Joe Burns plays down competition with Queensland teammate Matthew Renshaw
Joe Burns (R) and Matthew Renshaw. (Image: Cricket Australia)

Australia batsman Joe Burns is keen to once again don the Baggy Green but asserts it won’t come at the expense of any rivalry with Queensland teammate Matthew Renshaw. Both Burns and Renshaw are part of Australia’s squad for two-match Domain Test series against Sri Lanka starting January 24, and while both batsmen will be eager to make it to the Playing XI, Burns states that he doesn’t see Renshaw as competition for a place in the Playing XI.

“I’ve never seen myself as competing with Renners. It’s just a matter of how we get the job done for Queensland,” Burns said. (ALSO READ: Burns, Renshaw recalled for Sri Lanka Tests)

“You’re just happy to see your teammates going well. Hopefully we can both get the opportunity, but I’m not sure about the final make-up of the team, obviously. I’m not sure about a bat off. The make-up of the team suggests that would be the case. But for me it’s just a chance to play a long-form game and get stuck in against the pink ball.”

Australia play a three-day Pink ball practice game in which Burns and Renshaw likely to open the innings. With Aaron Finch left out, one of the two will partner Marcus Harris at the top, while the with the likes of Usman Khawaja, Travis Head and Peter Handscomb to follow. If the numbers are any indication, Burns, CA XI captain has fared better than Renshaw, averaging over 47 with two half-centuries and 472 runs in the Sheffield Shield. Renshaw meanwhile, has scored 199 runs at 19.90, with one half-century.

“It’s always a tricky talking point. We had the opportunity to play six Shield games back-to-back which as a player you really appreciate. I know a lot has been made that guys haven’t been playing long-form cricket but you don’t lose your skills overnight. Games like this serve a really valuable purpose. In an ideal world we are coming out of a few long format games but reality you can’t always have them on when there are three formats,” said Burns.

Besides Burns and Renshaw, Australia have also handed young Victorian batsman Will Pucovski his maiden international call-up. Pucovski, 20, made heads turn during his knock of 243 against Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield in October last year – his second First-Class hundred, but took a six-week break from cricket following mental health conditions. He however returned to play one more Shield game scoring 67 against the same opponents. Prior to it, he had scores of 188 against Queensland in February to go with sizeable contributions in Under-23 tournaments.

Burns has played 14 Tests, the last of which came against in Johannesburg last year – the game after the ball-tampering scandal. Burns had scores of 96 and an unbeaten 80 in the Sheffield Shield and is averaging 47.20 with 472 runs including four fifties. And then there is Renshaw, who has dropped ahead of the last Ashes. In 11 Tests, Renshaw has three fifties and one century but his batting against spinners has garnered a lot of positive attention, evident from the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2017, and his can be a handy inclusion considering the impact of spinners in the Sri Lankan line-up.

“Everyone who gets selected for Australia is a really, really good player. You don’t even get a job in professional cricket at state level without being an excellent player. All the guys who get opportunities are very talented, sometimes it can be a simple judgement call from selectors. It’s just the way the game is with the three formats, players coming in and out of competitions all around the world, it’s very hard to throw a blanket over a group of players and compare them all evenly,” Burns said.