Joe Burns has been brutally axed from the Australian Test squad ahead of the New Year’s Test match against India.
Burns has copped heavy criticism following a series of low scores in first-class cricket this summer, and the national selectors have finally lost faith in the opening batsman.
On Wednesday evening, national selector Trevor Hohns confirmed the Queenslander had not been selected in Australia’s 18-player squad for the final two matches of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
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“Joe Burns has been released from the squad and will return to the Brisbane Heat,” Hohns said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, Joe’s returns haven’t been what he or the selectors would like or what we consider he is capable of.”
Burns is the only Australian batsman in the top six to have mustered a half-century in the Test series against India, but has struggled to discover any momentum with the bat since the coronavirus lockdown.
The 31-year-old has averaged 10.42 in first-class cricket this summer. His most recent scores in the sport’s longest format are 0, 4, 51*, 8, 1, 0, 0, 4, 11, 10, 0, 29 and 7.
The final straw seemingly came at the Boxing Day Test, where Burns looked all at sea against India’s classy bowling attack.
“It’s never good to see someone get released from the team due to form and Joe just hadn’t been able to find any form, any results all season – whether it’s been for Queensland or in the first couple of Tests for Australia,” former Australian wicketkeeper Gilchrist told Fox Sports News.
“Of course he picked up that half century in the small run chase in the second innings of the first Test, but it wasn’t enough and he came here to Melbourne on the back of some very, very impressive fast bowling at the top of the order for India, but that’s the opener’s job and he hasn’t been able to negotiate that.
“It’ll be really interesting now to see what the line-up is and who goes in there and opens.”
Burns has plundered four centuries in 23 Test matches, but his most recent three-figure score in Australian whites was against Sri Lanka in February 2019.
READ MORE: Selectors kill Joe Burns’ career
Opening batsmen David Warner and Will Pucovski will rejoin the squad ahead of the third Test, along with pace bowler Sean Abbott.
Warner sustained a groin injury during the one-day series against India, while Pucovski suffered concussion symptoms after he was struck in the head during a tour match against India A.
“David Warner, Will Pucovski and Sean Abbott will rejoin the squad in Melbourne tomorrow evening in preparation for the Sydney Test,” Hohns said.
“David has made strong progress in his recovery from injury and will be given every chance to play in Sydney with another seven days until the match. Sean has fully recovered from a calf strain and is also available for selection.
“Will is in the final stages of the graduated return to play protocols and has been symptom free for some time. He will be fit to play in Sydney subject to completing the return to play protocols and an independent assessment.”
The return of Warner could not have come at a better time for the Australians, who are desperate for some experience at the top of the order.
The explosive left-hander averages 66.54 with the bat at the SCG, where he has cracked four Test centuries.
AUSTRALIAN SQUAD FOR THIRD AND FOURTH TEST
Tim Paine (TAS) (c)
Pat Cummins (NSW) (vc)
Sean Abbott (NSW)
Cameron Green (WA)
Josh Hazlewood (NSW)
Marcus Harris (VIC)
Travis Head (SA)
Moises Henriques (NSW)
Marnus Labuschagne (QLD)
Nathan Lyon (NSW)
Michael Neser (QLD)
James Pattinson (VIC)
Will Pucovski (VIC)
Steve Smith (NSW)
Mitchell Starc (NSW)
Mitchell Swepson (QLD)
Matthew Wade (TAS)
David Warner (NSW)