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Recent Match Report – Hampshire vs Surrey Group 2 2021

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Unbeaten fifties for Burns and Amla complete Surrey’s best day of the season to date

Surrey 131 for 1 (Burns 61*, Amla 59*) lead Hampshire 92 (Clark 6-21) by 39 runs

It remains to be seen whether the removal of the national selector’s job leads to a major overhaul in personnel in England’s Test team or merely incremental change, but Rory Burns would have noted last week’s news with some apprehension either way.

Through a combination of injury, becoming a father, and loss of form, Burns has appeared in only eight of England’s last fifteen Tests – averaging 24.00 – and they have won five of the seven that he missed: if Silverwood is looking for a fall guy to signal a clean break from the Ed Smith era, Burns is the obvious candidate out of the batters who toured India.

Burns will know that eyes have been on him at the start of the County Championship season, not least with Adam Lyth, Sam Robson and Haseeb Hameed among those piling up stack of April runs. His record in the first three rounds was unspectacular, with two single-figure scores, two unconverted fifties, and a middling score of 36, and circumstances appeared to be conspiring against him against Hampshire. He walked out to bat on the greenest Oval pitch in recent memory to face Mohammad Abbas and Kyle Abbott after the group leaders had been rolled for 92; it was hardly an obvious opportunity for him to fill his boots.

But Burns managed to score freely, reaching 61 at a decent lick in an unbroken stand of exactly 100 with Hashim Amla before bad light brought an early close. Abbas bowled too straight and Abbott too full as both conceded three boundaries to him, and he was characteristically ruthless off his pads, scoring 55 of his runs through the leg side. The idiosyncrasies in his technique remain, but his stubborn faith in his own method has served him well in the past.

If weighted averages and underlying data continue to be major influences on England selection in the future, Burns will be helped by this sort of innings, against an international-quality new-ball attack in a game that looks likely to be low-scoring. It remains plausible that it will be Zak Crawley opening the batting alongside Dom Sibley against New Zealand at Lord’s in June, with some combination of James Bracey, Ollie Pope, Dan Lawrence and Ben Foakes joining Joe Root in the middle order with Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler on IPL duty and Ben Stokes injured, but turning this innings into an eye-catching hundred would buy him some time.

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