Australia batsman Usman Khawaja has thrown his weight behind incumbent opener Joe Burns who will fight out with Will Pucovski for a place in Australia’s starting XI for the upcoming four-Test series against India beginning December 17.
Burns and the uncapped Pucovski both have been named in Australia’s 17-man squad for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy as well as an Australia A squad that will play two warm-up matches against India in Sydney prior to the first Test at the Adelaide Oval.
Pucovski has presented a very strong case to find a spot in Australia XI by scoring back-to-back double-centuries in the opening rounds of the Marsh Sheffield Shield, which he completed with a batting average of 247.50.
On the other hand, Burns has averaged 11.40 across his five completed innings for the Bulls with a top score of 29.
“If you look at Joe Burns’ record over the last 10 years, he’s one of the most prolific runs scorers in Shield cricket,” Khawaja, who has not been included in the Test squad, told cricket.com.au.
“He’s done it consistently over a long period, so I wouldn’t really look at the last three games and say ‘Joe Burns is not a class player’ because we all know you don’t lose your class. Burnsy’s been scoring a lot of runs for Queensland for a long time to force his way into the Australian team, and he made (180) and then lost his position. So he’s had some tough calls made on him,” he added.
Burns, who made his Test debut in 2014 against India, has so far played 21 Tests for Australia in which he has scored 1,379 runs, including four hundreds and six half-centuries.
According to the left-handed batsman, Burns deserves to be there in the playing XI because of his record. “…I’m pretty confident he’ll continue to score runs if he gets his chance at the next level.”
The Border-Gavaskar Trophy will start with the pink-ball Test in Adelaide from December 17. It will be followed by Tests at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (December 26), the Sydney Cricket Ground (January 7) and the Gabba (January 15).