West Indies v Australia ODIs - Women's
Burns beats her own path and reaps the rewards
A long-awaited international debut came in dramatic circumstances but seemed oddly apt for a cricketer that's taken an unconventional career path
Laura Jolly in Antigua
10 September 2019, 10:51 AM AEST
Erin Burns' decade-long journey to the Australian squad has been far from conventional.
With that in mind, it was fitting that her long-awaited international debut in Australia's second ODI against the West Indies on Sunday came in unusual and somewhat dramatic circumstances.
Australia's playing XI was settled when they arrived at the ground, with no change from the side that romped to a 178-run win in Thursday's series opener.
NSW allrounder Burns was content in the knowledge she'd again be running the drinks at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
A worried look from the team physio was the first hint that something might be up.
Then vice-captain Rachael Haynes made a dash to the dressing rooms minutes out from the toss.
Yeah Burnsy! The debutante off-spinner Erin Burns comes on for a bowl 🙌 LIVE: https://t.co/5mDav938WG #WIvAUS pic.twitter.com/kGw741h6AR— Australian Women's Cricket Team 🏏 (@AusWomenCricket) September 8, 2019
And when she emerged, dressed in Aussie gold and ready to step up as Australian captain, Burns felt a tap on her shoulder.
"It was pretty surprising, I saw Meg doing a few stretches there and I saw Kate our physio with a concerned look on her face and then (Australia coach) Matthew Mott made a beeline for me," Burns told cricket.com.au.
"It was all pretty quick but really exciting. There absolutely was no time to get nervous, just straight into a bit of a warm-up."
The sudden back spasm that ruled Australia captain Meg Lanning out of the match paved the way for 31-year-old Burns to achieve a life-long dream.
And after the team manager made a quick run to the dressing room to retrieve ODI cap No.141 – its Asics tag still attached – it fell on Burns' Sydney Sixers captain and friend Ellyse Perry to do the honours.
"It was the most nervous I've been in a long time, it got thrown on me at the last minute but it was really special because I've got a huge amount of respect for Erin and everything she's done," Perry said after Australia completed a 151-run victory.
"I've had the privilege of knowing her since I was pretty young and playing underage cricket at NSW and to see her evolve over the years and to be as dynamic a player as she is, she's fitted in straight away and I think she embodies a lot of what our team's about.
"It's been really nice to see her progress in the last couple of years and to see her get an opportunity to play for Australia is very much deserved."
Burns' debut was the latest milestone in what has been a landmark year for the off-spinning allrounder.
The allrounder had already featured in a Rebel WBBL final with the Sixers, play in the Governor-General's XI, moved state team from ACT to her native New South Wales, moved house, married new wife Anna and enjoyed a honeymoon in Italy since the start of 2019, all before earning selection in the Australia A squad to tour England in July.
The call-up to that tour came as a surprise to Burns – although it was far less of a shock to anyone who has followed her consistent form with bat and ball across the Rebel WBBL and WNCL in recent summers – while the fact she works as a physio alongside had also meant a groveling chat with her boss.
Little did she know that less than a month after her return from England, she'd be having the same conversation – only this time, she'd be selected in Australia's senior squad for a tour of the Caribbean.
"This year's been crazy," Burns said. "It was pretty surreal, I didn't think this was at all on the radar.
"I got the call from (national selector) Shawn Flagler and it was more of a, 'You're on the injury replacement list at the moment, it's unlikely but you're there or thereabouts'.
"And I thought it was just cool to be considered. I flagged it with my boss and said, 'Don't have a heart attack yet, this is what I've been told but the likelihood is I'll still be around to work' and then a couple of days later the call came through.
"It happened pretty quickly for me, so it was equal parts really exciting and 'oh dear God, I've got to get a lot of stuff sorted'."
Something of a journeywoman in Australian domestic cricket; this year has seen Burns come full circle.
The Wollongong native played underage cricket for New South Wales, but the sheer depth of talent in her home state forced her to look further afield for a state contract.
That opportunity presented itself with the newly formed Tasmania side in 2010, where she spent the next seven WNCL seasons, while she was also a member of the Hobart Hurricanes' first Rebel WBBL squad.
She shifted closer to her home base of Sydney in 2017-18, signing with the ACT Meteors in the 50-over WNCL (and joining the Sydney Sixers in the WBBL), but was still faced with the need to train remotely, given her job was Sydney-based.
Then, finally, her outstanding domestic record was rewarded with a Breakers contract for 2019-20.
She'd expected to finally don the sky blue later this month for the Breakers' opening match of the WNCL season on September 22.
Her Caribbean call-up means that moment will be delayed until the next round of the domestic 50-over competition in January, but it's a situation she wouldn't change for the world.
"Beachside in the Caribbean, I don't think anyone could complain too much," Burns, who has been making the most of any opportunity to explore Antigua in the downtime between training and matches, said.
And if Ellyse Perry's words during Sunday's cap presentation – "She's like a fine bottle of wine, just getting better with age" – are anything to go by, this could just be the start for Erin Burns.
CommBank Tour of the West Indies
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Heather Graham, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
West Indies ODI squad: Stafanie Taylor (c), Hayley Matthews (vc), Reniece Boyce, Afy Fletcher, Chinelle Henry, Shamilia Connell, Stacy Ann King, Natasha McLean, Kycia Knight, Kyshona Knight, Anisa Mohammed, Karishma Ramharack, Shabika Gajnabi
One-Day Internationals* *ICC Women's Championship matches
September 5: First ODI, Australia won by 178 runs
September 8: Second ODI, Sir Viv Richards Ground, Antigua
September 11: Third ODI, Sir Viv Richards Ground, Antigua
September 14: First T20I, Kensington Oval, Barbados
September 16: Second T20I, Kensington Oval, Barbados
September 18: Third T20I, Kensington Oval, Barbados