‘It’s going to be fun and exciting’: Rory Burns thrilled to be opening batting for England against Ireland with former schoolfriend Jason Roy and insists Surrey team-mate can take World Cup form into the Test arena
- Rory Burns will opening the batting for England against Ireland with Jason Roy
- The pair met while at Whitgift School and are also team-mates at Surrey
- Burns backed World Cup winner Roy to transfer white-ball form to Test cricket
Rory Burns remembers meeting a boy at school in Surrey with ‘beach blonde hair and a massive head.’
Now he will open the batting for England with him in Test cricket at Lord’s on Wednesday against Ireland.
‘He was also an aggressive stroke maker,’ said Burns of the boy in question Jason Roy.
Rory Burns L) believes Surrey team-mate Jason Roy (R) can thrive for England at Test level
Surrey team-mate Roy is a key part of the one-day England side that won the Cricket World Cup
‘So he hasn’t changed much. I’ve known Jason since he was 10 so to stride out in a Test with him will be a cool feeling. It’s going to be fun and exciting.’
The Whitgift School friends and Surrey team-mates will, remarkably, be opening together for the first time in professional cricket when they become the latest pairing to take on the poisoned chalice of facing the new red ball for England.
Roy is the great unknown, the destructive white-ball batsman and World Cup hero who will be let loose on the longest form of the game with very little first-class pedigree but with a proven big-match temperament and huge natural ability.
Surrey captain Burns admitted that Roy may have to adjust his style a little against Australia
‘Jase probably does have to tame his style slightly,’ admitted his county captain Burns. ‘But if he goes out and plays the way he does and makes good decisions then we’ve seen, particularly over the last couple of years, what a wonderful player he is.
‘So I don’t think there’s any reason why he can’t translate his white-ball form into the red-ball game. I think I’d be hard pushed to find another player I’ve played with as talented as him. Even growing up as a kid you saw Jase strike the ball and do things other kids couldn’t. Over the last couple of years you’ve seen him reign it in, understand his game a bit more and sort of piece it all together. Hopefully he can keep on doing that.’
Burns has played six Tests for England and scored two half-centuries but needs to seal his spot
Burns, after six overseas Tests as Alastair Cook’s replacement in Sri Lanka and West Indies last winter, has if anything more to prove than Roy in a four-day Test against the Irish that is essentially red-ball practice for the bigger Ashes battles that follow.
The pair will definitely play against Mitchell Starc and company in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston on August 1 but will be so much better placed to do so if they have a Test century apiece under their belts from this unique Lord’s occasion.
Burns, 28, made two half centuries in his six Tests and has looked the part in many ways but he averages just 25 and found some unusual and slightly soft ways of getting out, not least when on 84 and in sight of a maiden century in Barbados.
‘I haven’t set the world alight,’ admitted Burns. ‘I’ve done okay but Test cricket is a different beast. I felt comfortable in the environment and what I was put up against. I just haven’t quite cashed in and got the scores I would have liked. Why haven’t I got a hundred? I missed one off Roston Chase (West Indies unlikely off-spinning hero) in Barbados! And I haven’t scored the runs I need to cement my place yet. That’s my next challenge.’
Burns was dismissed for 84 against West Indies by Roston Chase chasing maiden Test century
That challenge begins against an Irish attack led by ‘local boy’ Tim Murtagh of Middlesex who knows Lord’s like the back of his hand and was yesterday seen almost licking his lips in anticipation at a pitch that, two days out, was as green as the emerald isle.
‘He’s a wily bowler isn’t he? He’s always there stump to stump asking questions and with the red ball he’s always going to be in business,’ said Burns of Murtagh and then revealed that he just might have been lining up in the opposing dressing room.
‘I’m actually a quarter Irish (his paternal grandfather) so I always keep an eye on the Irish boys and how they’re going,’ said Burns. ‘This is a great occasion for them and cricket. I thought when Fordy (Ireland and former Surrey coach Graham Ford) took over I might have had an approach but there’s never been anything formal.’
Now Burns has to go out and prove he is deserving of his England place.