Burns soaks in special ton on home turf
It was not surprising that one of Australia's opening batsmen brought up his hundred with a six in the second innings at the Gabba. But it was surprising that it was Joe Burns rather than David Warner. On another day of Australian dominance, of batting with a license to attack, Warner and Burns both raced to highly entertaining centuries.
There were fascinating stats all over the place. It was the first time in Test history that an Australian opening pair had put on a hundred partnership in both innings of a Test. Warner became the third man, along with Sunil Gavaskar and Ricky Ponting, to score centuries in each innings of a Test on three separate occasions. That is a remarkable achievement.
But for Australia, the most satisfying stat must have been the three figures next to Burns' name. Burns and Usman Khawaja entered this match as the two new (or rather, returning) names in Australia's batting order. They were both under some pressure; they have both responded with centuries. And Burns reached his with a strike down the ground for six off Mark Craig.
"I walked down to him and said be a bit selfish and try to get six singles," Warner said. "Two balls later he came down the wicket and hit it over his head for six. But he said to me - I don't know what I was thinking. I said you obviously did know because you hit it for six."
Burns is in good company. Steven Smith also brought up his maiden Test century with a six, at The Oval in 2013. "The plan was to hit six singles," Burns agreed, "but I just kind of blacked out a bit and swung as hard as I could and luckily got it over the rope."
Perhaps the most eye-catching thing about Burns' innings is that he actually outpaced Warner. The Burns hundred came off 102 balls, the Warner ton from 109. Of course, New Zealand were a bowler down with Tim Southee unavailable due to his back injury, and the first-innings lead of 239 meant Australia had the freedom to play their shots.
"We actually thought we were doing very well when we came off during the rain break and Steve told us to go a bit harder," Warner said. "At 30 overs, 0 for 170 we thought we were going all right. So as you saw first ball back I tried to chip my first one out of the park. Our instructions were to try and get to 500 as fast as possible. That's what we tried to do and we've achieved it."
At that rain break Burns had just reached his century. A level-headed character, there was none of the running-leap celebration patented by Warner and borrowed by Khawaja. Burns raised his bat, accepted congratulations from Warner and took some time to even remove his helmet. He was soaking it in, the achievement of scoring his maiden Test ton at his home ground.
"It's pure elation. I'm not really sure what I did or what I was thinking," he said. "I can't think of a better place to do it than at the Gabba in front of friends and family. I guess the rain delay gave me a chance just to sit back straight after and reflect on it and think of all the people that helped me get to this day. I'm thankful that plenty of them were in the crowd today."
Burns has proven that he can score quickly; the next challenge will be to show that he can also knuckle down and play a long, more watchful opener's innings when required. If he can merge the two approaches, a bit of David Warner and a bit of Chris Rogers, Australia will be served by his presence at the top of the order.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale