Rory Burns is not taking a Test debut for granted despite having joined up with the squad in Sri Lanka on his first England tour.
Burns was rewarded for five seasons of consistent run-scoring in the County Championship for Surrey and being top-scorer in Division One in 2018 with the chance to fill Alastair Cook’s shoes at the top of the order.
But with so many players having failed to make the position their own and the presence of other potential openers – including Joe Denly – in the squad, he’s not assuming a spot for the first Test in Galle is already nailed down.
“Just because you get in the squad doesn’t mean you just get handed a Test opportunity, it’s about working hard for it,” Burns told Test Match Special after a net session for the Test squad members not involved in the limited-overs leg of the tour.
England are batting first against Sri Lanka in the one-off T20I between the two sides.
Joe Denly makes his first England appearance since 2010, whilst the ambidextrous Kamindu Mendis is on debut for Sri Lanka.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) October 27, 2018
“It’s about getting your skills right in practice and showcasing them in the two games ahead. I’ve tried to do my best in county cricket, churn the runs, and now I’ve been afforded an opportunity it’s up to me to take it.
“I’d be absolutely delighted to play. It’s every young boy’s dream, getting picked for a Test match.
“My old man would tell you I’ve wanted it from a very young age, from about two years old getting my brothers out in the garden.”
Burns is prepared for facing plenty of spin in conditions much unlike what he’s used to opening the batting in England, and has sought advice from Dean Elgar and Kumar Sangakkara, two of Surrey’s recent overseas players.
“Dean Elgar was our overseas player this year and I had a few chats with him after he was out here with South Africa, he said how you’ve really got to earn the chance to face a ball of seam.
“I think it’s a mindset thing in terms of game plans and technique, that’s the challenge out here.
“And I had dinner with Kumar Sangakkara the other night, discussing bits and pieces…I think he’s been trying to work for Sri Lanka, I think he’s a bit of a double agent!
“I learned a lot off him (in the) last three years at Surrey and it’s great to have a bloke like him as a sounding board.”
England have two warm-up matches for Burns to stake a claim before the first Test on November 6.