Former Australian coach Darren Lehmann says Joe Burns should play in next month’s first Test against India but admits Will Pucovski’s sizzling form is hard to overlook.
Burns and Pucovski are vying to partner David Warner at the top of Australia’s order in the Adelaide Oval Test starting on December 17.
Queenslander Burns is the incumbent and averages more the 40 in Test cricket but has scored just 57 runs in five Sheffield Shield innings this season.
In contrast, Victorian young gun Pucovski has amassed 495 runs in just three innings, two of which have been double centuries.
With both players having been named in Australia’s Test squad as well as the Australia “A” squad for pre-Test series games against India, Lehmann said it could come down to a “shootout” between the pair.
“Pucovski’s made two 200s. If he makes another one in a lead-up game then there’s pressure on (Burns),” Lehmann said.
Lehmann believes Burns – who he coaches at BBL level with Brisbane Heat – has the inside running for Test selection because of his successful union with Warner in recent years.
“Pucovski’s been in outstanding form, but the Warner-Burns partnership’s pretty good. It’s been pretty impressive over the last couple of years,” he said.
“It’s pretty important when you’re setting the tone in a Test match, and I know Davey and Joe get on really well.
“I’d probably start with Burns. You’d love him to make more runs obviously. If he’d made a hundred we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.
“That’s for Joe to make some runs. I’m sure he’ll play well in the Australia A games.”
Test players in the Australia A squad will play one of the two warm-up matches against India.
“You’ve still got a bit of a shootout with Burns, Pucovski and those guys playing in the Australia A set-up, but I’d start with Burns,” said Lehmann, who added that Australian coach Justin Langer had “already alluded to that”.
“I think they’ll probably start that way,” he said.