Rory Burns Surrey Essex County Championship 2018
Rory Burns walks off the ground as the players break for tea at Chelmsford © Getty Images

Surrey captain Rory Burns became the first batsman to score a thousand runs in the ongoing County Championship. Burns reached the milestone en route his 90 against Essex — which happens to be Alastair Cook‘s county — at Chelmsford. Many had insisted on Burns partnering Cook in the latter’s farewell Test the dead-rubber fifth Test of the ongoing series between India and England. However, the selectors retained Keaton Jennings for the Test, which also happens to be at The Oval, Burns’s home ground.

Burns lost former England opener Mark Stoneman early, but put on 148 for the second wicket with Dean Elgar (75). Up against them was Jamie Porter, axed from the Test squad without being selected. Interestingly, Ollie Pope, who scored 21 from No. 4, has also been recalled to the squad.

Burns reached his fifty just after lunch and eventually played one on to the stumps off Peter Siddle, ten shy of what would have been his fourth hundred of the season. He currently has 1,051 runs in Division One at 65.68, 174 ahead Hampshire’s James Vince, the next name on the list.

In an interview with ESPNCricinfo, Elgar voiced his support for Burns: “I don’t see anything in him that says he can’t make it. He’s got a very good head on his shoulders. I think that’s why Surrey made him club captain for this year, and I’m sure for many years to come.

“He’s got a good temperament and he’s quite a relaxed character and obviously you need those kind of characters in Test cricket which is such a tough environment. He’s got all the attributes at the moment and he’s been scoring a lot of runs for Surrey in the last couple of seasons and that can’t go unnoticed. I can’t see any better person to fulfil those roles at the moment.

“He’s a very good senior player and it seems like his game is really taking off now. But whether he is ready for Test cricket I’m not really here to say. But he has definitely done everything to deserve a call-up. He looks solid. We’ve been team-mates in the past and his game has definitely evolved. He’s a lot older now and as we know with county batsmen you do mature a little bit later.”

Burns also found support in Alec Stewart, former England captain and Director of Cricket at Surrey, who told The Guardian: “He has scored runs aplenty in championship cricket for four or five years now, so he has earned the right.

“People will say I am biased but I look at it from a neutral point of view and, if he isn’t the replacement, then I will have a lot to say. I’d be very comfortable in recommending him to the selectors if asked and saying he is the right person to step up. You are never going to fill the shoes of Cook but Rory could at least have a good run opening the batting home and away so he can bed in and show the qualities he has shown for Surrey.”

Brief scores:

Surrey 256 for 4 (Rory Burns 90, Dean Elgar 75; Peter Siddle 2 for 66) vs Essex.