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Hotel shadow batting helping Rory Burns prepare for England Test return in India

David Charlesworth, PA
·3-min read

Rory Burns is happy to be back with England following his spell of paternity leave as the opener revealed he is enthusiastically shadow batting in his hotel room in preparation for the Test series against India.

Burns was absent for the 2-0 win in Sri Lanka following the birth of his first child Cora this month but has linked up with his England team-mates in Chennai, where the first two Tests in the four-match series are being held.

Everyone in the touring camp is currently in quarantine so Burns is passing the time by diving into a psychology course he has recently begun as well as watching himself go through his batting motions in his hotel room mirror.

Steve Smith was filmed practicing his strokes in his Test whites recently and Burns is copying the strategy in lieu of being able to go to the nets – although he insists he is not donning his full kit to do so.

“The break and refreshment and new perspective that fatherhood brings has just been a nice bit of time to have at home and spend with the wife,” said the Surrey captain.

“It was obviously tough leaving my newborn daughter and wife back at home but it’s part and parcel of the job and I appreciate that. I’m just looking forward to getting going and getting back into work.

“I’m hungry to get going. I’m shadow batting in a mirror behind me, I’ve not gone full Steve Smith and put my whites on yet! But having the bat in hand and training and those sort of things.

“It’s coming down alright, so hopefully that translates!”

Burns, plus Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer – who were rested for the Sri Lanka trip – are scheduled to be released from quarantine two days before the rest of their team-mates following their earlier arrival into India.

That still leaves them with minimal preparation time ahead of the first Test on February 5 but Burns, who has not played a first-class game since early September, is unfazed at the prospect.

“It’s obviously a challenge and there’s not much we can do about that schedule, it’s just what’s placed in front of you,” said Burns. “If you waste time thinking about that, it’s probably not going to be any good to you.

Rory Burns averages 32.44 in 21 Tests (Michael Steele/PA)
Rory Burns averages 32.44 in 21 Tests (Michael Steele/PA)

“I’ve been around a little while now so I’ve got some experience to draw on.

“Me, Jof and Stokesy get a slight head start because of quarantine, but I’m looking forward to having a couple of tasty net sessions with those two coming in at me.”

Burns has previously spoken about finding life in cricket’s bio-secure bubbles difficult but, unlike in the summer where England stayed at on-site hotels, the team are based away from the grounds where they are playing.

“We’re not overlooking a cricket ground and, for me, that’s a massive positive,” said Burns, 30, who averages 32.44 in 21 Tests – although only three of those have been in Asia, while this is his first Test trip to India.

Burns – who could slot back in as opener alongside Dom Sibley, with Zak Crawley returning to first drop in the absence of the rested Jonny Bairstow – believes having interests outside cricket could be key to any success on this trip.

“It certainly helps keep me fresh and gets my mind away from cricket so I don’t just sit there and stew about the game completely,” added Burns.

“There are other things that are going on in the world. If 2020 isn’t a humbler for a lot of people then I don’t know what will be.”