Boot on the other foot for England openers

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England are replicating Australia's top-order horrors from the 2019 Ashes, with their nightmare starts matching those of their rivals from two years ago.

Australia's effort to retain the Ashes in 2019 came despite their issues at the top of the order, where they averaged just 8.5 for the series.

Two-and-a-half years later, and Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed are averaging the same, with 34 runs scored for the first wicket in the first four innings.

But while it was the Dukes ball swing that dominated David Warner, Marcus Harris and Cameron Bancroft two years ago, this time the bouncy wickets Down Under are hurting England off a good length.

Burns was bowled by Starc off the first ball of the series, but his following two dismissals have come edging behind the wicket.

Likewise, three of Hameed's four innings have also ended with him nicking off.

His dismissal for a duck to Jhye Richardson in Adelaide on Sunday evening marked the worst possible start to the tourists' bid to save the match.

The impact on England's team has been clear, with the world's best bat Joe Root brought out at No.4 in the opening seven overs of both of England's first innings this series.

In comparison, the hosts' key man in Steve Smith has walked out in the 48th and 65th overs of Australia's first innings in both Tests.

England do have an alternative option in their squad, with Zak Crawley having previously opened the batting for England.

However he was dropped after a poor run of form earlier this year against India and England, where he scored just 68 runs in nine innings.

Fellow opener Dom Sibley is not on the tour after pulling out of the Lions trip, opting to spend the English summer working on his batting at home.

At least one former English Ashes opener showed some form over the weekend in Australia, with Mark Stoneman scoring 150 for St George in Sydney Grade Cricket on Saturday.

The 34-year-old however is not part of the Ashes tour either, having last played for his country back in 2018, averaging 25.77 in Test cricket in Australia four summers ago.

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