Early net session the cure as Burns keeps the faith
Joe Burns reveals he maintained a deep belief in his game despite a lean run with the bat this summer
Adam Burnett at the Gabba
5 January 2021, 08:24 AM AEST
A relieved Joe Burns insists an early net session with coach Darren Lehmann was just the Test match hangover cure he needed to channel his focus into winning matches for the Brisbane Heat.
Burns, much maligned this summer after a forgettable run of form (notwithstanding an unbeaten second-innings 51 in Australia's first Test win), was able to do exactly that for his KFC BBL side on Monday night against the Sydney Thunder, the right-hander's 52 from 38 balls guiding his side to a five-wicket triumph at the Gabba.
Coming to the crease with 121 required from 88 balls, the 31-year-old produced just the sort of innings upon which he has built his reputation as a composed stroke-maker. From the stands, as he worked his way into his innings, it was easy to sit back, watch and think, Ah, it's all coming back to him, though Burns' view was to the contrary.
"You like to think that it never leaves you – it's not about coming back," he explained. "To get to this level you still maintain a deep belief in your skills and your game, your preparation and the work you've done, not only in the preceding weeks but over a long period of time.
"You just have to keep pushing through, and trust that the runs will come. The wheel always turns in this game.
"I'm also very realistic that batting in the middle order of a T20 game is very different to opening against a red ball, but it is nice to feel the ball hit the middle of the bat, and I guess to look up at the scoreboard and be thinking about the match situation; when you're not making runs, you're probably chasing the board a little bit, so it's a nice feeling."
Just two nights ago, Burns opened the batting against the Sixers in his return to the BBL but his troubles lingered; he was out for one from seven balls and never quite seemed attuned to the pace of the match.
To remedy that, he got in touch with Lehmann on Monday morning.
"I didn't put together a great T20 innings in my first game," he said, "so I got in early, had a hit with the coach, and did plenty of work with my mind really focused on doing well in this game.
"(The feeling now is) probably relief, just to get a few away to the boundary personally but also to get the result as well.
"It would've been tough in our season if we'd copped another loss tonight, so I knew the magnitude of our team situation, and I guess that's one of the reasons I wanted to get back playing for the Heat as quickly as possible – it's always tough when you get to the back-end of the season and you're chasing the game, trying to get back up the ladder, so it's nice to come back and be part of two wins."
While accepting it as an unalterable reality, Burns said the bubble environment in which squads have been forced to stay since the resumption of cricket following the COVID19 breakout have made life difficult, while evidently magnifying the pressure on the opening batsmen through his run of disappointing form.
Yet through it all, the Queenslander has tried to maintain a level of perspective.
"The bubble is challenging," he said. "I spent a lot of time with cricket people. It's nice to get on the phone and talk to some people outside the game, and get some normality back in your life.
"Especially when you're not making runs as well, it can be mentally challenging in that (bubble) space, just trying to get away from the game – you don't always get those breaks.
"I try and stay off social media but there's always noise in the game, especially at the top level, and you learn to live with it. It's part and parcel of the game and you can't let it affect your performance.
"I've just tried to stay really appreciative of every day. I feel like there's been a lot made of this summer, but man, in my head, you get the chance to open the batting for Australia on Boxing Day, you get the chance to come back and play for the Brisbane Heat in front of awesome fans – whether you make runs or not is a bonus; you're still enjoying every day.
"It's not all doom and gloom – it's just the life we live."