Joe Burns of Australia bats during day four of the Third Test Match in the series between Australia and New Zealand at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 06, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Picture: JASON MCCAWLEY / GETTY IMAGES
Joe Burns of Australia bats during day four of the Third Test Match in the series between Australia and New Zealand at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 06, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Picture: JASON MCCAWLEY / GETTY IMAGES

Melbourne - Having been struck down by a fatigue illness in 2019, Australia opener Joe Burns sees a silver lining in cricket’s long off-season due to the coronavirus shutdown.

With all cricket suspended and Australia still largely locked down to contain Covid-19, Burns and his teammates have plenty of time to kill before returning to the field.

For Burns, home isolation has not been all bad and has actually offered a welcome chance to recharge his batteries.

“Definitely this enforced layoff for everyone provides the opportunity just to really get yourself right, reset and start preparing physically for next summer,” Burns told reporters in a video conference on Thursday.

“It’s probably the longest off-season any of us would have had for a long time.

“From a physical perspective, it gives the opportunity for us to be in a really strong position. I think that’s the silver lining.”

Before Covid-19, modern cricketers had never been so busy, with players opting to fill the shrinking spaces in the international calendar with stints in domestic tournaments.

While playing in England in 2019, Burns abruptly left county side Lancashire after one match to go home and recuperate from a chronic fatigue condition that doctors traced to an infection the previous year.

He was left out of the Ashes squad but regained his spot in  the home summer, enjoying a fruitful opening partnership with David Warner in series against Pakistan and New Zealand.

“There are times during the year where you do get a little worn out, a little tired and you do want some time at home,” said the 30-year-old, who was awarded one of 20 national contracts handed out by Cricket Australia last week.

“It’s the other end of the spectrum now ... you can’t wait just to get out there on the cricket field and running about with your mates, getting stuck into training and playing games.”

He said he was learning, slowly, how to cook and had been using a cricket stump to bash a golf ball tied to a rope, Don Bradman-style, in his garage-turned-gym.

While noting that his pay might shrink without a resumption of cricket, he was calm about the financial effect of Covid-19, saying the board had not yet asked players to take any pay cut.

With June’s two-match series against Bangladesh postponed indefinitely, Burns is pinning his hopes on India being able to tour in the home summer, which would offer an intriguing series between Tim Paine’s top-ranked Test side and Virat Kohli’s world No 2 team.

“As an opening batter, it’s so exciting for myself ... there’s going to be a huge challenge this summer and a big role to play in nullifying the India bowlers, especially early in a Test match.” 

Reuters