Rory Burns has “put to bed” the disappointment of his poor Ashes showing and is eager to make a swift return to the England squad.
Described by Surrey’s head coach, Gareth Batty, as “the best opener in the country”, England’s most productive run-scorer at the top of the order since he made his debut in November 2018 struggled in Australia. He scored 77 runs from six innings and registered two ducks, including one off the first ball of the series. “Did I visualise getting a first-baller? No, I didn’t,” the Surrey captain says of his leg-side waft to Mitchell Starc that left him comprehensively bowled and set in motion England’s 4-0 defeat.
“I’ve kind of put it to bed. I had some good time off when I came home. Lots of family time. I reassessed my game and tried to work on various things from a technical aspect. Just little tweaks I could make to then go again.”
Burns did not divulge any details of the work he has put in over the winter. “There are county attacks looming around the corner,” he says as Surrey prepare for the start of the County Championship on Thursday.
However, he did admit that watching England’s tour of the West Indies from afar has given him extra impetus for a summer when England play three Tests each against New Zealand and South Africa. “I had to deal with what I’d been dealt,” he says of his omission from the Test squad. “I’m still looking to improve, still looking to get better. I think I can. I’ll go again and try to score runs.”
The 31-year-old leads a young Surrey squad with half the group under the age of 25 and though some, such as Burns, Ollie Pope, Ben Foakes and Amar Virdi, were regulars throughout the triumphant 2018 season, it is a much-changed team from the one that won 10 of their 14 matches.
“We’ve lost experience,” Burns says of Jade Dernbach and Rikki Clarke. “But it’s exciting because the lads have places to fill and opportunities to grasp.”
Hashim Amla’s return to the Oval is welcome news for Burns on two fronts. “That would make me not the oldest player in the XI,” Burns says of the 39-year-old former South Africa captain.
More importantly, the veteran of 124 Tests with more than 18,000 first-class runs faced similar challenges to Burns. Amla was prolific at domestic level but dropped from the Test team after scoring 36 runs in two home Tests against England in 2004. His unorthodox technique was blamed but rather than an overhaul, after making a few refinements he returned to the side 14 months later with 149 against New Zealand in Cape Town. Now that he has put the Ashes to bed, Burns will hope his season follows a similar storyline.