Former Test captain Ian Chappell has cast doubts over Australia’s opening pair of Joe Burns and Matthew Wade, after Burns registered a duck on Boxing Day against India.
Burns found himself trudging off the MCG without troubling the scorers for the second consecutive Boxing Day Test, having been dismissed first ball in 2019 against New Zealand.
It’s the latest in a horror run of form for the right-hander, who has endured a wretched run through the first part of the summer.
He made an unbeaten 51 in the second innings in Adelaide, but Burns himself would most likely agree that Test 50s won’t come much easier than they did on that occasion, given India’s capitulation on the third morning meant the match was effectively over when he batted.
While Wade managed 30 himself before falling to an ill-advised shot off Ravi Ashwin, Chappell said the left-hander could soon also find himself out of the side.
“I don’t think they can keep picking (Burns) if Warner’s fit. But then, I don’t really think Wade is the answer at the other end either,” he told Wide World of Sports.
“He looked quite secure against the quickies. He played pretty well and in an aggressive style, but it was pretty obvious that the Indians feel like he’s got a problem against spin bowling and that will be noted by every other team.
“He’s okay while you can’t find anyone else, but once someone else comes along, he’s going to find it hard to hold that place.”
While Wade could slide back into his natural position at No.6, Chappell said he would prefer seeing young all-rounder Cameron Green get an extended run.
“I like the idea of the all-rounder at six and having picked Green, I think they’ve got to give him a bit longer,” he said.
“At this stage, his bowling looks a bit further ahead than his batting. You can’t give guys two innings. If you think a guy is good enough, you’ve got to give him longer than that.”
Chappell was full of praise for India’s bowling on the opening day, crediting stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane for his “excellent captaincy” in Virat Kohli’s absence.
“Some of the rash strokes were probably brought on by very good bowling,” he said.
“When you think you’re going to struggle to withstand the bowling for a length of time, that’s when you tend to play rash shots.
“For instance, Matthew Wade has a bit of a problem against the spinners. He feels like his defence isn’t going to hold up and consequently he tries to get them before they get him, it’s that sort of approach, and I think that led to his shot.”
While Steve Smith was dismissed for a rare duck, Chappell said he was not concerned about the former skipper’s long-term form.
“You can’t go on piling on runs, I don’t care how good you are,” he said.
“Sooner or later, things are going to catch up with you and I think the Indians have worked out some things with him. I don’t have concerns, he’ll make runs.
“India had to find a way to stop him, otherwise they weren’t going to win the series, and so far they’ve had a bit of success against him.”
India will resume day two on 1-36, 159 behinds Australia’s first innings score of 195.
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