Australia team management to stick to Burns as opener for India Tests

Despite calls from various quarters and former players like Mark Taylor to draft in young Will Pucovski for the upcoming Test series against India as an opener ahead of experienced Joe Burns, Australia head coach Justin Langer on Wednesday hinted that the senior Queensland batsman remains first-choice to take on the new ball.

Langer though did say that if Pucovski plays, it could be somewhere in the middle-order. Traditionally many Australian openers have started in the middle before graduating to the top of the line-up.

“For Will, the opportunity is where it comes like for any other players. My view for the last 30 years has been that if you can bat in the top three in Shield cricket (Australia’s top domestic competition), you can bat anywhere in the order. If you are more specifically number five or six in Shield cricket then that is where you will bat in Test cricket,” said Langer.

“But if you bat in top three and you are scoring hundreds, you can literally bat anywhere. So that is where someone like Will Pucovski, who is opening the batting for Victoria and has also batted at number three for them, has got that benefit or flexibility to bat anywhere. He knows how to score hundreds and our philosophy in Test cricket is that the top six batters have to be able to score hundreds. He sets himself up nicely wherever the opportunity comes,” he added.

The Australian head coach also confirmed that the young batsman won’t play ahead of either Matthew Wade or Travis Head.

“He won’t play in front of Mathew Wade and Travis Head. All I am saying is that philosophically, and in the bigger picture, anyone who has played in top three in Shield cricket can bat anywhere. Let’s be clear about Will and one thing I have learnt being clear is that as Australia cricketer, selector you can’t win, literally can’t win (satisfy people). But I am at peace with that. If we pick one over the other, either Queensland (where Burns plays) will be upset, or Victoria (where Pucovski plays) will be upset. Half of Australia will think we’re wrong, half will thing we are right. I am at peace with that. We think highly of Pucovski, we picked him as a 19-year-old, as a 20-year-old and now we are picking him as a 21-year-old,” said Langer hinting that Pucovski, even if he doesn’t play, remains in the larger scheme of things.

“He has enormous talent, this is all part of his journey. Now his opportunity comes and he is ready to play Test cricket, I am really confident that by the time, the first few balls are bowled in Test series, it will become really clear who the top six players are. But he is a gun player, knocking hard. The opportunity will hopefully come for him at some point, whether it is in this series or in the series to come,” the 50-year-old added.

The first Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is slated to start with a pink-ball fixture at the Adelaide Oval from December 17.