David Warner has depicted Joe Burns as his most effective opening partner since Chris Rogers, while conceding that the Australian selectors will ultimately have the final say over whether he is partnered by the Queensland batsman or the rising star of Victoria’s Will Pucovski.
The selection chairman Trevor Hohns made an extraordinary admission when announcing the Test squad, stating that Warner would be given a say in the choice of the opening combination after he and Burns provided a strong platform for the Test team last summer, following plenty of top-order misadventures during the 2019 Ashes series.
Hohns’ words in turn made Warner’s still more significant than usual, and while he couched his views with the usual caveats about the selectors, he left little doubt that he felt Burns was good value for his spot, particularly in terms of how the pair have complemented each other as players in a way he had not experienced since Rogers retired in 2015. Warner and Rogers opened together in 41 innings between 2013 and 2015, averaging 51.32 with nine century stands; Warner and Burns average 50.55 from 27 stands including six century partnerships.
“I know you guys would like an answer. For me to be honest I’ve had over a dozen opening partners and it’s never been quite stable. I think they gave me the opportunity to ask me who I feel comfortable with, and when I was batting with Rogers we had a great partnership and…we bonded really well together out in the middle,” Warner said. “I think with me and Joe, we’ve done that over the past few years.
“I’ve known Joe for a long time, we’ve played out in the middle together, we know each other’s game very well, but it’s upon the selectors to pick the right person to fit that position. If they go the way of Will, he’s batting fantastic, he’s been in and out of the Test squad and he removed himself with some sad times with his mental stuff. So for him he’s in the right frame of mind at the moment, it probably is an opportunity for him to come into the team.
“But as we know it’s harder to get out of this team than get in, so whoever they go with, I’ll be well and truly happy with, as long as the person who comes in does their job. At the moment I didn’t think Joe did anything wrong last summer, we put on some great partnerships, averaged over 60 and that’s what you want from your opening partnership. It’s upon the selectors to pick their team and I’ve got to be happy with that and embrace it.”
Reflecting on how he and Burns had gelled, Warner said that their ability to start with a long partnership together in the first Test of the summer against Pakistan in Brisbane, after Warner’s personal hell during the 2019 Ashes, had further reinforced what was already a strong relationship.
“I haven’t spoken to Cracker [Hohns] yet, no, if they come to me and ask me, I’ll speak honestly,” Warner said. “But with me and Joe we’re good friends off the field as well, so having that support when you’re out there, I know last year we were both quite nervous when we were going into that first Test and then for him coming back into that team, not getting the opportunity in England, there’s a few nerves that float around.
“But we obviously know how to get off strike with each other, but that’s just normally what you do anyway as a cricketer – if Will’s there he’s not going to do anything different. So it’s about building that bond and relationship and we’re the two that go out there together all the time when we face up, so you’ve got to have that bond and partnership.”