Rory Burns says he is “a decent player” of slow bowling as he prepares for a “trial by spin” on his debut Test tour of Sri Lanka.
“For me personally, it’s been a lot of hard work,” Burns told Sky Sports ahead of Surrey’s County Championship clash against Essex at The Oval, where the champions were bowled out for 67 on the opening morning. “I’ve tried to let my bat do the talking and churn out runs, and it’s satisfying to get the nod in the end and get the opportunity.
“I’ve obviously got five seasons of backing in my own head. I’ve got some self-belief, so you’ve got to trust your method and trust the processes that you go through.”
Burns revealed how the joyful moment when Ed Smith informed him of his selection was interrupted.
“Ed Smith rung me last week after the Somerset game, but it actually cut out halfway through,” he said. “He started to tell me I’d got the nod, but it cut out so I had to run outside quickly and find some phone signal, and give him a call back.”
Burns has made his case through consistent runs opening the batting against seam bowlers in English conditions. But he knows a very different challenge awaits him in Sri Lanka, a country his Surrey teammate Dean Elgar toured earlier this year.
“I’m a decent player of spin, I’ve got a few options that I try to work my way through, but he [Elgar] just got back from Sri Lanka, and said he didn’t face a ball of seam,” said Burns. “So it’ll be trial by spin and it’ll be interesting to see how I’ll go.”
On his approach to facing slow bowlers, Burns said: “I think it’s about clarity in your method. You need to understand what you do well, what your options are at certain times. It’s no different from going from seam to spin, there are different methods to both and you’ve got to cycle through them.”
Burns also addressed the issue of his unusual method; a busy, twitchy technique that sees him not towards mid-on during the bowler’s approach to the crease.
“My method is slightly unorthodox,” he admitted. “There’s some nuances to it, let’s put it that way. I got told I was left-eye dominant, so that [head-twitch to mid-on] is about me trying to get my left eye on the ball as much as I can. Then it almost became a rhythm thing in terms of little routines at the crease. That’s how that came about.”