Vodafone Test Series v India
Just let go: Rogers' advice for under-siege Burns
Australia A assistant coach speaks from personal experience as he assesses the form and fate of the incumbent Test opener
Andrew Ramsey at the SCG
13 December 2020, 07:31 AM AEST
As an ex-Test opener who faced harsh scrutiny as well as the world's best new-ball bowlers, Chris Rogers has some succinct advice for Joe Burns as the incumbent Test opener prepares to bat for his immediate international career later today.
Burns' final innings before next Thursday's start of the four-Test Vodafone Series against India comes for Australia A at the SCG this afternoon, staring at a distant target that currently stands at 472 and armed with a season-to-date return of 61 runs from eight times at bat (average 7.6).
Under regular circumstances, the 31-year-old should feel some reassurance he will retain his Test place given the other two specialist openers initially named in Australia's 17-man squad – David Warner (groin) and Will Pucovski (concussion) – have been ruled out.
But 2020 has repeatedly proved to be anything but regular, and Burns' inability to post a score of substance in the first phase of the Marsh Sheffield Shield as well as one-and-a-half tour games against the Indians has his tenure being questioned.
Rogers, whose initial stint as a Test opener lasted just one match with a wait of more than five years to earn a second chance, admits Burns' lean trot has paved the way for critics and potentially national selectors to question his place in Australia's starting XI for the series opener at Adelaide Oval.
"There is some pressure on him, no doubt," said Rogers, assistant coach of the Australia A outfit that saw India pile on 4-386 in a day's batting against the pink ball at the SCG yesterday.
"He's not stupid. So he has to make the most of this opportunity, that's pretty important, and then it's up to the selectors."
Having experienced the glare of public opinion as a player, and charged with helping players survive and thrive in the heat of battle as former coach of Australia's elite under-age teams and now Victoria's men's outfit, Rogers understands Burns' challenge.
"From my point of view, you can get to the point where you're just putting so much pressure on yourself," he said after day two of the day-night tour match at the SCG.
"You think you're doing everything you can, and it just doesn't seem to be going your way.
"You make one little mistake and, all of a sudden, you're back sitting in the pavilion.
"A lot of the time it's just about letting go, what will be will be.
"So just go out and do your processes, do your routines and just try and stay in the moment and watch the ball as I know our Australian coach (Justin Langer) says.
"It's a pretty simple message.
"There's probably a lot of noise in his head at the moment, but the best thing he can do is just go out and worry about the next ball."
Rogers said the same advice applied to his Victoria opener Marcus Harris, who was yesterday added to the Test squad when Pucovski was ruled out and who will accompany Burns to the middle when Australia A begin their innings later today.
Harris lost his place to Burns after a disappointing Ashes series in the UK last year (58 runs at an average of 9.7) but has worked closely with Rogers during this year's off-season to rectify technical faults in his game.
His coach believes that despite being a late inclusion in the Test squad for the pink-ball match in Adelaide, the left-hander is ready to return to the top level and – like Burns – has a chance today to shore up his place.
"I think he's definitely in a good position now," Rogers said of the 28-year-old.
"Just observing him, he looks pretty happy and content and I think the way he's going about his batting is something he's pretty pleased with.
"I still think there's more to go with his batting, it's never the finished article but he seems to be playing quite well, and transferring his weight better.
"(Today) is going to provide a really good opportunity for him to stake a claim for that first Test."
Vodafone Test Series v India 2020-21
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Sean Abbott, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner
India Test squad: Virat Kohli (c) (first Test only), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj
Second Test: December 26-30, MCG, 10.30am AEDT
Third Test: January 7-11, SCG, 10.30am AEDT
Fourth Test: January 15-19, Gabba, 11am AEDT