TEST RE­CALL BURNS BRIGHT

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - WHAT'S THE BUZZ - BEN HORNE

CRICKET’S sta­tis­ti­cal boffins have de­clared that on num­bers alone, Joe Burns is the un­luck­i­est Test bats­man in 100 years.

An exclusive anal­y­sis by CricViz of the six bats­men vy­ing for two va­can­cies in the Aus­tralian top six pro­vides selec­tors with some fas­ci­nat­ing food for thought as they pre­pare to pick their side for the first Test at the Gabba.

Not since ra­dio was in­vented in the 1920s has a bats­man from any­where in the world scored as many Test hun­dreds for as few op­por­tu­ni­ties as Burns has been given.

Peren­ni­ally cast aside and not taken to Eng­land for the Ashes de­spite scor­ing 180 in his last Test, Burns has an im­pres­sive ra­tio of four hun­dreds in 16 Tests.

Only one man — English­man Jack Rus­sell in the 1920s — has played so few Tests with as many cen­turies as Burns.

“You could ar­gue that Burns was un­lucky not to go on that Ashes trip be­cause he scored a lot of runs there last year,” said Fox Cricket ex­pert An­drew Sy­monds.

“Un­for­tu­nately for him (he hasn’t knocked the door down this sum­mer) … but I’m not say­ing he can’t press for se­lec­tion, be­cause there’s still (time).”

Whether this will count for any­thing when the team is picked later this week re­mains to be seen, with the five con­tenders — Burns, Mar­cus Har­ris, Us­man Khawaja, Travis Head and Will Pu­cov­ski — brac­ing for an old-fash­ioned shootout this week as they form the top six for Aus­tralia A in a tour game against Pak­istan.

Har­ris and vet­eran Khawaja are po­ten­tially ahead of Burns in the cur­rent peck­ing or­der for the chance to be David Warner’s open­ing part­ner in Bris­bane.

Vic­to­rian Har­ris was badly ex­posed dur­ing the Ashes, but has started the do­mes­tic sea­son bet­ter than his ri­vals, while Khawaja has by far the best in­ter­na­tional record of any of the chal­lengers — only with no cur­rent form to hang his hat on.

Dur­ing the Ashes, Aus­tralia axed top or­der men Cameron Ban­croft and Khawaja, and would have chopped Har­ris if only Burns — a right-han­der to com­bat Stuart Broad — hadn’t been left at home.

The other va­cancy for the first Test is at No. 5 — with Head and Pu­cov­ski in the run­ning.

“I’d like to see Pu­cov­ski take one of the bat­ting spots … It’s a good series to play these (young) guys in,” said Fox Cricket com­men­ta­tor Al­lan Bor­der.

“You’d al­most tell him at the start of the series, ‘mate, you’re in, just show us what you can do and don’t be watch­ing over your shoul­der for the selec­tors’ tap’.

“He’s done enough to de­serve it. It’s not as if you’re just pick­ing some­one out of nowhere — he’s scored the runs. Mar­cus Har­ris is the fron­trun­ner (to open), but he’s un­der pres­sure.

CricViz has high­lighted that Head has the best record of any Aus­tralian since “Sand­pa­per­gate” but played an alarm­ing num­ber of false shots in Eng­land to be dropped for the fi­nal Test.

Pu­cov­ski is sta­tis­ti­cally ready for the el­e­va­tion into the Test ranks, but is the fact many of his runs have come on bat­ter-friendly pitches in Mel­bourne cause for con­cern?

Aus­tralia A goes in to bat­tle with Pak­istan to­mor­row, with selec­tors to an­nounce their first Test team by the end of the week.

Cameron Ban­croft was yes­ter­day thrown an out­side chance of Test redemp­tion when he was called into the Aus­tralia A squad as an 11th-hour re­place­ment for Nic Maddin­son (with­drawn for men­tal health rea­sons).

If he was to fire against Pak­istan this week and the other can­di­dates failed, he could not be dis­counted.

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