Paine backs Burns to open in first Test

Rob Forsaith
·2-min read

Tim Paine expects Joe Burns to be retained in Australia's XI for the series opener against India, suggesting the opener's recent slump should not overshadow his Test record.

Will Pucovski demanded selection in Australia's 17-man squad for the four-Test series, having become just the eighth player to score consecutive double-centuries in the Sheffield Shield.

Former captains Ian Chappell, Mark Taylor, Michael Clarke and Kim Hughes have called for Pucovski to debut at Adelaide Oval in light of his sparkling form and the struggles of Burns, who managed just 57 runs from five knocks in the Shield hub.

Coach Justin Langer and chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns won't make a final call until Burns and Pucovski open together for Australia A in a three-day game that begins on December 6.

But both selectors appear to be leaning towards the incumbent, with Langer last week highlighting the value of Burns' "chemistry" with David Warner and arguing "we should back the guys" in the team.

Paine, speaking to reporters after being confirmed as Hobart Hurricanes' latest signing, is not a selector but made it clear he believes Burns should not be dropped.

"Burnsy had a really good summer for us last year with David Warner, their partnership and relationship is a really important one for our team," the Test captain said.

"They got us off to a number of good starts last year.

"Burnsy hasn't been in the form that he would like or scored the runs he would like.

"But we know he does a good job.

"He averages close to 40 in Test cricket for Australia, which is a great effort opening the batting, and I expect him to start this summer."

Burns was recalled at the start of 2019-20 and played all five Tests of that season, sharing an opening stand worth 100 runs or more with Warner on six occasions.

The Queenslander scored 97 in that summer's first Test against Pakistan then tallied 159 runs from his next seven Test knocks.

Paine, who later on Monday morning was told to self isolate at home as per the state's guidelines for anybody who had recently visited Adelaide, had mixed emotions about Virat Kohli returning to India after the first Test.

"Disappointed for Australian cricket fans that will only get to see a little bit of him. As a player you want to play against the best and beat them," the wicketkeeper said.

"But I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a side of me that said I was slightly happy he won't be there for three of the Test matches."