Nevertheless, Bayliss was impressed with Roy’s showing in the one-off Test against Ireland, when he scored a gritty 72 in the second innings.
“Like any debutant, he looked nervous, but to score 70-odd in your first Test was a good effort.
“There was a bit more in those wickets than I’m sure he’s been used to in white-ball cricket over the last few years, but runs are runs.
“He wouldn’t be the first player to look scratchy and eke out runs. In fact, that’s a good sign, I think."
Bayliss added that the team wanted Roy to be his attacking self but added that the swashbuckling batsman will need to pick and choose his moments to attack.
“We want him to go out and play his natural game, but in red-ball cricket, you have to be a little more selective.
“You’ve got to make a conscious effort to say to yourself, ‘I’m not going to go for the big cover drive on the up until I’m really settled, the wicket is flat or the ball’s not doing as much’."
The first Ashes Test gets underway on August 1 at Edgbaston.