“England have started to realize the value of his determination and patience, which went unnoticed at Pallekele and Bridgetown Barbados. But in each innings, his impact has been felt and perhaps, after the quick-falls of Comptons, Jennings, Robson, and Lyths; Burns is here to stay for a long time”

 

You won’t pay to watch him. Neither would you expect him to deliver the best when your team needs it the most! He has a strange back lift and shaky footwork. Obviously, he is susceptible outside offstump and against the short-balls. But Rory Burns can’t be written off so soon. After spending a year in Test cricket, one could say ask himself whether England found the ideal Test opener since Alastair Cook left. This year, he has become the first English Test opener to notch up a Test ton at home and away since Cook. Well, you can be optimistic.

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Despite having a susceptible technique, Burns is a batsman, who loves to do it his way. And he sticks to it no matter whatever one says. He came out good in Sri Lanka and West Indies, while in the Ashes, his grit earned praises. Scores of 133, 53, 81 & 47, overall 390 runs at an average of 39 is nothing spectacular, but in each innings, the patience of the classy and ferocious Australian pace attack had been tested. That was much needed when England were desperately in need of a gritty and solid opener in test cricket.

But the analysis of his technique continued. It stayed the same. What improved more had been his mental strength.

On Saturday evening, Burns, as usual, looked scratchy.  After surviving a drop at slips and midwicket, the thought of another exhibition of grittiness cropped up at the back of his mind. He is not a Tom Latham, whose Test hundred was evident since he faced the first ball on Day 1, but he can still come good with his own-style-of-batsmanship: spend time at the crease keeping my style intact. It worked again.

Dom Sibley and Joe Denly had departed. New Zealand were on top. Joe Root came at the crease with a lean-patch. Burns wanted to make it big and so did Root. Root started to rediscover his mojo, but he can’t deny the sheet-anchor role played by Burns at the other end.

On Sunday, that beast Neil Wagner dished out a barrage of short-pitch stuff, which thudded onto his chest. But such hostility could hardly deter Burns from his job. He knows he had to keep moving – one tick falling out of the sync could prove disastrous. There were those gutsy pull shots along with some eye-catching straight drives and cut shots behind square but what mattered more was the 321 minutes he spent at the wicket, which proved vital in stabilizing the English innings, which was in tatters when two top-order batsmen left early.

Burns said, “I struggled a little bit with my tempo on day two. I basically just kept seeing it and wanted to climb into it and give it the kitchen sink. It more of a mindset shift rather than a technical shift on day three. I just tried to let the ball come to me and kill it underneath my eyes”.

“Initially I felt pretty comfortable riding Wagner’s short balls and he bowled a couple of good ones. But I thought ‘I’m actually seeing them quite nicely’ and I’ve been working on the pull for a while, so I thought I’d get it out and put it to work. I felt pretty comfortable with that and thought I played it quite nicely”.

The traditional bow came out after reaching the hundred, but frustration took over as soon as he was dismissed – a run-out in Test cricket is certainly disappointing.

“It’s been a positive day but it could have been a better day. Bittersweet is probably the overriding feeling. I enjoyed the fact I made a century, but at the same time I’m disappointed that I couldn’t stretch it”.

Indeed a disappointing end. But one thing for sure, England have started to realize the value of his determination and patience, which went unnoticed at Pallekele and Bridgetown Barbados. But in each innings, his impact has been felt and perhaps, after the quick-falls of Comptons, Jennings, Robson, and Lyths; Burns is here to stay for a long time.

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