Sir Alastair Cook tips James Vince for England opening role in Ashes
Discarded Test batsman James Vince will open for Hampshire this season. © Getty

Former England captain and his country’s leading run-getter in Tests Sir Alastair Cook has put his faith in discarded Hampshire batsman James Vince to make a comeback in this summer’s Ashes as one of the openers to face Australia.

The opening conundrum in Tests has been a problem for England since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012, with the England selectors trying out 13 different opening partners for Cook before he retired in 2018, none of whom has done enough to hold down his spot.

During the series loss to West Indies earlier this year, England opened with Rory Burns and Keaton 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. (READ: Alastair Cook on England comeback: ‘I’ve played my last game’)

Vince’s stop-start Test career has spanned 13 matches from May 2016 to April 2018 without a century. He has crossed 50 thrice, with a best of 83 in Brisbane, and has four times been dismissed between 35 and 42. (READ: Jason Roy, James Vince in Ashes mix: Trevor Bayliss)

The 28-year-old was dropped from England’s Test squad for the two matches against Pakistan at the start of the 2018 summer, having scored 76 in his final innings of the New Zealand tour. However, that came after a poor Ashes in Australia where he made 242 runs in five Tests with two fifties and an average of 26.88.

Cook, however, felt that Vince could slot in for the Ashes opener on August 1 at Edgbaston. (READCook hits pre-Championship form with 150* for Essex)

“I’ve always thought Vincey’s a fantastic cricketer,” he said. “You know, that 80-odd at Brisbane in the first Ashes Test — you’re a serious player to play like he did against that attack in that situation after all the build-up and pressure over five or six weeks before that. England haven’t seen the best of him but the move up to the top of the order could be what he needs to do it.

“I’ve sat and watched him play and dreamed of some of the shots he can play. I hope he doesn’t score too many runs against Essex but I think the top of the order could suit him really well. If he came back into the side and did really well, I’d be very proud.”

Vince will open the batting for Hampshire in the 2019 County Championship after being advised by Joe Root and England selector Ed Smith.

“The feedback I have got is the higher up the order you bat, the better,” he told BBC Radio Solent. “They’re more willing to move people down the order rather than up.

“I guess with how the winter has gone, it probably looks from afar that at the top of the order is where spaces may open up. I don’t think just opening the batting is going to make a difference, but opening and doing it well will.”