Boland backs Burns to fire if selected for first Sri Lanka Test
Joe Burns (AFP Image)

Joe Burns has endured two low scores during Cricket Australia XI’s pink-ball practice match against Sri Lankans, but his teammate Scott Boland feels the opener should be picked for Australia’s first Test against Sri Lanka starting January 24.

Burns and his CA XI opening partner were drafted in Australia’s squad for the two-Test Domain series against Sri Lanka while Aaron Finch was dropped. With Marcus Harris certain to retain his opening position, one of Burns or Renshaw will be selected to partner Harris at the top. Renshaw scored 7 and 10, while Burns managed 4 and 22 in the two innings, but despite the failure, Boland believes Burns is a stronger contender of the two.

“Disappointed,” Boland said of the mood in the dressing room. “When the ball is brand new it’s the hardest time to bat and as soon as the lacquer goes off it makes it a touch easier. They’d be disappointed with how they went but I don’t think they’d be out of form.

“We played against Joe Burns in the (second) last Shield game before Christmas and he batted really well. He was the best bat we came up against in the Shield season. I’m sure if he gets picked in the Test side in the coming weeks he’ll be fine and ready to go.”

Another player who will remain in focus is allrounder Marnus Labuschagne, who played the final Test against India at the SCG. Labuschagne claimed 2 for 27 and remained unbeaten on 33 stumps on Day 2 of the day-night warm-up tie.

“He bowled really well and his energy in the field is like it always is, he’s really up and about,” Boland said. “It’s good for the team. With the bat he looked pretty solid there. Hopefully he can go and get some more runs tomorrow. If they want him to bat in the top six and bowl some overs he’ll be ready to go.

Among seamers, Boland returned the best figures of 2 for 37 as Sri Lanka declared their innings on 176/5. Dimuth Karunaratne top-scored with 44 along with an unbeaten 36 from Roshen Silva. Lahiru Thirimanne and captain Dinesh Chandimal chipped in with 32 each.

“We bowled really well and could have had two or three wickets easily there, they played and missed a fair bit,” Boland said. “This afternoon with the sun out there wasn’t really any swing or seam but the ball… it just goes soft pretty quickly. Once that happened we had to change our plans pretty quick.”