BY MARCUS HOOK
Michael Di Venuto is as surprised as anyone that Rory Burns hardly ever seems to get a mention when it comes to batsmen knocking on the England door.
The 27-year-old has followed up three successive thousand-run seasons in the County Championship with a further 500 at an average of 62.50 this term.
“He’s a fantastic player full stop,” said Di Venuto, Surrey’s head coach. “Hopefully the skipper will get some recognition down the track because he keeps on punching out runs.
“His 151 at Southampton was a terrific innings, against an outstanding Hampshire attack. There aren’t many better [attacks] going around in championship cricket as far as pace bowlers are concerned; and he played beautifully, because the ball was always doing something.”
Fast bowler Dale Steyn, Hampshire’s overseas player, was also impressed with the Surrey captain.
The South African said: “Rory Burns batted bloody nicely. He looked really good. I think he looks like a Test batsman; and I’ve opened the bowling to a lot of opening batters.”
Steyn added: “When I blinked he was on 150, so he did it pretty quickly too. I always watch guys on the way they leave the ball and I thought he left the ball really well.
“It’s always easy to come at the ball: you can nick one for four or hit it through the covers; it still says four in the scorebook.
“But I watch the way guys leave the ball and he left the ball with good intent. He watched it very carefully and, when the short ball came, he got out of the way or took it on.”
One school of thought is that the England hierarchy are put off by Burns’s ‘trigger’ movement of cocking his head to face mid-on as the bowler is running in.
“It’s lucky Steve Smith wasn’t English then,” said Di Venuto. “I thought the name of the game was to score runs and that’s what he does. So, the technique issue – I always respond: ‘What is technique? Who’s got the perfect technique?’
“Surely his job is, number one, to stay there and if he can do that, he’s doing alright. If he’s got a couple of shots and can score runs then that’s the name of the game. As a batter the name of the game is to score runs and he’s scored a lot of them over the last four and a half years.
“The way I see it, he’s in a very similar position to the one Mark Stoneman was in a Durham. Rocky constantly churned them out and, yet, didn’t get any recognition as far as the Lions or the Test set-up was concerned.
“Hopefully it won’t take as long for the England selectors to give Rory an opportunity, at least at Lions level, to have a look at him. Time will tell. But if he keeps on scoring runs then eventually I think they’ll have to, which is what happened with Mark Stoneman.”
Di Venuto added that when Gareth Batty stood down as Surrey captain at the end of last season, there was only one man capable of filling Batty’s shoes.
“Rory has grown as a person and as a leader over the last couple of years,” said the head coach. “Obviously, his performances are still very good, outstanding actually.
“Last year, when he captained, he peeled off a double hundred, so the responsibility of being captain didn’t affect him.
“It was just the right time to take the club forward. A good Surrey boy who has come right through the ranks from the age of eight.
“Such a good story, a good leader and we’re lucky as a club to have him.”