Domain Tests v Sri Lanka
Bulls pair back amid Test shake-up
Renshaw and Burns played their most recent Test together now return for the Sri Lanka series, beginning on their home patch
9 January 2019, 01:15 PM AEST
Youngster Will Pucovski might have grabbed the biggest headlines in Australia's latest Test squad announcement, but nine months after they played their most recent match in the Baggy Green, Queensland pair Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw also have cause for celebration.
Last April, on the night they should have been savouring the Bulls' JLT Sheffield Shield triumph, both top-order batsmen were flown to South Africa as emergency replacements for the suspended trio of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft following the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town.
Burns top-scored with 42 in the second innings of a heavy defeat in Johannesburg, Renshaw missed out altogether, and despite the absence of Smith, Warner and Bancroft from the selection pool, neither has had a look-in in six Tests since. Until now, with both batsmen looking well placed for a recall on their home patch of the Gabba in the day-night Test against Sri Lanka, beginning January 24.
Burns has procured his recall via the old-fashioned route: heavy run-scoring in first-class cricket. The 29-year-old's past 10 matches in the JLT Sheffield Shield have reaped 1,073 runs at an average of 63.12 and this summer he is the competition's fifth-highest run-scorer, having passed fifty in four of his past five matches, a run that includes scores of 74, 96 and 80no.
The opening batsman has three Test hundreds to his name in 14 matches, and after being endorsed by Ricky Ponting recently as the 'next man in' to Australia's batting order, said he believed he was playing well enough to handle the demands of international cricket.
"I'm really happy with the way I'm batting," he told cricket.com.au last month. "I feel like I'm batting well enough to not just make hundreds, but really big hundreds. That hasn't happened for me yet but I feel like if I keep putting myself in the position, the big scores will come."
Renshaw, who has played 11 Tests for one hundred and three fifties, made a second-innings 89 against Western Australia in early November, but outside of that, has been well short of his best form, with 199 Shield runs at 19.90.
Selectors could be looking towards the Ashes however, with the left-hander having enjoyed a prolific six-match stint with Somerset in the UK County Championship last winter that included three hundreds. Those runs came off the back of a hot period in the Shield that included another three hundreds and catapulted him to the top of the competition's run-scorers list for the 2017-18 season.
Renshaw was expected to continue to occupy one of Australia's opening positions for the first Test against Pakistan in October, however a torrid run of injuries cost him his place.
"(Match practice was) the only thing that played against him this game," coach Justin Langer explained during that tour. "Not his ability, not his work ethic. He's done all the things so well over the last six months. And everything he has done absolutely to the letter.
"He's a terrific young player, really good in the group. I admire the way he has gone about it, he had a smile on his face the whole time and there's plenty of future for Matt Renshaw.
"Whether it comes in opening or batting No.3 or … it could come anywhere. He's a good player. I've always said if you open you can bat anywhere in the order. Time will tell."
Domain Test Series v Sri Lanka
Australia: Tim Paine (c/wk), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Will Pucovski, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (c), Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dhananjaya de Silva, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Perera, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha
CA XI: Joe Burns (c), Kurtis Patterson (vc), Scott Boland, Jake Doran (wk), Jon Holland, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Will Pucovski, Jason Sangha, Matt Renshaw, Chris Tremain
Jan 17-19: Tour match, CA XI v SL, Hobart (D/N)
Jan 24-28: First Test, Gabba (D/N)
Feb 1-5: Second Test, Canberra