Joe Burns has been solid in the Sheffield Shield this season.
Joe Burns has been solid in the Sheffield Shield this season.

Bulls opener on Test team backburner

IT'S hard to find an unlucky batsman in Australia, but Joe Burns fits the bill.

When the call went out to a Queenslander to be part of the Sydney Test squad, Burns had every right to think it should have been his phone that rung.

Marnus Labuschagne is a near certainty for the SCG finale due to his ability to bowl part-time leg-spin on a pitch that's expected to turn.

But while his inclusion might improve the all-rounder position and suit the conditions, it does nothing to address the problem Australia is truly struggling with - trying to find an opening batsman.

Social media doesn't exactly explode in outrage when Burns is overlooked as it does when Glenn Maxwell is given the cold shoulder, but in reality the unassuming 29-year-old has arguably the most compelling case of all.

Burns was picked for the fourth Test in South Africa in the immediate wake of the ball-tampering fiasco, and in the midst of the war zone he topscored in the second innings with a tough 42.

However, when it came to picking an A team to go to India and trial for selection for the Test series against Pakistan, Australian selectors deemed that Burns and Maxwell were past that level - they'd seen enough - and rookies were picked in their place.

Joe Burns batting for Australia earlier this year.             / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA
Joe Burns batting for Australia earlier this year. / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

Burns hasn't dropped his bundle like some and has produced another solid first-half of the Shield season, with 472 runs at an average of 47.

Unlike others near the top of the Shield run-scorers' list, Burns opens the batting and plays half his matches at the greenest deck in the country, the Gabba.

Burns is hardly the next superstar of world cricket, but in their current predicament, Australia can't afford to ignore proven and highly functional Test-level players like him in the hunt for a silver bullet that might not exist.

Burns' made a man-of-the-match hundred on a seaming deck in New Zealand in 2016 to clinch Australia a rare overseas series win and the No.1 ranking that currently seems like a world away.

Test great Adam Gilchrist has declared Australia can't be trying to take a punt on players with a view towards the Ashes and instead need to pick for the here and now.

There are two Tests against Sri Lanka starting on the Australia Day weekend and Burns should become the easiest selection of the summer if Australia want to fortify a faltering top order.