SINCE the retirement of Andrew Strauss in 2012, Alastair Cook has had six different opening partners in Test cricket.
Nick Compton, Joe Root, Michael Carberry, Sam Robson, Jonathan Trott and Adam Lyth have all been tried and ultimately found wanting, although Root has since prospered heavily in the middle order.
Lyth is the latest to fall off the merry-go-round, having been dropped for the three-match series against Pakistan that starts in the United Arab Emirates next month.
The Yorkshire batsman has paid the price for scoring 115 runs in the five Ashes Tests at an average of 12.77.
Lyth’s statistics are clearly unflattering and certainly make a case for his omission. However, no-one else has been banging down the door to accompany Cook.
Alex Hales, who has replaced Lyth in the 16-man squad, has had a summer book-ended by big scores in county cricket but not much else sandwiched in between.
Hales hit 510 runs in the first three County Championship games – including a career-best 236 against Yorkshire at Trent Bridge – and recently struck 189 against Warwickshire.
But there have been plenty of failures along the way and nothing that obviously suggests he is better than Lyth.
Compton, who had the longest run as Cook’s opening partner post-Strauss before being dropped after the Headingley Test against New Zealand in 2013, is another who has been steady this season rather than spectacular.
Compton’s 149 against Yorkshire the other day was only his second hundred in a summer in which he has routinely failed to convert good starts.
Carberry has hit nine Championship half-centuries this year but not had a century; Robson has managed only one hundred; Trott has now retired from international cricket, while none of the up-and-coming players around the circuit have made a case.
So problematic is the situation that there has even been talk of Moeen Ali potentially moving up to open with Cook in the UAE, possibly to accommodate Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid as a second spinner.
Whether Ali is a viable candidate to fulfil that role on the subsequent tour of South Africa, however, remains to be seen, and he is perhaps a stop-gap measure.
As no-one else has made a compelling case, I would have stuck with Lyth.
Granted, there are those who feel that the likes of Compton and Carberry were poorly treated and that England should have stuck with them, too.
But the point is this: England surely need to stick with someone at some stage and back them to the hilt.
It was only six Tests ago, after all, that Lyth marked only his second appearance with a magnificent hundred against New Zealand at Headingley, which proved that he has the talent to thrive.
Whitby-born left-hander Lyth struggled against Australia, but he is not unique in that regard.
Plenty of others have struggled against Australia over the years and will continue to do so.
The 27-year-old Lyth has faced two high-quality attacks in his seven Tests and I would have given the Yorkshire batsman the winter before making a final decision.
Had England played Lyth on the West Indies tour last Spring, which they surely should have done, he could have built up extra credit in the bank and gone into the summer with added confidence.
As it was, England bizarrely went back to Trott in a decision which predictably backfired, and the merry-go-round shows no sign of ending.