England's Joe Denly 'just happy to be playing' as he confirms No 4 slot for Ashes opener

Captain Joe Root moves up to No 3 in the order for first Test at Edgbaston

Cricket - England Nets - Edgbaston, Birmingham, Britain - July 30, 2019   England's Joe Denly during nets   Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
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Joe Denly confirmed on Tuesday that he would drop to No 4 in the batting order for England's opening Ashes Test against Australia on Thursday, with captain Joe Root replacing him at No 3.

Root has previously made clear he prefers batting at four in the order but the Yorkshireman is understood to have approached England coach Trevor Bayliss after last week's Test win over Ireland about returning to his old position when the Ashes opener starts at Edgbaston.

Although England beat Ireland by skittling out the visitors for 38 in their second innings at Lord's, they only managed 85 all out themselves in their first innings as their batting again struggled.

Bayliss has long wanted Root, England's leading batsman, to bat at No 3 following a succession of top-order collapses that have seen the skipper walking out to bat when two cheap wickets have fallen to leave the side on the backfoot.

Root averages 48 at four in the order but a little over 40 when batting at No 3.

But with England openers Jason Roy and Rory Burns having played just eight Tests between them, the logic in having 81-Test veteran Root bat at No 3 is clear to give them some experience.

Denly, 33, only made his Test debut in January in the West Indies and Thursday will be his fourth match in the longest form of international cricket.

Denly, speaking at Edgbaston on Tuesday, said: "Joe Root will bat at three and I'll be batting at four.

"He rang me the other day and told me he wanted to bat three and for me to go in at four. I think Rooty just wanted to get involved in the game, get up there and get out in the middle."

Batting at four will be the third different position, in just four Tests, for Denly. He debuted as an opener, then dropped to No 3.

"I'm very excited. I wasn't too fussed where I'd be batting, it's just great to be in the eleven," he added. "I've batted at four before for Kent and throughout my career, so it really wasn't a big issue. I'm just happy to be playing."

This will be Denly's first involvement in the Ashes, the chance to face Australia coming 15 years after he debuted in first-class cricket.

He had a brief stint as a limited-overs international a decade ago but it seemed Test cricket had passed him by.

However, a return to form and the arrival of his former Kent teammate Ed Smith as national selector saw him given a Test debut against the West Indies in Antigua earlier this year.

"Everyone from a young age dreams of playing in an Ashes series and to finally get that chance, being quite an old campaigner, I'm certainly excited and up for the challenge," said Denly.

"There's no doubt that the Australian bowling line-up is one of the best in the world. They have all bases covered really and, as a top-order batter, that is where you want to be, testing yourself against the best."

Denly just missed out on a place in England's triumphant World Cup squad, being replaced by Hampshire spinner Liam Dawson, who did not play a game.

"I think it was the right decision," he said. "I thought it might happen and it was a great opportunity for me to go back and play some red-ball cricket with Kent and get some good form going into this series."

The rest of England's side is yet to be decided. There are decisions to be made in the bowling department.

England named a 14-man squad and have injury doubts over both James Anderson and Jofra Archer as they bid to regain the Ashes, having lost 4-0 to Australia in the 2017-18 series.