Rory Burns, the anti aesthetic.
My mother always tells me “don’t taste with your nose” and a similar thing can be said for Rory Burns. When watching Burns “don’t judge with your eyes”.
England have probably the most unorthodox opening pair in test cricket at the moment. Dom Sibley stands chest on has become rather comical in his larger than life movements (this is no criticism of the vicar it is on the actually contrary), and Rory Burns has well his way of doing things. Burns’ technique may not look pretty with his bat hanging out, front foot coming across, head over the shoulder (we all know the drill) and his new hair isn’t doing it any favours either. The problem with having such an unorthodox top 2 (add in Steve Smith and Fawad Alam and you have arguably the ugliest top 4 in world cricket) is that whenever there is failure criticism of the technique is inevitable.
We saw it with Sibley after 2 test matches ‘he needs to go away and work on his game fix that stance Ted Dexter wouldn’t have batted like that!’ and now we’re seeing it with Burns (and we’ve already seen it with Burns in 2019), ‘well he just isn’t going to score many runs with a technique like that now is he! He needs to go and fix it all’. Well no, no he doesn’t. Before I lay out the facts I must say that from my point of view any opener in the county championship who scores runs and lots of them deserves credit and their technique clearly works if it works in the toughest place in the world to open the batting.
Now onto the Surrey captain. Well if it's runs you want he’s got them in abundance. The first England opener to 1000 test runs since the great Sir Alastair, 5 county seasons in a row he made 1000 runs (this is no mean feat) and was England's top scorer in the Ashes who wasn’t called Ben Stokes. Now Burns has had his failures as we should expect as he is hardly a world beater, conversely Burns has had his successes. Ireland supposedly ‘did him over’ ‘found him out’ with the short ball but then he went away and as i mentioned earlier delivered emphatically in the Ashes including a maiden test hundred. Burns has shown a constant ability to work on his game and improve it, i mean he is a professional after all. A test average of 30 is of course nothing to shout about but i do not believe this to be a fair reflection of Burns' ability (if anyone wants to come at me for this explain why Stokes averages 37 when we all know that is not his level). Burns has played some vital knocks for England and will do in the future i have no doubt about it. Not only this but he is also developing a somewhat nice partnership with Sibley up at the top, they understand each others game and both know exactly what they are there to do.
Does Burns’ technique mean he garners extra criticism? Your Honor I do believe this to be the case. As with any innovation or something against what we deem to be the norm or the correct way of doing things, the vast majority view it with the hope that it fails so they are proved right. Say Burns batted a bit more side on his head not where it is bat dangling about etc etc I am almost positive that any failure would be met with a demonstrably different response. Burns is a very very impressive batsmen and one who offers a great deal to this England side and i mean that. If you’re calling for Rory Burns to be dropped now chances are you called for Sibley's head in Sri Lanka and Burns’ head before that against Ireland and look how those turned out. These guys are professionals who have out performed everyone else at the domestic level and have overcome so much adversity towards their game and I back them to do it all again.
Before you hit send on that next tweet about Burns just remember. Rory has the numbers behind him, people score runs in all different kinds of ways and Burns is no different and beyond all else well he's the best there is because he's all there is. It may be a bit harsh on Burns but it is merely the truth. Not one other county batsmen has stuck their hand up to displace him. Lammonby is too young, Crawley is a number 3 so theres the best two options out the window. What i'm saying is cricket is a sport on which a lot of our perception is built on aesthetic so a player who is the antithesis of this will naturally niggle us but we cannot let this cloud our judgement.