Fresh from getting back into the Australian Test side and recently being awarded with a national contract, Queensland and Australian opener Joe Burns took questions in an online video interview. Here's the interview in full.
How do you reflect back on the last few Test matches you played?
Burns: From the team’s perspective, a really satisfying summer for us. The way we came together, we played as a team, as a group of individuals as well was really satisfying. Personally, I reflect on that, I feel like I’ve batted pretty well throughout the summer and left a lot of runs out there. As an opening batter, you get through the first hour, the first session and they are the times you set yourself to go on and get some really big scores. Unfortunately I didn’t go on and get too many really big ones, but I felt like did my role pretty well. I felt I was batting really well as well. The satisfying thing for me was to go back to Queensland once the Test series finished and I guess to get the rewards there by going on and getting those bigger scores. That kind of confirms me that I was in a really good spot with my batting and looking forward to the next season now and hopefully continuing that. If I am in that sort of form in those positions, where you get through the first hour, you get to lunch on day one, you are in a position to go on and get a big hundred and really drive the game as an opening batsman.
What sort of challenge will the Indian Test attack pose to you?
It’s super exciting. They’re obviously a world-class team. I think the two teams going at it will be exciting for everyone to watch. For players to play against each other as well. You look at the world rankings – they were No. 1 and we’ve gone to No. 1 – so I know that that series will be highly anticipated by everyone. As a player those are the sort of series you want to play in and do well in.
How did you manage yourself this summer compared to previous summer when you were out due to fatigue disorder?
I certainly managed myself a lot differently this summer. I was in a really good spot physically. I guess this forced lay-off now for everyone provides the opportunity just to really get yourself right, reset and start preparing physically for next summer. Probably the longest off-season any of us would have had for a long time. So, from a physical perspective, it gives the opportunity for us to be really in a strong position and in the back of our minds we know that once we do start playing again, it’s going to be pretty much non-stop looking at the calendar. I think that’s the silver lining to the forced lay-off that we have at the moment.
Reaction on Sheffield Shield potentially being scrapped as a cost-cutting measure
I think those sorts of changes do go through the ACA. So, the players are consulted on those things. For me, I love the fact that we’ve got a really strong first-class system. The 10 games, where we play everyone twice is really a good competition. It leads to world-class players coming into Test teams. I think you don’t want to see that get changed or adjustments made to that but it’s pretty unique circumstances at the moment so there’s a lot of things to work through. Speaking purely as a player, I love the fact that it is 10 rounds and let the teams go at it.
No saliva on the ball, no big celebration with team-mates once the game resumes. How do you see that?
It’s probably a little bit too early to really comprehend how they would work into the game. Realistically, if we are approved to go back and play, it’s going to be hard to avoid body contact and body fluids being around each other. You look to the footy coach who have a lot more contact with each other. The fact that they’re going to be tackling each other, sweating, all that stuff. It’s a really hard thing to maintain. In terms of using saliva to shine the ball, I think the product that we’re putting out there, we still want to be a really entertaining product to the fans. Whether it’s saliva or not we do need something that helps the ball swing just so that the fans are getting entertained and watching something that is good to watch. There are lot of things to work through, but I think the benefit for cricket is we’re probably not the sport that has to move first on that, and we can sit back and see how the winter codes handle different situations, and make some decisions after that. I understand if we were to play a game tomorrow, you probably don’t want to be putting saliva on the ball. But it is a long time and there’s a lot of things to pass before we get back out on the cricket field, so we’ll wait and see what happens.
How do you decide who bats where and what is the relationship between all of you (Labuschagne and Khawaja) with the competitive tension?
The relationship between us – I get asked this question a lot – I don’t think we’ve ever thought about like competing with each other for spots. For us it’s about going out there trying to make runs to win games for Queensland and we really enjoy the challenge of working together. It’s a great benefit to able to talk about the game, learn about the game together and have success together. In terms of the batting order, it will be up to Uzzie (Usman Khawaja) as captain. Last year we finished the season with myself and (Bryce) Street opening, Marnus (Labuschagne) at three, Usman at four and we were doing quite well with that batting order. It’ll just be who’s available and what we think will be the best team to win games on the day.
How do you reflect on you Test career so far?
It has been a hell of a ride. You speak to so many players. When you play your first Test it’s always such a surreal feeling. To be sitting here five years on, having played 21 Tests, it’s a really special feeling. Had some amazing memories and achieved some great things with the teams that I’ve played in. It’s been a lot of fun, that’s the way to sum it up thus far. I guess once you get a taste for it, you want to get back in day in, day out, get the work in and enjoy those moments over and over because it’s a really special time in your life. Unfortunately it has to end for all of us one day, but you just try and ride it out as best as you can.
How do India vary from other teams?
I look at Australia and India having two incredibly strong bowling attacks and that’s going to be so exciting to watch the teams go at it. As an opening batter, it's so exciting for myself. There's going to be a huge challenge this summer and a big role to play in nullifying the Indian bowlers, especially early in a Test match. Morning of day one with the new ball is so exciting, there’s so much anticipation going into that series and to watch so many world-class players lock horns and go at it. Both teams will have a lot to play for, with the No. 1 ranking and the position on the World Test Championships and that’s what’s motivating us at the moment in terms of all the training we’ve been doing with an eye looking forward to a huge summer against the Indian cricket team.
There’s talk that the Shield will be 8 rounds this year. Are you worried if that’s the case it may never go back to 10 rounds again?
No, I'm not. I think, realistically, you look at next summer as a really unique kind of circumstances that's going on. I think any changes that are made with a view to, I guess, trying to nullify the risks involve around the financials of the game. We navigate through next season. I think once the financials is really in a strong position, there's going to be no need to start making adjustments to save on costs. There is a lot of good people involved in Cricket Australia and in the ACA working through this at the moment. So I think we'll leave it to those people to navigate all this through this.
Just wondering where you stand now on playing county cricket. We all know, of course, what happened last year. It seems like you've moved on from that. But how would you look at it in the future? Would you be wary of signing up for it as it is maybe a little bit too much?
But in terms of the county stuff, I think from year to year players want to play as much cricket as possible. The calendars and the schedules kind of dictate our availability a lot of the time. So it's hard to say at this stage. Obviously, if this large breaks in our schedule, then the opportunity to play county cricket always fantastic to get over there and play as much as possible. So I think we should just wait and see at this stage.
It was not something you're ruling out or ruling in necessarily. But did you feel it's good for your cricket, to get over there and play in those conditions pretty regularly?
Absolutely. I think you see year in, year out, the amount of players that want to get out there and play county cricket, Marnus Labuschagne's a great example of the way he went to Glamorgan and made so many runs and then stepped into the Ashes and did so well. So there's so many benefits for the players, especially now with The Hundred coming into it as well, a 4th format in England. So there's a lot of opportunities for players to get over there and get into some high quality cricket.
If any county has made contact with you about a future contract?
No, I have got some other things on my mind at the moment with everything going on. For me personally, I was just planning to use this winter just to get myself ready for the challenges of the international summer coming up next season.
What are your expectations of facing Bumrah now as opposed to perhaps a few years ago?
I've actually never faced Bumrah, so I think he's obviously shown the world how good a bowler he is. And they're the sorts of guys that excite you as an opposition player to play against. I know that match up during the summer will be really important for us as a team and for me personally to prepare really well for him as a bowler. And I'm just looking forward to that challenge.
There's a lot of uncertainty over what's going to happen with players payments and that kind of thing. Just wondering would you like to get some more information about what's going on with things and whether you're obviously prepared to take a hit for the team, despite, you know, all the issues that we've had with coronavirus and the uncertainty of the game?
Yeah, I think it's important to acknowledge the fact that it is pretty tough and pretty unique financial times for all sorts of business, but also for Cricket Australia. I'm sure that they've got a lot of people across the board working really closely on this and to work really closely with the ACA and the people that we've got involved in the ACA to get to a position that we can just get out there and play the best cricket possible. As you know, we've got the revenue share model, which means that, you know, we're really close partners in the game. So as income or as revenue kind of slides up and down, our pay will be adjusted on the fly to reciprocate movements in the health of the game financially. And I think that's really reasonable and fair model. It takes into account situations like this where if there are to be financial hits, then the players who obviously can't move with that and to take a financial hit. I don't believe that we've been asked to take a further financial cut at this stage. I think that simply because the model that we've got is a really strong model and the mechanisms that kind of hardwired into that in terms of revenue. I think a lot of the discussion has been around the cost model, which is separate to players. And there's a lot being made of that with the CA staff and everything. But from a players’ perspective, well, we are in kind of a different model to that.
On how he’s dealing with the lockdown
I am ready to go ASAP. I've been doing a lot of cooking, trying to learn as much as I can in the kitchen, which has been a slow process. But just getting stuck in the training. I have got gym in the garage. We can still get out there and do that running. I've got a golf ball and a string in the garage. So I've been hitting with cricket stuff, a bit like Don Bradman. So, I mean, the thing to remember is that this was our off-season anyway. Our time off, was meant to be on holidays in America. So I think the fact that COVID has come along, I meant it's just been training hard for an additional six weeks. It will only leave us in a better spot really, so the other thing, it does provide a really good perspective around the game. I think there’s times during the year where you do get a little bit worn out, a little bit tired. You do want some time at home and probably chose the other end of the spectrum now, where you get that time at home and you can't wait just to get out there on the cricket field. To run around with your mates, to get stuck into your training and playing games, I think there’s a really nice silver lining to all of this. Obviously a very tough time. But when we do come out of this, I think the cricket world and hopefully the world everywhere will be in a better spot.
In terms of the Big Bash space there are a couple of different ways planned to jazz that up for this summer. And one thing that's been flagged is this idea of split innings, almost having sort of four innings in a T20 game. Do you think that is sort of extreme or is left field or is that required?
I’m one of these players who are all for innovation into the game. You know, the markets and the people that we are appealing to, is constantly changing and what we're trying to put out there is I guess constantly adapt to what the fans want to see. Anything that we can do to increase interest and to get people tuning in and watching the game is obviously a benefit to all those involved. Around the split-innings stuff, I know we've played split innings in one-day cricket previously and it probably didn't work as well as what people would have liked. So, I mean, any kind of change, we do need to kind of look at both sides, get a real good perspective on it. If we can adapt the game in any way to bring more fans or more people watching on TV can only be a good thing.