Joe Burns can cement his place as a Test opener for the next year by making a century at the SCG on Monday, former Australian captain Mark Taylor says.
Burns made 97 in his first innings of the summer against Pakistan but has since scored just one half-century and is yet to add to his four Test centuries.
The ongoing match against New Zealand at the SCG is the 21st Test of his career, yet the Queenslander’s future in the Australian team is still uncertain.
Taylor told Wide World of Sports that Burns, 30, could change his fate with a ton in the final Test of the home campaign. He will resume on 16 not out, with David Warner unbeaten on 23 as Australia builds an unassailable lead.
“I think Joe Burns could cement his place in the side for the whole of 2020 with a century [today],” said Taylor, a 104-Test opening batsman for Australia.
“Australia don’t play much Test cricket over the next 12 months, so it’s a big day for him coming up. Watching Joe [last] night, he looked nervous, because I think it is an important innings for him.
“He started the summer well and has one other contribution of a 50 and that’s been it, so I’m sure he would love a big score [today] just to say to the selectors that I am the man for the top of the order.
“Australia maybe have a couple of Test matches coming up against Bangladesh, I know they were trying to get a series done there, so apart from that there’s no other Test matches until November of next year.
“It’s a long time now between Test matches in this country, so he could do with a big score just to cement his position.”
Burns is averaging 26.20 in the New Zealand series, with 131 runs from six innings and a best score of 53. His career average is 38.85.
The scarcity of Test cricket means that a handful of players face a nervous 2020.
Matthew Wade has a top score of 38 against New Zealand this series, having recorded a best of 60 against Pakistan. Travis Head had a lean start against Pakistan but has since made a century and a half-century against the Black Caps.
Australia attempted to select young gun Will Pucovski at the start of this summer, only for him to decline due to mental health issues, while Kurtis Patterson still looms large after making a century in one of his two Tests thus far.
Any Australian batsman who enters the next home summer without their Test spot cemented may fall victim to generational change. Burns beat the younger Marcus Harris (27) to an opener’s spot this summer.
Wade and Head may get a limited opportunity to improve their standing at the SCG, with Australia leading by 243 runs with 10 wickets remaining heading into day four. New Zealand made just 251 in their first innings.