Australia v Pakistan Tests - Men
'Lock him in for the Ashes': Ponting backs Burns long term
Former Test skipper says David Warner and Joe Burns should be locked in at the top of the order until the end of the 2021-22 Ashes
Adam Burnett at the Gabba
22 November 2019, 09:42 PM AEST
Test legend Ricky Ponting insists Joe Burns should be "locked in for a couple of years" as David Warner's opening partner after the pair dominated day two of the Domain Test Series opener against Pakistan in Brisbane.
In his first Test since making 180 against Sri Lanka in February, Burns made a fluent 97 from 166 balls, sharing a 222-run opening stand with Warner to put the hosts in a commanding position at the Gabba.
The Queenslander, who missed the Ashes after his preparation was cut short due to time out of the game with a fatigue disorder, fell three runs short of what would have been a fifth hundred in just his 17th Test, and Ponting is convinced he is the ideal partner for Warner.
"He played beautifully," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"They don't need to go looking for an opener now for the next couple of years, as far as I'm concerned.
"He's made four hundreds – that would've been his fifth today – and he averages over 40. What more do you want?
"He's got that left-hand, right-hand combination (with Warner), you see the way they run between the wickets, and how much they enjoy batting with each other. There's a lot to be said for that."
The 17-Test career of Burns has come in fits and starts across the past five years, with his longest stretch in the side a nine-match sequence between November 2015 and August 2016. Throughout, the right-hander has defied the whims of form and selection to boast a Test record of 1,220 runs at 42.06, making him one of just five Australians to have tallied 1,000-plus runs at more than 40 since his December 2014 debut.
Ponting believes those credentials have earned him some selectorial faith.
"Just lock him in now, I reckon – lock him in ‘til the end of the (2021-22) Ashes and give him a good go," the 168-Test veteran said.
"He showed a lot of class today. He started nervously; those first few deliveries, he looked like a cat on a hot tin roof. But once he settled into his innings, his defence looked really solid, he played the spin well. When he had an option to hit over the top, he used his feet and did it, so he was proactive.
"The (opening) partnership is great, and if we can just shore that up in this team – Marnus looked a million dollars again today, Smith, Wade made a hundred in his last Test – all of a sudden a lot of the negativity around our batting probably goes away.
"So lock Burns in for a couple of years."
Burns won back the opening spot for the summer's opening Test amid some strong competition from the likes of Usman Khawaja, Marcus Harris and Cameron Bancroft.
In the build-up to the Gabba Test, Australia coach Justin Langer said he was encouraged by the Queenslander's strong relationship with Warner and was hopeful the pair could help establish the sort of reliable top order Australia has struggled to find.
The pair's double-century stand on Friday took their partnership aggregate to 1,064 at an average of 53.20 with five centuries.
"I obviously have some understanding of how important it is for the openers to get on really well, and work well together and understand each other," Langer said.
"One of the things we need to do is get our top three cemented and get that as strong as possible because it's a pivotal part of winning games of cricket.
"So I'm hopeful the 'odd couple' (Burns and Warner) will get out there and, like we've seen in the past, form a really good opening partnership."
Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner
Pakistan squad: Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Snr, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.
First Test: November 21-25, Gabba (Seven, Fox & Kayo)