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Joe Burns

Burns keeping a lid on fielding role

Test opener making the most of break between red-ball assignments to work on one of cricket's toughest roles

Australia Test opener Joe Burns hopes long hours logged under the lid will hold him in good stead for short-leg success in Sri Lanka next month.

Burns has occupied short leg since returning to the Test XI at the start of last summer, in holding with Australia's long-held tradition of putting rookie batsmen in the demanding and sometimes perilous fielding position.

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It’s a tactic that has at times proved costly in the form of dropped catches, but realising it’s a position he is likely to hold for the duration of the three-Test Qantas tour of Sri Lanka and beyond into next summer, Burns has made the most of his time off between red-ball assignments, working hard at the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane to sharpen his skills before heading to the island nation.

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"It’s another one of those things with all the time off you have the luxury of doing a lot more training than I’ve ever done before in that position," Burns told cricket.com.au. "When you’re playing games you don’t always get the chance to train as much as you do when you’re not playing.

"That’s a prime example where you have a few months of knowing what your job is going to be and when you’re next playing you can tailor your whole game for those conditions.

"I’m really looking forward to (Sri Lanka). We’ve got some really good spinners and I think they’re going to do a lot of damage. Hopefully I can get a lot of catches in there."

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Life at short leg can be fraught with danger due to the close proximity to the batsman, but Burns believes embracing and accepting that aspect of the position is a necessary part of succeeding in it.

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"Everything happens so quickly in there it’s so instinctive.

"I think at the end there’s no real right or wrong way to go about it. I guess it’s like batting, everyone’s got a different way of trying to do it.

"It’s not an easy position but the more you do it the easier it becomes, the more you start to pick up where the ball is going to go instinctively, which gives you more time.

"I think you need to be hit a few times to actually feel comfortable and lose that fear.

"You just need to want to be in there."

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Burns, one of four Australian Test players who will fine-tune their skills during a week-long stint at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai ahead of the tour of Sri Lanka, has also been paying close attention to his bat-pad counterparts around the world.

"Every time there’s been a short leg in I’ve been watching to see how they go about it.

"I’ve noticed the different depths guys stand which is something I never really considered in the past. I’ve noticed England, for example, they set their guys back a little bit deeper.

"Even Sri Lanka, when they were playing in England, they were a little bit deeper than what I thought they would be.

"I guess that changes throughout different conditions. It’s like anything in cricket, you’ve just got have an open mind and try to learn from everyone as much as you can." 

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