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Lightning Aussie attack will relish facing this England top order, so who does Ed Smith turn to now? England's top order have flopped during Test series defeat by West Indies England have just two Tests before facing up to Australia's  pace attack Joe Denly is the 15th opening batsman used in Tests in six and a half years 

By Richard Gibson For The Mail On Sunday

Published: 22:28 GMT, 2 February 2019 | Updated: 22:46 GMT, 2 February 2019

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Australia’s tyrant trio of fast bowlers must be licking their lips watching the highlights reel of England’s latest top-order batting travails.

Six months might be a long time in cricket but it will not feel that way as the countdown clock ticks on that first Ashes Test in Birmingham.

England have just two Tests between now and facing up to a likely Australian attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins and appear no nearer to finalising their opening combination than they were at the start of the winter.

Joe Denly is the 15th opening batsman used in Tests by England in six and a half years

Joe Denly is the 15th opening batsman used in Tests by England in six and a half years

Joe Denly is the 15th opening batsman used in Tests since the retirement of Andrew Strauss six and a half years ago. There have been all kinds of combinations, to no avail.

The one constant until recently of course was Sir Alastair Cook, who looked on from the media box at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium as a man 14 months his junior, who has not opened at County Championship level since 2015, walked out alongside Rory Burns.

How has it come to a player more accustomed to a berth in Kent’s middle order being thrust into battle against new-ball operators of the

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