Australian star aims to make an impact at Middlesex despite Ashes distraction
Justin Langer, Chris Rogers and more recently Adam Voges… there are some distinguished footsteps for Middlesex’s latest Australian import Joe Burns to try and follow.
The Lord’s side turned to Burns as a replacement for their skipper Voges, who received an unexpected call-up to Australia’s Ashes squad this summer.
Ironically, the Queenslander, who won two Test caps during the winter, was probably edged out of the national squad by the selection of Voges.
But Burns is completely focused on becoming the next in that Antipodean tradition to make an impact with Middlesex, rather than catching the eye of the powers that be at Cricket Australia.
“I think if you worry too much about selection or making an impression, things can become quite difficult,” said Burns. “I’m trying to contribute as much as I can to a successful Middlesex team and make as many runs as possible.
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“But for Middlesex, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to play here. The fact that my national team are here at the same time is nice and I’ll support them as much as I can.
“I’ve played in the Test side with Bucky Rogers – he always speaks very highly of his time at Middlesex, and what a good example that is for me to try and follow.
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“Middlesex strike me as a club that stick with tradition and go back to guys they know. I’d love to end up coming back season after season.”
The 25-year-old’s first experience of English cricket came back in 2010, when he played in the West Sussex League for Stirlands CC, alongside new Middlesex team-mate Nick Gubbins.
He also sampled a brief taste of the county game two years ago, when he joined Leicestershire to stand in for overseas star Ramnaresh Sarwan, but a hip injury cut that spell short.
“I think you try to fall back on all the experiences you’ve picked up over the years and my time at Leicestershire was no different, although injuries probably didn’t allow me to play my best cricket,” Burns added.
“I jumped at the opportunity to join Middlesex – it was a quick decision to make and an easy one as well. Hopefully they’ll see the best of me and I can put some performances on the board.
“It’s been fantastic coming into this group – there’s a good mixture of experience and young guys coming through. I’m proud to call them my team-mates and it’s an opportunity for me to learn off them.
“The only disappointing aspect of the move is that I’m not going to be here at the business end of the season, when the team will hopefully be winning trophies.”
Burns went straight into the Middlesex side for their opening match in the NatWest T20 Blast at Bristol, when they lost to Gloucestershire by seven wickets.
He was out for just five in the visitors’ innings of 175-3 – underpinned by Nick Compton’s 78 – and that total was insufficient as Gloucestershire sealed victory with an over to spare.
Nevertheless, Burns is relishing his new side’s next T20 fixture against Kent Spitfires next week, when he is expected to play at Lord’s for the first time.
“In particular, the T20 games I’ve seen at Lord’s have been played with good crowds and a great atmosphere,” he said. “It’s one of those iconic grounds that goes hand in hand with the whole notion of English cricket.
“That’s how you always think of Lord’s as a kid growing up – there’s so much prestige around it and it’s exciting to think that it’s going to be my home ground for the next few months.”
Middlesex retained top spot in the County Championship after their game against Hampshire at Southampton, which drifted towards an inevitable draw on the final day,
Neil Dexter took 5-64 in Hampshire’s first innings total of 413, with Middlesex struggling in reply before Nick Compton’s knock of 117 and a last-wicket stand of 75 between Toby Roland-Jones and Steven Finn lifted the visitors to 362.
Hampshire then reached 185-5 second time around, with Burns - along with opening batsmen Sam Robson and Nick Gubbins - taking a turn to bowl before the draw was confirmed.