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Cricket news - Rory Burns backs Jason Roy to succeed in Tests
Despite having known each other for 19 years, England opener Rory Burns has remarkably never opened the batting with his good friend and county teammate Jason Roy in professional cricket. That the first time he will get to do so is in a Test match at Lord's is, in Burns's understated words, a "pretty cool feeling".
After a staring role in England's World Cup victory, Roy will be making his Test debut against Ireland in the four-day Test which begins on Wednesday (July 24) while Burns will be lining up for his seventh game in the whites of England after playing on the winter's tours to Sri Lanka and West Indies.
"It's going to be good fun, it's going to be exciting," said Burns. "I've known Jase since he was 10 so to stride out in a Test match with him is a pretty cool feeling. In our school days we might have opened the batting, but very fleetingly.
"We first met playing East Surrey district cricket and then Surrey up all through the age groups. Bleach blonde hair and a massive head is how I remember him and quite an aggressive stroke player. He hasn't changed much since."
Roy has been elevated to the Test team despite not having opened much for Surrey in Championship cricket and with questions to answer about his ability to bat at the top of the order against a new red-ball. Nevertheless, chief selector Ed Smith believes now is the right time to see if the 29 year-old has the game for Test cricket given his strong form and confidence which saw him average more than 60 during the World Cup.
"Jase probably does have to tame his style slightly," said Burns. "But if he goes out and plays the way he does and makes good decisions then we've seen, particularly over the last couple of years, what a wonderful player he is. So I don't think there's any reason why he can't translate his white-ball form into the red-ball game. I think I'd be hard pushed to find another player I've played with as talented as him.
"Even growing up as a kid you saw Jason hit the ball and strike the ball and do things other kids couldn't do. Over the last couple of years you've seen him reign it in, understand his game a bit more and sort of piece it all together. Hopefully, he can keep on doing that and he can translate his white-ball form into red ball."
Burns averaged 25 over the winter, making two half-centuries and a top score of 84, but failed to go on to register the commanding innings which would have nailed his place in the side. The match against Ireland, therefore, presents him with an opportunity to do just that ahead of the Ashes series which follows.
"Like most of the guys that are coming in and in amongst it you have to try and cement a place in the side and I've done OK but not really set the world alight," Burns added. "I felt comfortable in the environment, felt comfortable with what I got put up against. I just probably didn't quite cash in and get the scores I personally would have liked.
"I've definitely got more to prove because Test cricket is a different animal at times. When you've got a start you've really got to push on and make it count."
His form for Surrey this season has been frustrating for the very reason that Burns has not been able to kick on after registering a number of starts. His last score of more than 50 was in mid-May, in the Championship against Somerset, but he has registered just eight scores between 22 and 48 in the 13 innings since then. He has not been in poor form but neither has he cashed in.
Nevertheless, Burns is hopeful that a dose of World Cup winning energy from the likes of Roy and captain Joe Root can spur the Test team on to greater heights with the prospect of an Ashes-World Cup double in their sights. "Coming into this group and seeing the excitement of all the boys, it's great to be around," he said. "Now it's us for us to reassess and push on as a Test squad."
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