Rory Burns has revealed a meeting with members of England’s 2005 Ashes-winning team inspired him to hit an emotional maiden Test century against Australia.
The Surrey opener’s unbeaten 125 helped England take control on day two of this opening Ashes Test as Joe Root’s men closed just 17 runs behind Australia’s first-innings total on 267 for four.
Burns had been close to being dropped after a nightmare Test against Ireland last week at Lord’s, where he scored just 12 across two innings.
But he saved his best for his eighth and most important Test appearance to date to reach three figures after spending more than half an hour stuck in the 90s.
Read more: Ashes Day Two: Scrutiny falls on Joe Denly as Rory Burns escapes it
However, it was England players from the decade after that – 2005 Ashes winners Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, Simon Jones, Paul Collingwood, Matthew Hoggard and Ashley Giles – who helped Burns get his head right during a pre-series dinner in Birmingham the night before this Test started.
“To be an Ashes cricketer in the first place is a wonderful thing,” said Burns. “We had a connect with some of the 2005 Ashes winners the night before [this match] and I was literally ready to run through a brick wall at that stage and get right in amongst it.
“So the night before I probably played my first ball a few times and probably celebrated a hundred a couple of times. So then to get over the line today is a wonderful feeling and a pretty wonderful experience to have.
“I had two brothers play with me when I was younger and it is something I have dreamt of. I was on 99 for a while – to get over the line is awesome.”
Read more: Ashes 2019: Rory Burns survives tortuous ’90s to lead England’s fightback against Australia
The Surrey batsman also admitted he shunned all media in between his horror show against Ireland and this match and got his confidence back in the nets with childhood coach Neil Stewart, the brother of former England captain Alec Stewart.
“I literally buried my head in the sand to all comments and media and tried to get myself around people who back me,” said Burns. “I went to someone who has been coaching me since the age of six and I just asked him what he reckoned and then just tried to put it all into practice.”
There was less positive news for England off the field. Fast bowler Mark Wood, already struggling with a side injury, has been ruled out for the remainder of the summer after having surgery on his left knee. There was no official update on James Anderson’s fitness yesterday but England are resigned to being without their all-time leading wicket-taker until at least next month’s fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford. The 37-year-old pulled up with a recurrence of a calf injury on the first morning of this match but is expected to bat if required.
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If the fourth Test is an option for Anderson, it is thought he could play as a guest for Derbyshire in a tour match against Australia starting on August 29 to prove his fitness as Lancashire, his county, only have one Championship match this month.