Why Rory Burns is facing the biggest challenge of his career


Rory burns hasn't played cricket for England since the test series against Pakistan last year - Michael Steele /Getty Pool 
Rory burns hasn’t played cricket for England since the test series against Pakistan last year – Michael Steele /Getty Pool

In quarantine in Chennai, Rory Burns has spent recent days shadow-batting in his hotel room. This will be not far away from the extent of Burns’s preparation for the four Tests in India. By the time of next week’s opening Test, before which England only get three days to practise together, it will 150 days since Burns last batted in a first-class game.

“I can’t wait to get going,” he said. “I’ve got a bat, literally, out and shadow-batting in the mirror behind me, not gone full Steve Smith and whited up yet, but just having the bat in hand and training, those sort of things.”

“It’s obviously a challenge, isn’t it? There’s not much we can do about that schedule, if you waste time thinking about that, it’s probably not going to be any good to you. So we’ve got three days there to put in our work and try and get used to conditions here and what we’re going to be faced with. And then it’s just a mental switch really.”

Burns has the best possible reason for the extended wait between playing games: he missed England’s tour of Sri Lanka to become a father for the first time, after his wife gave birth to a baby girl, Cora.

“It’s a strange feeling but if you are going to miss it for anything, I think the birth of your first child is probably one thing you’d do it for. It’s double-edged but I wouldn’t have changed my decision for anything.

“Just the break and refreshment and new perspective that fatherhood brings, it’s been a nice bit of time to have at home and spend with the wife and then come back and be ready to go now,” he said. “It was obviously tough leaving my newborn daughter and wife back home but it’s part and parcel of the job, and I appreciate that.”

If 2020 was a stop-start year for cricket the world over, that was especially the case for Burns. He began the year getting injured playing football in Cape Town, ruling him out of the last three Tests just after top-scoring for England in the first Test.

Burns’s summer then doubled as a microcosm of the challenges openers face in England. He performed well against the West Indies, hitting 243 runs at 46.8 apiece, but against a powerful seam attack in treacherous conditions, his four innings against Pakistan lasted just 49 balls.

The upshot is that, for all the credit that an impressive Ashes performance in 2019 provides, Burns retains a middling Test record: 1233 runs at 32.4 from his 21 Tests.

In some ways these figures simply reflect the heightened challenges of opening the batting in the modern Test game. “I certainly think it’s getting more difficult with sides exploiting their own conditions,” Burns said. “In Sri Lanka it spins from ball one. And when you’ve got a new ball and some spin and some skid, it’s actually quite possibly the hardest place to bat there as well, as it is back home when it’s seaming and swinging.”

“It’s actually just a really tough place to bat. The role of Test match opener might change and it might be how deep can you get it so that you made a lot of cash-in so you can actually build really big first innings scores.”

For all the focus on spin, Burns also knows that India’s formidable pace attack will also test every iota of his technique, with England not anticipating wickets that turn as early as in Sri Lanka. “I think you’ll probably see wickets that are generally just good cricket wickets that will spin as the game goes on.”

If he is to withstand the multifarious challenges that India will present, Burns knows that he cannot think of cricket alone. Unlike in Southampton last summer, “we aren’t overlooking a cricket ground which for me is a massive positive,” he said.

In between the shadow-batting in his room, Burns has enrolled in a psychology course to provide a distraction and, potentially, even point the way to a career after he has stopped playing the game.

“That’s going to take up a bit of my time, just to switch off and do other things,” he said. “Basically just writing things down and getting my headspace right away from the game so I can fully focus on cricket.

“It helps to keep you fresh. That’s something I probably neglected in the summer because it was such a short period of time. Not really knowing what we were doing and not wanting to take too much on. It certainly gets your mind away from cricket, so I don’t just sit there and stew about the game completely. There are other things going on in the world. If 2020 isn’t a humbler for a lot of people, then I don’t know what will be.”


Source link


Scoop Sky is a blog with all the enjoyable information on many subjects, including fitness and health, technology, fashion, entertainment, dating and relationships, beauty and make-up, sports and many more.

Related Articles

Back to top button