Burns now has 222 rea­sons to stay in the side

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT - ROBERT CRAD­DOCK Com­ment

BE­FORE Joe Burns got the news he had missed the Ashes tour he rose early, went to the ho­tel buf­fet and ate as if there was no to­mor­row.

Then he got the bad news — there was no to­mor­row.

Burns was ner­vous and smiled to him­self that even though it was morn­ing it might be his Last Sup­per so he might as well at­tack the buf­fet with the sort of zest nor­mally re­served for lions at­tack­ing wounded buf­falo.

When you have been dropped five times from the Test team you half ex­pect to be feathered out in 50-50 calls so when Trevor Hohns gave him the bad news — heart­break­ing though it was — he sim­ply headed off to Spain and Ger­many for a hol­i­day and swore to re­turn a bet­ter player.

Maybe miss­ing the Ashes will be a bless­ing for him.

Two months of pain may be the price for long-term gain. He’s missed the se­ries of the decade but will now fin­ish the decade in style and in the team.

The joy for the cricketer who has been in and out of the team so of­ten is that at last he is as­sured a short-term fu­ture.

Burns may have been dropped af­ter scor­ing 180 but you can­not drop a player who re­turns then makes 97 in his next Test in­nings. The num­bers are just too good to ig­nore.

Burns trudged off the Gabba yesterday a shat­tered man af­ter be­ing bowled be­hind his legs by Yasir Shah but while it was a bit­ter pill to swal­low to fall so close to a ton, he is cricket’s Heart­break Kid no more.

In a per­verse way when Burns un­der-edged the first ball he faced just shy of the keeper it just felt as if this could be his lucky day. It al­ways felt like all he needed was an ounce of luck.

Burns and David Warner added 222 for the first wicket at the Gabba, a stun­ning con­trast to Aus­tralia’s past 10 open­ing stands of 2, 13, 11, 13, 12, 10, 1, 0, 5 and 18.

Aus­tralia has gone from bread and drip­ping to cham­pagne and choco­lates, ad­mit­tedly against a team who, for all their promis­ing threads, can­not weave the full Test match ta­pes­try.

Yesterday Burns’s home au­di­ence saw the best of him.

His fierce pull shots, au­da­cious loft­ing of the spin­ners and a cou­ple of smok­ing drives to the fast men were the sign of a bats­man find­ing his mojo.

He fell three runs shy of what would have been his fifth cen­tury in 17 Tests. The list of play­ers who fin­ished their ca­reers with five Test cen­turies in­cludes many of Aus­tralia’s most un­der­rated crick­eters.

It fea­tures Bob Cow­per who scored a triple cen­tury against England, Jack Fin­gle­ton who is famed for be­ing a Body­line war­rior, Darren Lehmann and Chris Rogers, whose record is look­ing bet­ter each pass­ing year as Aus­tralia tries to find a part­ner for Warner.

At first glance Warner and Burns do not have much in com­mon. One spent his life in the head­lines. The other seems to sail qui­etly be­neath them.

One’s an in­stinc­tive leftie, the other a deep-think­ing right-han­der. Watch them in the field and Warner prowls while Burns stands qui­etly.

Yet they get along well and bat to­gether even bet­ter.

TWO MONTHS OF PAIN MAY BE THE PRICE FOR LONG-TERM GAIN.

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