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Rory Burns couldn’t cash in again … he doesn’t seem to make it count when he comes in

Rory Burns couldn’t redeem again … he doesn’t seem to make it count when he gets in and West Indian spinner Roston Chase has his number

  • England finished day one of the third test against the West Indies on 258-4
  • Opener Rory Burns was fired after making 57 runs on 147 balls
  • Half a century has followed scores of 30, 42 and 15 in this series so far

The time was that half an century ago an English opener not called Alastair Cook would have prompted national celebration. But the bar is now raised – and when Rory Burns trudged shortly before tea on the first day of the decisive third test, he did so as a man who knew he had missed him.

Burns is still comfortable on credit after scoring more runs – 390 – in Ashes last summer than anyone else except Steve Smith and Ben Stokes.

He looks flawless, despite a technique that suggests his bat and head are pulled in different directions by invisible ropes. And he has a Test Average of 34, which is the same as Mark Butcher, just one adrift from Mike Gatting, two shortcomings from Allan Lamb and three shy from Mike Atherton.

Rory Burns walks away dejected after being caught in Roston Chase's bowling

Rory Burns walks away dejected after being caught in Roston Chase’s bowling

Not without reason, England has high hopes for a player who turns 30 next month and should be somewhere near his peak.

But Burns’ scores so far in this series have been 30, 42, 15, and now 57 – an enticing streak that feels more like promise than fulfillment. In contrast, his opening partner and former Surrey teammate Dom Sibley made his second duck in four innings on Friday, but still scored him 170 to 144.

Sibley, Burns’s junior for nearly six years, already seems to know the old opener’s wisdom better: you’ll fail against the new ball often enough, so make sure it counts as soon as you get inside.

Few cricketers are allowed to bloom in 2020 for reasons beyond their control, but for Burns, the year was especially frustrating.

Burns made his highest score of the series so far, but didn't really manage to get through again

Burns made his highest score of the series so far, but didn't really manage to get through again

Burns made his highest score of the series so far, but didn’t really manage to get through again

His last tests of 2019 were a high class 84 at Centurion against a South African attack led by Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander. Then, during a game of football on the Newlands outfield, Burns was tackled by Joe Root and landed awkwardly on his left ankle. His series was over. Thanks to Covid-19, he would only hit England again in July.

All the more reason, perhaps to cash in, although Burns ran into another issue in this series: Roston Chase’s off-spin.

Opinions are divided as to Chase’s value as a test bowler. The West Indies score him high, while England seems less convinced – he pays over 40 per wicket – but continues to reach him. And Burns is the most guilty party.

At Bridgetown in January 2019, Burns was thrown by Chase for 84 on the battle of the fourth-day lunch – the first of a now-legendary eight-wicket haul to win the West Indian series. This summer, he fell on him three times in four turns, making Chase Burns’ official Test-match nemesis and Burns Chase’s official Test-match bunny.

Chase (right) picked up Burns' wicket for the third time in four innings this summer

Chase (right) picked up Burns' wicket for the third time in four innings this summer

Chase (right) picked up Burns’ wicket for the third time in four innings this summer

His resignation here had an erratic element: Rahkeem Cornwall held out a right hand on a slip and did his best not to look as surprised as anyone else when the ball settled in his palm.

But Burns had chosen the wrong ball to cut – not wide enough, too full. That followed his layoff in the second innings in the Ageas Bowl, when he failed to pass a cut off Chase and dig with a spoon, and his layoff in the first inning last week in Manchester, when he played outside who didn’t turned.

He had relatively easily played Cornwall, the other off-spinner from the West Indies, but Chase got his man with the fifth ball he bowed in front of him, then was removed from the attack by Jason Holder with numbers of 2-1-1 – 1.

The work was done for the West Indies. The work is ahead for Burns.

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