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Cricket World Cup 2023: Do England's Test openers deserve places for India?

With the summer's Ashes in the rear-view mirror, it is now time for England's limited-overs team to take centre stage with the 2023 World Cup in India fast approaching.

Having won the tournament in dramatic fashion at Lord's in 2019, England are looking to defend their title when they head to India in October.

But before then Jos Buttler's side have seven ODIs and four T20s pencilled in, giving selectors ample opportunity to assess the team.

At the top of the order Jonny Bairstow is expected to feature after fully recovering from a broken leg, while Jason Roy will be eager to retain his spot in the 50-over side after being axed for the T20 World Cup.

But there remains the possibility that either player could yet sustain an injury or endure a loss of form and there are others eager to throw their hats into the ring for a place at the top of the order.

Phil Salt and Dawid Malan are obvious candidates, but two players who could also be worth consideration are England's Test openers Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett, who are both fresh from fine performances in this year's Ashes.

What2023 Cricket World Cup
WhereTen venues across India
WhenThursday 5th October - Sunday 19th November, 2023
How to watchSky Sports Cricket
OddsIndia 11/5, England 3/1, Australia 4/1, Pakistan 7/1, New Zealand 15/2, South Africa 10/1

Crawley silences critics with Ashes form

It has felt like a long time coming, but in this summer's Ashes Crawley finally showed his full potential as an England Test opener.

Crawley finished the series as his country's top run-scorer, dazzling most notably with his 189 in the fourth Test at Old Trafford - an innings put together in only 57 overs which earned him the player of the match award.

The 25-year-old has matured under coach Brendon McCullum, becoming one of the main beneficiaries of 'Bazball', something which would surely make him suited to the shorter format.

As it stands Crawley has played just the three ODIs for England, posting scores of 58 not out, 0 and 39 against Pakistan in July 2021.

That may leave some questioning whether or not it would be a wise move drafting him into England's World Cup plans, while Crawley's Ashes success only shows that he can flourish in English conditions. Performing on the subcontinent is a different ball game.

Crawley's attention now turns to The Hundred with London Spirit and that may give a greater insight as to whether or not he would be a suitable pick for England's ODI selectors.

Duckett strong against spin

Crawley may have received most of the plaudits for his performances at the top of the order during England's Ashes series, but he was partnered brilliantly by left-hander Duckett.

Known for rarely leaving a ball, Duckett is another player who embodies everything good about Bazball with an eye-watering strike-rate of 84.73 across 15 Test matches for England.

Duckett is also a lover of sweep shots, which could prove useful in Indian conditions at the ODI World Cup.

However, improved performances in the shorter formats of the game will be required if Duckett is to get a surprise call-up.

He featured in three ODIs for England at the start of the year against South Africa but contributed only 23 runs across those matches.

Bairstow and Roy facing competition

England have just under two months before they get ready to begin their ODI World Cup campaign and some important decisions need to be made between now and then.

While existing opening pair Bairstow and Roy have previously looked too strong to separate, injury and loss of form means both could yet find their places coming under pressure and Crawley and Duckett will be among those considered as alternative options.

The main thing from Crawley's perspective will be that he has shown now he can cope with the pressure of opening for England's Test team and has proved his doubters wrong.

And, even if one of Crawley or Duckett find themselves called up to the ODI World Cup squad, it remains to be seen how one will perform without the other given so much of their success during the Ashes hinged on their relationship at the crease.

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