Howzat for openers? Katich backs new Australian pair

Joe Burns salutes the crowd after making 50 at the Gabba. Photo: AAP Image
Joe Burns salutes the crowd after making 50 at the Gabba. Photo: AAP Image

FORMER Australian opening batsman Simon Katich has given the opening combination of David Warner and Joe Burns his tick of approval after day one of the first Test against New Zealand at the Gabba.

The two combined for an excellent first-wicket stand of 161, after a tricky first hour that saw Black Caps quick Tim Southee produce some dangerous swinging deliveries.

Katich was an ice man at the top of the order during his career, playing 56 Tests in the baggy green, averaging 45.03 and hitting 10 hundreds.

He said he was highly impressed with Burns' temperament and technique in just his third Test, and his first against the new ball at this level, the Queenslander making a classy 71.

"He (Burns) is a natural top-order player, and he made some comments recently that he wanted to bat at the top of the order - I think that's a good mindset," Katich told APN.

"Apart from the one he got out to today, that was the only one he went for away from his body. Otherwise he was really tight and patient, and he reaped the rewards once he got set."

Australian opening batsmen Joe Burns (left) and David Warner leave the field at lunch on day 1 of the first Trans-Tasman Test match between Australia and New Zealand at the Gabba. Photo: AAP Image/Dave Hunt.
Australian opening batsmen Joe Burns (left) and David Warner leave the field at lunch on day 1 of the first Trans-Tasman Test match between Australia and New Zealand at the Gabba. Photo: AAP Image/Dave Hunt.

Katich said he believed Burns, 26, and Warner, 29, could be a successful Australian opening partnership for years to come.

"They complemented each other well and Burns seemed happy to play second-fiddle," Katich said.

"I think when they got the 100 partnership they felt they were forging a team together within the team."

Katich also praised Warner for the courage he displayed in attacking the Black Caps quicks inside a difficult first hour, while batting with a thumb still sore after fracturing it in a one-dayer against England in September.

"He'd be a bit sore, so that means he was even more courageous to go out there and still play the way he did," he said.

"He's a class act. Being vice-captain now he'll want to grab that opportunity, and he has - he's led from the front."

Burns is just the fourth right-handed opener to play Test cricket for Australia this century, the past 15 years dominated by lefties including the outstanding combination of Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.

Just 14 different pairings have been used in that time, with left-handers being used exclusively after the retirement of Michael Slater in 2001, until Shane Watson was moved to the top of the order to replace Phillip Hughes midway through the 2009 Ashes tour.



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