Finding a Solution to the Top-Order Puzzle: Why Moving Marnus to Opener Isn’t the Answer

In Test cricket, the batting order comes down to two options – selecting openers, a pseudo opener at first drop with the technique to handle the moving ball and then the rest of the order from best to worse. Marnus Labuschagne is suited to the No.3 spot and giving him the chance to be an opener would not be wise. Australia coach Andrew McDonald has considered elevating Labuschagne to partner Usman Khawaja at the top of the order, moving Steve Smith up to three and making room for Cameron Green in the middle order. While this may not be the worst idea in theory, it ignores the importance of Test cricket needing specialist openers. The next opener after David Warner will get a saloon passage into the role in a two-Test home series against a West Indies side. Labuschagne actually began his career as an opener in 2014. He broke into the Queensland team as an opener and made an encouraging start but then struggled for the rest of the season. After that setback, he built a case for Test honours and has since been a world-class No.3. If converting him to an opener is the answer, then selectors are asking themselves the wrong questions.