Ian Chappell has expressed his bewilderment over the Australian coach and captain’s public backing of Joe Burns and has claimed that it’s time for the Aussies to blood in the ‘ready’ Will Pucovski. Chappell further believes the quarantine period will help India acclimatize to the conditions.
Australia heading into a home summer with selection headaches is not a rarity, but seldom has there been such conflicting opinions vis-à-vis who should get the nod. Incumbent Joe Burns and rising star Will Pucovski have found themselves in a dogfight of sorts, for the seemingly vacant opening slot, and while fans and experts alike have been crying their hearts out and urging the management to put their faith in the Victorian youngster, the Australian coach and captain have, thus far, begged to differ. Both captain Tim Paine and coach Justin Langer have publicly expressed their support for Burns, who has come under fire due to his hideous Sheffield Shield form, and have, time and again, emphasized the value of incumbency and the need to keep combinations intact.
These comments have, however, not gone down too well with former Australian skipper Ian Chappell. In his column for ESPN Cricinfo, Chappell expressed disbelief over Australia’s backing of Burns, who he believes has bang-average numbers, and urged the selectors to reward the form of Pucovski, who he feels is now ready for the international stage.
“Speaking of confusion, I was flummoxed by the Australian coach's summation of the choice between incumbent Joe Burns and rising star Will Pucovski for the job of David Warner's opening partner. In response I'd say that equally, you shouldn't overestimate the value of the partnership. Burns' contributions last summer equated to an aggregate of 256 runs at an average of 32 with two half-centuries. That is the performance of a below-average Test player,” Chappell wrote in his ESPNCricinfo column.
“If no one else is vying for the position then Burns retains his place. However, Pucovski has been banging on the door for a while now - something Langer craves. Pucovski has taken a sledgehammer to the entryway by making six centuries at Shield level, three of them doubles; two of those double-hundreds came this season. He has well and truly proved he is good enough at that level, so it's time to see if he can succeed in the Test arena.”
There might be little clarity as to who might open for the Aussies, alongside Warner, but the visiting Indian side know exactly what they need to topple the hosts, having done the same a couple of years ago. This time around the tourists will have ample time to prepare and get acclimatized to the conditions, thanks to the mandatory 14-day quarantine in place, and Chappell feels that this extra time could prove to be invaluable to the visitors. The 77-year-old insisted that it’s imperative that the Indians make the utmost use of the time they have at their disposal.
“India's enforced period of lockdown - with training allowed - will provide the team more time to acclimatise in Australian conditions than the rushed pre-Test schedule that touring teams normally experience.
“The extra training period during lockdown gives the bowlers ample opportunity to work out what length is applicable in Australia, and for the batsmen to become accustomed to the unusually steep bounce. A lot of touring batsmen have trouble in scoring sufficient runs off the back foot in Australia.
“It is not enough to just survive against short-pitched bowling in Australia, you also have to be able to score off those deliveries. Until a batsman proves he can make runs regularly against that style of attack, he will continue to be peppered with short stuff.”