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Burns remains favourite in race for opening spot

Victorian young gun Will Pucovski is no certainty to receive a Baggy Green this summer, with national coach Justin Langer conceding Joe Burns remains the favourite to open the batting in the Test side.Pucovski forced his way into the 17-man Test squad after compiling consecutive double-centuries in the Sheffield Shield this summer.Despite missing the opening…

Victorian young gun Will Pucovski is no certainty to receive a Baggy Green this summer, with national coach Justin Langer conceding Joe Burns remains the favourite to open the batting in the Test side.

Pucovski forced his way into the 17-man Test squad after compiling consecutive double-centuries in the Sheffield Shield this summer.

Despite missing the opening two rounds of the competition, the 22-year-old currently sits as the 2020/21 tournament’s highest run-scorer, with 495 runs in three innings.

Meanwhile, incumbent opening batsman Burns has failed to impress national selectors this season, mustering 57 runs in five innings with an average of 11.40 with the bat.

However, the Queenslander looks set to retain his spot alongside David Warner in the Test side, with Langer hinting there will be an unchanged XI for the first match against India at Adelaide Oval.

Burns boasts a formidable record with Warner in the five-day format, the pair averaging 50.56 together at the crease. Meanwhile, Pucovski has only opened the batting twice in his first-class career, previously renowned as a middle-order player.

“Will Pucovski is doing everything that’s humanly possible to play that first Test, and that’s something we have to weigh up,” Langer said on Friday.

“We went through a period where there was lots of ins and outs, and in my view, we should back the guys in there. That can change, but it’s a pretty strong philosophy to stick to.

“Last time we played Test cricket, we loved the combination of Joe Burns and David Warner. They’ve got a real synergy, they work well together, so at this point I’d say that’ll remain the same.”

Pucovski and Burns were both named in the Australia A squad to face the touring Indians in early December, setting up an old-fashioned bat off.

But chief selector Trevor Hohns said Warner would be consulted about who he wants to see at the other end of the pitch this summer.

“Of course, we talk to David. He is a very senior player,” Hohns said.

“He is very experienced and it’s important that he is comfortable too, providing we are, of course, with the person he opens with.

“It goes a long way in forming an opening partnership — you have to be comfortable with your partner. We certainly do consult players on such issues.”

Former Australian captain Mark Taylor was bemused by the confession, arguing Warner’s input would not be worthwhile.

“I’ve heard the story that David and Joe like to bat together, and that tends to happen with most opening partnerships,” Taylor told Wide World of Sports.

“I enjoyed batting with all the opening partners I had for Australia and New South Wales.

“So, I don’t really know what they’ll achieve by asking David Warner about Joe Burns. I’m sure David will be very positive about Joe, it would surprise me if he wasn’t. I don’t think they’ll learn anything new.”

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