Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann has backed incumbent opener Joe Burns to play the first Test against India, saying he will provide the hosts with experience in the absence of injured David Warner.
Burns has had a woeful run recently, managing just 62 runs at 6.89 with a highest score of 29 in his last nine first-class innings.
In the two warm-up games ahead of the four-Test series, Burns failed to reach double digits, scoring 4, 0, 0 and 1 in the four innings.
“The one good thing about Joe Burns is his record shows when he does get runs he gets hundreds and that’s a big win in terms of Test-match play,” Lehmann was quoted as saying by ‘Sydney Morning Herald’.
“I think they’ll stick with him, but that’s only my personal opinion. I think they probably should. A lot of people want to change things around and if David Warner was there it might be a bit different for him. But with no Warner I think you’ve got to have some sort of experience,” he added.
Burns’ below-par start to the Marsh Sheffield Shield season gave rise to a widespread debate as several former cricketers called for the prodigiously talented Will Pucovski to be handed a Test debut.
But now with star opener Warner out with a groin injury and Pucovski suffering a concussion in the first warm-up game, the home team had to add Marcus Harris to the squad.
“It’s always a tough call picking a side as I know. There are a lot of outside influences. At the end of the day they’ll just make a call and go with it,” Lehmann said.
“There is nothing wrong with sticking with Joe Burns. He’ll have to get some runs and he probably understands that.
“But he’s a good player who plays fast bowling pretty well and they’ve got a pretty good fast bowling attack.”
Despite the horrible run, Lehmann feels Burns has the talent and the runs will come for the opener.
“He just needs a little bit of luck. He hasn’t had much luck, coupled with a couple of indifferent shots. But cricket can turn quite quickly,” he said.
“He’s got a great pull shot, hook shot and can take the game on if needs to and can leave the ball well. The runs will come for Joe if he keeps doing the basics well enough. It’s all mental now I think.”