One awkward tumble was all it took for Joe Burns to turn from Test match floater, to Australian anchorman.

Unless David Warner can make a miraculous recovery from a groin injury, Burns has suddenly gone from fighting for his spot to now looking like being relied upon to play a crucial leadership role, guiding Will Pucovski through a Test debut in Adelaide.

Burns had received high-powered backing from coach Justin Langer to potentially survive for Adelaide even before Warner's injury, but the Queenslander was still under massive pressure following five scores under 30 at a time when young gun Pucovski had blown hot in the Sheffield Shield with back-to-back centuries.

Former Test greats like Ian Chappell and Mark Waugh had called for his axing.

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As a result, this was meant to be a high-pressure week for Burns, as he prepared for a 'bat off' of sorts alongside Pucovski in an Australia A tour match starting on Saturday.

But now it shapes more like a timely dress rehearsal for Australia's new opening pairing, and Burns with his 21 Tests worth of experience will be relied upon to help navigate Pucovski through a baptism of fire against India which is no easy assignment for any debutant, no matter the potential.

Australian teammates are backing Burns to rise to the occasion if Warner is out.

"Joe is averaging (nearly) 40 in Test cricket. He's certainly established and he's got four Test hundreds," said Queensland and Australian teammate, Marnus Labuschagne.

"He's a very good player. I think although he hasn't scored the runs in Shield cricket that he'd like, he got 97 against Pakistan in the first Test last summer and he negotiated through that new ball period last summer.

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"He's not far away from a couple of really big scores and I think if he was to step up to that senior opener role, 100 per cent, I think he's that sort of player that can step up if the team really needs it.

"He's done it many times for Queensland and he's done it a few times for Australia as well."

Burns' biggest moments as a Test player have included a man-of-the-match, series-clinching ton against New Zealand in Christchurch in 2016, and a huge 180 in his return to the Test scene against Sri Lanka in Canberra early last year.

Labuschagne said despite the magnitude of what it would mean if Warner was missing, Australia would feel good that six of their likely top seven for the series opener in Adelaide would have Sheffield Shield game-time under their belts this summer.

Joe Burns looks likely to keep his spot for the opening Test. Picture: AAP Images
Joe Burns looks likely to keep his spot for the opening Test. Picture: AAP Images

Burns, Pucovski, Labuschagne himself, Matthew Wade, Travis Head and Tim Paine have all played plenty of red-ball matches, with Steve Smith the only batsman who hasn't.

Labuschagne also believes there's a huge amount of confidence and momentum Australia can take out of their ODI thrashing of India.

"Cricket's a massive confidence game and even though it's a different format it still gives you a lot of confidence when you're scoring runs consistently," said Labuschagne.

"The way Steve and Davey are batting currently, I've got no doubt they'll be able to transfer that into the Test summer. Right now, there's still a lot of games to be played before that. We've just got to make sure we finish this one day series well."

Originally published as How close was Burns to being dropped before Warner injury?



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