Sir Ian Botham has suggested that England will be keeping their options open as the management staff consider who to select at three for the upcoming series with South Africa.
However, Botham believes that no decision will be made until the candidates are given a chance to impress in warm-up games.
"I don't particularly have a preference who England play at three," he told Sky Sports News. "The management and the captain will pretty much have an idea already of how the team for that first Test will look, although they will never admit it.
"But they might just wait and see how the couple of tour games go, give one or two an opportunity to stake their claim.
"It might not even necessarily end up being one of Compton or Ballance."
The first Test gets underway in Durban on Boxing Day.