Let's start with two of the most important positions,
The opening batsmen, to me you need two different people to do this. You need one to hold the innings together, to battle through regardless of his score, where he keeps his end shut and let's no one in.
The other is a far more attacking batsman, I'm not saying he needs to be so aggressive he throws his wicket away. Just enough to get the scoreboard ticking along and try get the field back.
Also it can vary. You don't really want one one of them to be too defensive when it comes to T20 cricket. But for this piece I will discuss my views for the test format. To me the proper format.
For the more defensive opening batsman, and my favourite opener that is still playing.
Ed Joyce(Ireland & Sussex)
He is arguably the greatest batsman that Ireland has produced. And his first-class career speaks for itself, with 11613 runs and an average of 45.01. He opens the batting in all forms for Sussex and recently has opened the batting for Ireland. He is a classic left hander, with all the shots in his arsenal. His career has gone from strength to strength since his move to Sussex from Middlesex. He's not the most aggressive player, so that's why I've highlighted him as a opener who can keep an end shut. A good player of spin, with nice footwork. There is many who feel England didn't get the best from him, and his International stats don't jump out of you, but he has a century against Australia, which contained an attack of Brett Lee, Shaun Tait, Glenn McGrath, Nathan Bracken.
His International stats can be defended from the fact he's been sitting on England's bench for the last four years, or near enough to it. He is still quite young as batsmen go at 33.
Brendon McCullum (New Zealand)
My second opener is the more aggressive option. He is a wicket-keeper batsman for New Zealand, and recently played for Kochi Tuskers in the IPL. He would be the opposite of Ed Joyce. A very aggressive batsman who I went for based on his attacking strength. On his day he will send the best bowlers around the park. And what you get with a batsman like Brendon is inconsistency, which isn't a very good thing. But I feel out of all the present day openers he is the most consistent aggressor.
You don't want to give this man any room or width at all, and don't bother sending the spinners against him. He will chew them up and spit them out with his strong footwork. He is especially deadly in the shorter forms of the game. That's not to say he isn't capable of doing this in test cricket, as in a recent warm up game against Australia A, he had whacked 146 runs from 121 balls, and going back a few years in IPL 1 when he had played for the Kolkata Knight Riders, he produced one of the best innings in T20 history with 158 runs from only 73 balls.
There is no doubting the talent of McCullum, but it's about getting the mix between aggression and proper shot selection is the vital key, and I feel he is the closest modern day opener to achieving this.