Aussie 20-year first in cricket quandary

He was at risk of losing his spot in the Test side last week, but Australia will be relying on Joe Burns to step up as the side’s senior opening batsman this month.

There were murmurs the Queenslander would be axed from the side following a disappointing start to the summer, where he averaged 11.40 across five innings in the Sheffield Shield.

But after Australian stalwart David Warner injured his groin during the second ODI against India, Burns seems destined to partner with uncapped prodigy Will Pucovski for the pink-ball Test in Adelaide.

Pucovski has been on the verge of a Test debut for two years, but bashed down the door for national selection with consecutive double-centuries in the Sheffield Shield.

The Victorian’s impeccable form mounted the pressure on Burns to muster some big totals ahead of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which he failed to do in Adelaide.

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“It’s been a little bit frustrating for me personally,” Burns told reporters on Thursday. “I got to Adelaide and was licking my lips seeing some flat wickets and hoping to make plenty of runs. But I just found ways to get out.

“So a little bit frustrating but I kind of reflect on that, and I was probably chasing the game a little bit too much after obviously a lay-off during the winter and getting back into it.”

Joe Burns of Queensland.Source:Getty Images

The upcoming three-day tour match against India at Drummoyne Oval was initially touted as an old-fashioned "bat-off" between the pair, but now serves a valuable opportunity for Burns and Pucovski to spend some time together at the crease.

They have only batted together once in professional cricket, during an Australia A fixture in Sussex last year.

“I haven’t had a chance to bat too often with Will,” Burns said.

“The Australia A game … is a crucial part of our preparation as a Test squad, for not only me and Will, but all the guys, to jell together.

“It’s exciting. Will is obviously in good form, he’s earnt his spot in the squad, and I’m just looking forward to getting to work with him.”

As revealed by cricket.com.au, if Burns and Pucovski open the batting in the Adelaide Oval Test, it will be Australia’s first right-handed opening partnership since March 2000.

Former greats Michael Slater and Greg Blewett were Australia’s most recent right-handed opening partnership in the five-day format.

Blewett believes the left hand-right hand combination is the most effective formula at the top of the order, denying opposition bowlers the chance to settle on a consistent line and length.

“If you’ve got a right and left-hander with different games as well, that’s your ideal because then you’ve got bowlers having to constantly change their line as well as their length,” Blewett told cricket.com.au this week.

“I would also say there are probably more right-arm fast bowlers going around in world cricket and they create more rough for left-handed batsmen, so I’ve also felt that left-handed batsmen have had it tougher than right-handers.”

William Pucovski of Victoria.Source:Getty Images

With four Test centuries to his name, Burns feels more than prepared to take on the role as Australia’s senior opening batsman in Warner’s absence.

“Dave is such a world-class player — it’s a nice luxury to have him at the other end,” Burns said. “At the same time, I’ve always said I’ll try and take as much responsibility in myself as well.

“Now that he’s out injured, it’s a great opportunity to play a senior role.

“In saying that, nothing changes drastically. It’s about working with whoever you’re batting with at the time and making sure you’re executing your skills as best as possible.”

Australia’s first Test against India will commence on Thursday, December 17th.

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