Capacity To Absorb A Significant Pressure Against Gabriel And Co: Burns > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Ability to absorb pressure important against Gabriel and Co: Burns
There were not many bright spots for England in their heavy loss at Kensington Oval but the runs of Rory Burns in the second innings was certainly one. The opening partnership has been a perennial issue and with Alastair Cook's retirement at the end of last summer, it has become even more acute. Any batsman who shows a semblance of being up to the task raises the hope that maybe - just maybe - England have found one of their missing ingredients.
There has been hope before of course. Sam Robson and Adam Lyth scored Test centuries during their stints at the top of the order while Keaton Jennings, Burns' current opening partner, has made two hundreds, the last as recently as four Tests ago in Galle. Yet only two of the 14 opening batsman who have been tried by England in the last five years have averaged more than 40: Cook and captain Joe Root, who did the job just once in Mohali in 2016.
Which makes Burns' innings of 84 in Barbados, his highest score to date at Test level, potentially significant. Since his introduction to the side on the tour of Sri Lanka, Burns has looked the part without delivering the big score that he and England want. That still eludes him but his performance in Bridgetown, when England were up against it, suggests that it might not be too long before he gets there.
"I was pleased with how I played, but also disappointed to miss out on a century, from a selfish point of view," Burns said. In the first innings in Barbados, Surrey's captain was becalmed, scoring just two runs off 26 deliveries before playing on, somewhat unluckily, against Kemar Roach. But in the second dig, Burns was far more positive, hitting 15 boundaries. It was a change of approach that he had wanted to make.
"In between the first and second innings I made a slight alteration in between my own ears of how I was going about it," he said. "With the tempo I played at, and the sort of pressure I managed to transfer, I thought I played quite nicely.
"It's about being able to absorb a lot of pressure. They bowled very well first innings. I was out there for 25 balls and I can't remember getting one to hit, really. Sometimes you've got to absorb that pressure and counteract it. When you do that, you get bad balls and you can put them away."
Burns has experienced two very different varieties of Test cricket in his four matches so far. In Sri Lanka, spin played a huge role, almost from the get-go in each innings, while in Barbados, the pace and aggression of West Indies' attack gave England the hurry up. These are the sort of varied challenges Test batsmen have to combat if they are to be successful.
Arguably, they are also the sort of challenges which county cricket needs to do a better job at preparing batsmen for. "It's obviously different to county cricket," Burns said. "You don't have too many 90mph bowlers floating around. At the same time, you have come across guys that bowl that speed and have dealt with it in the past. It was just a reminder that it is quick and it can be hostile at times.
"[Shannon Gabriel is] the quickest out of their four. It can be uncomfortable. He's actually quite skilful and doesn't give you that many balls to hit. You want to wear him down, keep him bowling, and you want them to use him as a sort of enforcer, the one pushing their attack, and trying to make it uncomfortable."
There will have been some uncomfortable conversations for England since the first Test defeat and some players, including Jennings, who had a poor game in Barbados and averages just 26 from 16 matches, will be feeling uncertain about their places. The tourists have little time to pick themselves up, mind you. There is a series still to be won. "Finishing the Test there was obviously disappointment that we hadn't performed as well as we wanted to," Burns told Sky Sports.
"But leaving the ground it was, 'how do we respond? How do we come back from that?' and almost to use it as a lesson and something to build on, placing a higher value on your wicket and transfer pressure back onto bowlers if they bowl well.
"There are a few meetings before and after (the match) where we'll talk about these things and how we get better and how we keep improving. It's a bit of a blip but how do we take that forward? How do we use that as a lesson and improve?"
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