Joe Burns fails to cement Test spot as unlikely rival flourishes

The front door to the Test side is ajar after Joe Burns’ second-innings duck at Karen Rolton Oval on Sunday.

Burns faces a surprise challenge from reinvented opener Will Pucovski who was unbeaten on 255 when Victoria declared on 3-564 against South Australia at Glenelg Oval.

With 256 runs at 32 last summer, Burns failed to cement his spot in a Test side that swept the Pakistan and New Zealand series 5-0.

He batted through a tough first session on Friday but wasted the start to fall for 29.

Going on past experience, the selectors don’t need much of an excuse to drop Burns, as he was overlooked for the 2019 Ashes after making 180 against Sri Lanka in Canberra.

With Marcus Harris also pressing, Burns needs a score in the final round of the opening block of Shield games next week. Fortunately for him, Queensland is playing the listless Redbacks.

Bar the reliable Chadd Sayers, the South Australian attack is a friendlier prospect than the NSW outfit that ran through Queensland’s top order on Sunday.

Trent Copeland trundled out the most extraordinary spell of the Shield thus far this summer, bowling 66 consecutive dot balls in his 5-17 from 18 overs (12 maidens).

Copeland found Burns’ outside edge on his way to 3-2 from 10 overs (nine maidens) before lunch.

Trent Copeland of the Blues.Source:Getty Images

The Blues turned up the volume when first-innings hundred-maker Marnus Labuschagne strode out, with Nathan Lyon appearing to mark out a small, imaginary, circle on a good length as if to say `that’s where Trent’s going to bowl it’.

Well Lyon was spot on, as Copeland hit the perfect length to get Labuschagne lbw for a duck, triggering a rowdy send-off for the Australian No 3.

When Bryce Street feathered Copeland to keeper Peter Nevill the Bulls were in deep trouble at 3-30.

Usman Khawaja (41) and Matt Renshaw (42) defied NSW for a time until Copeland returned to dismiss both Bulls left-handers.

Kurtis Patterson clutched a one-handed screamer at second slip to end Renshaw’s 115-ball vigil. Copeland had 5-6 before his figures blew out to a profligate 5-17.

“I was talking to the lads just before in the sheds and I can’t recall a time when things have gone better, or to a plan, as well as that today,” Copeland said after play.

“Today was one of those days where I felt like I had the ball in my control and it was doing what I wanted it to do.

“It was a wicket that offered that half bat width – it wasn’t doing so much that it was beating the bat.

“It was my day today but the whole bowling unit was really good.”

Lusty hitting – including two big sixes — by Mark Steketee (27 from 24) helped edge the Bulls total to 190, leaving NSW 206 to win.

At stumps the Blues were 3-71, with Daniel Hughes on 24 and Daniel Solway 17.

Fresh from taking 5-97 in the first innings, his best first-class return, leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson landed a heavy blow when he dismissed a sweeping Moises Henriques lbw late in the day.

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