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The Ashes 2021-22 – England’s Rory Burns looks to hit top gear with ‘decent sort of experience’ in Australia

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England opener says he has “got a good picture” of how Australia’s quicks operate

While the return of Ben Stokes has been considered a huge boost to England’s chances of winning the Ashes, Rory Burns knows his role at the top of the order could hold the key to glory in Australia.
Burns is part of England’s advanced squad that arrived in Australia on Saturday, while the rest of the contingent is in the UAE at the T20 World Cup. The group that touched down in Queensland is undergoing 14-day hotel quarantine but will get to train under strict biosecure protocols at the Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast during their quarantine period, with batting coach Graham Thorpe overseeing the squad as the head coach Chris Silverwood is in the UAE.

Burns knows he would need to produce something similar at the top if England were to regain the Ashes.

“That’d be nice wouldn’t it,” Burns said from hotel quarantine on the Gold Coast. “Obviously, some good names on that list.

“Generally, sides that do well, their top order performs, tries to get scores together as a team and a group, lets your middle order have the best use of conditions there as well.”

Burns hasn’t toured Australia before with England or England Lions but has had three stints in Australia playing grade cricket in Adelaide and Sydney. He played alongside Australia’s Travis Head at Tea Tree Gully in Adelaide in 2012-13, where the pair shared a 154-run stand in a game. He also had stints at St George and Randwick-Petersham in Sydney, making centuries for both clubs, playing alongside Australia players Moises Henriques and Nathan Ellis.

“It’s good to have some experience in Australia, but I’m trying not to formulate too many opinions off just that”

Rory Burns, England opener

“I’ve got a decent sort of experience of conditions out here, playing grade cricket,” Burns said. “Got a T20 hundred [for Randwick], which is probably not the thing to bring up in this call, obviously, we’re looking at the red-ball format, but yeah, I did alright.

“Obviously, the majority of places that I’ve toured in my career so far with England, I actually haven’t been to, so it’s nice that I’ve been here and I’ve got some experience of conditions out here.

“Plans can start being formulated a fraction earlier. But it all depends where you go. I’ve never been to Brisbane or Queensland before, so wickets and surfaces change depending on where you are. It’s good to have some experience in Australia, but I’m trying not to formulate too many opinions off just that.”

Burns has another connection within the Australia dressing room having worked closely with current Australia batting coach Michael Di Venuto at Surrey when Di Venuto was his head coach.

“We spoke about batting a lot, you know, certain shots that you can or can’t play,” Burns said. “The way he set up, he was very much pull and cut and quite aggressive. So he’s given me a few snippets along the way, and I’m looking forward to catching up with him at some stage.”

But the left-hand batter will draw more from his performances against Australia in the 2019 Ashes in England. In a torrid series for most of the openers on both sides, Burns stood tall, scoring a century at Edgbaston and two more half-centuries in the face of some high-quality bowling from Australia’s quicks, particularly Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

“They’re very good operators,” Burns said. “They don’t give you a lot of bad stuff. And they’re pretty relentless when they get it right, and they obviously bowl at a good pace. For me, what I’d say I’d taken out of it is the fact that I’ve been able to see them, I’ve been able to play against them before. You know, I’ve got a sort of a good picture of how they operate. So it allows me to put my best sort of plan together and prep for them.”

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Travis Head wins the race to be Australia's No. 5 in the Ashes

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Mitchell Starc will complete the fast-bowling trio alongside Josh Hazlewood and captain Pat Cummins



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Mithali Raj – We have had ‘good preparation’ for 2022 World Cup by playing SA, England, Australia this year

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“We are getting to play in New Zealand before World Cup which is also good,” she says

India Women are scheduled to play only one ODI series – against New Zealand – before the World Cup early next year but captain Mithali Raj feels the team has had “good preparation” so far in 2021.
This year, India hosted South Africa for five ODIs before playing a three-match series in England and Australia each. They lost all three series but made Australia, the No. 1 team, work really hard for their 2-1 win and also ended their 26-match winning streak in the third ODI there.

India will play World Cup hosts New Zealand for five ODIs before the World Cup in March-April.

“We have played three best teams since March and it has given us good preparation,” Raj said after a partnership between KFC and Indian Deaf Cricket Association in Delhi on Wednesday. “Players have played domestic cricket and also in the Women’s Big Bash so they are getting game time which is the most important thing.

“We are getting to play in New Zealand before World Cup which is also good.”

India, who were unable to post 250-plus scores regularly earlier, did that twice in the Australia series and chased down 265 in the final ODI.

“When you play against a strong team in its backyard you try to give your best,” Raj said. “Though we lost the series, the matches were very close. We scored 270 (274) and chased 270-odd, if we can do that consistently we will be among the best sides in world cricket.”

India’s middle-order batting needs improvement but Raj said all departments must fire as a unit if they are to win the World Cup.

“We bat as a unit so you can’t pinpoint one area,” she said. “There are times when the top order failed and the others performed. As a unit if we look to post a good total then it will help. If we focus on one area like middle order then it becomes too much of a burden for that particular slot.”

India finished runners-up in the 2017 World Cup in England when not many expected them to but expectations will be higher this time.

“There were not enough expectations back then,” Raj said. “Now in 2021, players have got experience and got a lot of exposure with the T20 leagues. Overall we have young players but they have got enough exposure. It is just of matter of gelling well as a team.

“Every match will be different there. The quicker we read our opponents the better it will be for us.”



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The Ashes 2021-22 – Michael Vaughan stood down from BT Sport Ashes coverage after Azeem Rafiq allegations

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Channel to adopt a “hybrid” approach with Vaughan’s stints on Fox Sports to be overlaid

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, will not be heard by UK audiences during this winter’s Ashes in Australia, after BT Sport followed the BBC’s decision to remove him from their TV coverage of the series.

Vaughan, 47, was last week stood down from BBC Test Match Special’s coverage for “editorial” reasons, following allegations from Azeem Rafiq, the former Yorkshire cricketer, that he had said “there are too many of you lot” following the selection of four players of Asian heritage in a county fixture in 2009.

Vaughan, who denies the allegations, apologised last week in an interview on BBC Breakfast for the “hurt” caused to Rafiq during his time as a player at Yorkshire, and will still be involved in this winter’s Ashes coverage through his commentary role with Fox Sports, the Australian host broadcaster.

However, BT Sport – who are due to take the Fox Sports feed after choosing not to send a bespoke commentary team to Australia – announced on Tuesday that they will be taking a “hybrid” approach to their coverage, with Vaughan’s on-air stints to be overlaid with studio analysis.

“As a result of Covid and travel restrictions BT Sport had made the decision to take our commentary feed from the Australian host broadcaster,” the channel said in a statement. “The recent report presented to UK Parliament uncovering institutional racism within cricket and specifically Yorkshire County Cricket Club is extremely disappointing and a concern for all.

“Given these recent events and the controversy with the situation we have taken the decision that including Michael Vaughan within our Ashes coverage would not be editorially appropriate or fit with BT Sport’s values. We are still finalising plans but we are assessing the option of taking a hybrid approach, using Fox commentary where possible with the aim of putting our own commentary team in place if necessary.”

Vaughan’s troubled build-up to the series continued on Tuesday, when he announced on Twitter that his arrival in Australia had been delayed by a week due to a positive Covid test. “[It] is frustrating,” he wrote. “But at least I’ll avoid the rain in Brisbane for a few days!”

However, his hopes of being retained by the BBC after the Ashes have received a boost, after the corporation confirmed that they had been in “regular contact” with Vaughan since his suspension, and had held “positive conversations with him in recent days”.

“Our contributors are required to talk about relevant issues, so Michael’s involvement in a story of such significance means it’s not possible for him to be part of our Ashes coverage or wider cricket coverage at the moment,” the statement added. “We’re pleased with how our conversations are going and expect to work with Michael again in the future. He remains on contract to the BBC.”

The BBC’s stance was criticised this week by his former England team-mate Monty Panesar, who wrote in a column in the Daily Telegraph: “This feels deeply unethical — a classic case of someone being tried and convicted without any form of due process being undertaken.”



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