Will Burns or Pucovski Open with Warner for Australia in Tests Versus India
Australia and India are scheduled to meet in a four-match Test series beginning on December 17 in Adelaide. Australia have named a 17-member squad which is remarkable for a few omissions such as Usman Khawaja. Equally remarkably, the squad includes a few less-known names such as Abbott, Green and Pucovski. Will any of them feature in the Australia XI for the first Test?
Can Pucovski Get His Test Cap?
On current form, the following players select themselves: Warner, Labuschagne, Smith, Head, Wade, Paine, Starc, Cummins, Lyon and Hazlewood. The inclusion of Will Pucovski in the Australian squad for the Test matches has led to a raging debate: who will open the innings with Warner – Burns or Pucovski?
Pucovski’s Sensational Season
Although Pucovski has played only 22 first-class matches with 6 tons and 5 fifties in 34 innings at an average of 55.48, Pucovski’s phenomenal consistency argues for his inclusion as soon as possible. We observe the most remarkable stat in the young batsman’s scores in the last two first-class matches played. On 30 October 2020, Pucovski made 255 not out, his highest score, against South Australia in the Sheffield Shield. A few days later, he scored 202 against West Australia (back-to-back double hundreds). But what about Burns? Does he deserve to be dropped? Before we discuss that aspect, let’s look at Burns’s performance in his fledgling Test career in the chart below.
Warner Allowed to Choose
At first glance, an average of 38.30 in 21 Test matches doesn’t appear overly impressive. Interestingly, Cricket Australia’s chairman of selectors, Trevor Hohns, has said that Warner should be consulted before deciding on who his opening partner would be: Burns or Pucovski. Warner has already made up his mind: he wants to stick with Burns. Joe Burns has already proved to be his most effective opening partner since the retirement of Will Rogers in 2015. Rogers opened with Warner in 41 Test innings and the pair averaged 51.32 and had nine century stands.
Burns and Warner Have Enjoyed Much Success Together
Burns and Warner have so far had 27 opening stands, including 6 century partnerships at an average of 50.55. The two openers last played together in the 3rd Test of a series against New Zealand in Sydney in January 2020. New Zealand were bowled out for 256 in reply to Australia’s first innings score of 454. Australia made 217/2 in their second innings. Warner (111) and Burns (40) shared an opening partnership of 107 in a match that Australia won by 279. In the previous series against Pakistan, Burns and Warner enjoyed their best stand of 222 to help Australia post a score of 580 in a match that Australia won by an innings and 15 runs. While Warner scored 154, Burns made 97.
Test matches are won via partnerships. While Will Pucovski is bound to get his day in the sun, he may have to wait a bit longer. For now, Warner and Burns will continue to open for Australia.
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