Jason Roy, James Vince in Ashes mix: Trevor Bayliss

England coach Trevor Bayliss has revealed that the discarded batsman James Vince and uncapped Jason Roy are in the fray for the Ashes later this year, what with the team’s top three not settled.

The opening conundrum in Tests has been a problem for England since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012. Since then, the selectors tried out 13 different opening partners for the now retired Alastair Cook, none of whom has done enough to hold down his spot. The latest opener, Rory Burns, averages 25 after six Tests while Keaton Jennings averages 25.19 after 17 matches. (READ MORE: Bairstow back in middle order “bad news” for Foakes: Bayliss)

During the series loss to West Indies, England opened with Burns and Jennings opening in the first and third Tests, with the 32-year-old Joe Denly making his debut as Burns’ opening partner in the second match. When Jennings was brought back for the St Lucia Test, Denly dropped down to No 3 from where he made 20 and 69.

During the Sri Lanka tour in late 2018, Moeen Ali was batted at No 3 in the first Test, Ben Stokes in the second and for the dead rubber in Colombo, a fit-again Jonny Bairstow returned to the XI and scored a century as England swept the series 3-0. Bairstow opened in the first two Tests in the West Indies, before dropping back to No 7 in St Lucia. (READ MORE: I need to score big runs and wait for my turn: Jason Roy)

In his fourth innings in Tests, Joe Denly made 69.
In his fourth innings in Tests, Joe Denly made 69. (Twitter/ICC)

These chequered performances and experiments have left England in a muddle as they slipped from No 3 to No 5 in the ICC Test rankings. Speaking after the 232-run win over West Indies in St Lucia, Bayliss said that Vince, who averages 24.90 fro 13 Tests without scoring a hundred, and white-ball opener Roy are on the radar.

“Jason is one of the names that’s been spoken about over the last six to nine months as a possibility. He could be a Test player,” said Bayliss after England’s 2-1 series loss in the West Indies. “James is another one who 12 months ago played pretty well in Australia in patches. If those two guys come out and score runs they’ll be in the mix.

On Burns, Jennings and Burns, Bayliss stated that they could remain the top three for the Ashes which begin in August.

“Those three guys are the incumbents in those positions, I suppose,” he said. “If they come out and score as heavily as they have done in the last few years in county cricket then it might be difficult to look past them. If Keaton comes out and scores a lot of runs in the early matches of the season and no-one else does then there might not be a decision to make.

“We’re still looking for those places. Supporters of English cricket want to have 11 exceptional cricketers but it’s taking time. The guys trying to nail those places down are working their backsides off to do well in international cricket but it’s taken a bit longer than they would like and longer than we would like as well.

“The top three positions, the struggles they’ve had, is well documented. They’ve all shown what they can do but it’s about doing it more regularly.”

Asked about the possibility of Ian Bell, who was dropped from the Test squad in early 2016, Bayliss replied: “To be honest, [Bell’s] name hasn’t been mentioned as near as many times as those other guys. But you never say never.”