Joe Burns has declared he is ready to take on a senior role and is confident of quickly building a rapport with likely Test debutant Will Pucovski in Australia's opening partnership .
David Warner's groin injury appears to have all but ruled him out of the first Test against India, a pink-ball clash in Adelaide beginning December 17.
Joe Burns says he is ready to take a senior role in the Australian Test team.Credit:AP
It means the three-day tour match between Australia A and the tourists in Sydney from Sunday is a chance for Burns and Pucovski to learn each other's habits without the focus of what had been seen even by Warner as a "bat-off" for a spot in the side.
Burns had been under pressure, having managed a modest 57 runs from five Sheffield Shield innings, but as the incumbent opener he had the support of coach-selector Justin Langer and skipper Tim Paine.
The Queenslander said on Thursday he had been frustrated with his start to the new season but had spent time on a break in Byron Bay working in the nets with batting coach Adam Hollioake not only on technique but confirming the need for greater patience.
Burns had felt he had been in career-best form at the back end of last summer with the Bulls and had wanted to "chase the game" when the new season started but this had contributed to his dismissals.
Will Pucovski will bat alongside Burns in the Australia A game this weekend. Credit:Getty Images
Relaxed and sporting a fresh hair-cut – having sheared his typical mop top into a short back and sides that he hasn't had since his school days – Burns, 31, said he was ready to work with the in-form Pucovski, 22, in their bid to "put India on the back foot" and "land the first punch".
"I haven't had a chance to bat too often with Will – I think I have batted with him once in an A game in Sussex last year – so games like this week, the Australia A game, the lead-up to it, it's a crucial part of our preparation as a Test squad, not only for me and Will, but all the guys in the squad to gel together, make sure our plans are good," he said.
"Will is, obviously, in good form. He has earnt his spot in the squad and I am just looking to working with him and getting stuck in."
Burns, averaging 38.3 in 21 Tests, has history as the senior incumbent, having rejoined the Test side in 2019 for the short series against Sri Lanka when Warner was serving his suspension. While Marcus Harris had been the incumbent, Burns had greater Test experience, and his 180 in Canberra was the backbone of the home team's win.
"Dave is such a world-class player. It's always a nice luxury to have him at the other end. At the same time, I have always said I try and take as much responsibility myself as well," Burns said.
"I always talk about the games where Dave got out early. I really wanted to perform in those games. In particular, now that he is out injured, or potentially not playing, it's a great opportunity to play a senior role. In saying that, nothing changes drastically – it's about working with whoever you are batting with at the time and executing your skills as best as possible."
Burns said time to clear his mind and work on his game in recent weeks had been invaluable, coming after the restrictions of a COVID-19-impacted off-season had intensified a desire to put bat on ball.
"It's just a reminder that you are at the mercy of a bowler and what's coming down – having the discipline for long periods of time and absorb pressure, knowing that the runs will come from there," he said.
What Burns now hopes is that those runs will flow against the tourists, which will help him and his Australia A teammates.
"It's about getting our prep sorted for the Test series but also putting India on the back foot and landing the first punch, making sure they don't take any momentum into what is going to be a fantastic series," he said.
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