Rory Burns was pleased to get an early sight of one of England’s possible Test opponents on the first of four warm-up days in Barbados.
Alzarri Joseph took the new ball for the CWI President’s XI on Tuesday morning before being handed a recall by the West Indies for the first Test later this month.
The tall seamer’s last cap came at Edgbaston in 2017, a resounding victory for the hosts in their inaugural day-night Test, but having battled back from a stress fracture he is angling to feature at the Kensington Oval on January 23.
Joseph started well, having Keaton Jennings caught off bat and pad at short leg, but saw his new ball burst safely negotiated by Burns. The Surrey man lasted more than two hours as he contributed 35 to a stumps total of 317 for 10, the final wicket falling at 284 before Jennings reemerged for a second life.
“For me it was quite a big advantage (facing Joseph),” he said.
“I know I haven’t played against a lot of these guys or in these conditions much so anyone I can get a good look at, or get a bit of confidence against, the better. It was nice to have a look at him today.
“It was a decent day’s cricket and a good hit out.”
For the likes of Burns and Ben Stokes, who made 56, the outing represented solid acclimatisation time and valuable middle practice against a team containing six internationals and a second Test seamer in Miguel Cummins.
Joe Root was a class apart though, the captain reeling off 87 care-free runs at exactly a run-a-ball. The Yorkshirman is fresh from a disappointing Twenty20 stint in Australia’s Big Bash but gave every impression of being on top of his game with 12 boundaries and two sixes punctuating a fluent innings.
“Sometimes you’ve got to be happy to play second fiddle,” acknowledged Burns.
“When a batsman gets away and you have to dig in that’s fine, he played very nicely. If someone is off and flying you’ve got to stay with him, that’s what a good partnership is and I thought we dovetailed nicely. It’s not always free-flowing cricket that gets played here and it was quite attritional at points.”
England would have eagerly settled for attrition during the evening session, at one stage losing five wickets for 31 runs inside eight overs.
That saw them eventually ‘bowled out’ for 284, but the loose arrangements of the 12-a-side match meant the innings continued with Jennings returning for a second bite at the cherry.
His partnership with Burns at the top of the order is still in its early days, with neither having nailed down a long-term slot, but with every game and every long catching session after nets their bond is increasing.
“We’ve had six weeks off from each other and now we’re back in each other’s pockets,” Burns joked.
“We’ll keep taking our catches together, scoring some runs together and see how we go. It’s only going to grow the more time we spend together.
“I feel like I’m shaping up nicely and putting myself in decent positions. I haven’t had the score I’d like to for England yet, to hammer it home, but that’s cricket sometimes.”