Marnus Labuschagne (left) and Joe Burns shared an 87-run partnership on day three.
Marnus Labuschagne (left) and Joe Burns shared an 87-run partnership on day three.

Craddock: Burns deserves to make it sixth-time lucky

Only a few months ago Joe Burns tried to look Marnus Labuschagne in the eye but just couldn't.

It was in the trial match between two Australian teams in England before the Ashes squad was chosen and the stakes had never been higher.

 

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Burns was placed in a fielding position deemed a decent chance of getting Labuschagne out caught and felt terrible about it.

"It was such a weird feeling because I had played with him for his whole career and every ball he had faced until then I wanted him to make runs and do well,'' Burns said.

"I remember thinking, 'it would absolutely break me if he hits me a catch and he has to walk off'.''

Joe Burns fends at a short ball from Tim Southee and is caught in gully.
Joe Burns fends at a short ball from Tim Southee and is caught in gully.

Labuschagne made runs and soared off into a new stratosphere, Burns missed out and missed the squad.

Yet there they were in Perth on Saturday night raising half-centuries within a few overs of each other before both lost their wickets soon after.

They even shared a television interview at drinks where Burns quipped that the reason Labuschagne was eating a lolly snake was that the young pups need their sugar intake.

For his last couple of innings Burns has had to sit in the dressing room and watch Labuschagne play as if he was immune to getting out.

Life has seemed so much harder at the crease for Burns than Labuschagne - he's not Robinson Crusoe there - but his 97 in Brisbane against Pakistan guaranteed Burns' selection for the Test summer so for the first time in a career in which he has been dropped five times Burns is assured of playing the summer.

When Burns bunted a ball into the turf early last night and it bounced just over the stumps - as close a call as it was - it was a sign that maybe his luck had turned and to an extent it did.

But when Burns left the field after being squared up by a short ball from Tim Southee and bunting to gully for 53 he still had the rueful expression of a man leaving with his job half done.

Still, it was progress of sorts.

There are times Burns appears a nervous starter, but when your Test career has stopped and started so many times there is that sense that every Test could be your last.

Marnus Labuschagne (left) and Joe Burns shared an 87-run partnership on day three.
Marnus Labuschagne (left) and Joe Burns shared an 87-run partnership on day three.

Burns has seen some harrowing moments in Test cricket. He was one of five players sacked in Hobart after a huge Test loss against South Africa.

He was rushed into the Test team after the ball tampering saga in South Africa, scored a dignified 42 before being dropped again.

It hasn't been an easy ride but if he can keep his Test average hovering around 40 he will be a hard man to drop in an era where many of his rivals are struggling to average that figure at Sheffield Shield level, never mind in the Test arena.

Joe Burns carves a ball through the off side during his half-century.
Joe Burns carves a ball through the off side during his half-century.

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