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Burns ready for the hot seat

A Boxing Day Test debut is the stuff of dreams for young Australian cricketers. For some, it has led to a long and successful career - Steve Waugh and Brett Lee, for example. Others like Ed Cowan, Phil Jaques, Martin Love and Jackson Bird have had shorter careers, though in the cases of Cowan and Bird, that could still change. Matthew Nicholson's Boxing Day debut was his only Test.

The latest addition to the list will be Queensland batsman Joe Burns, who will become the 441st man to wear the baggy green when he walks out onto the MCG turf. For serious cricket followers, Burns is an exciting prospect who deserves his chance. More casual cricket fans will say they don't know much about Burns and call him a bolter.

Even among the squad this week, Burns has been trying to fly under the radar, trying not to stay on the right side of the established players. Brad Haddin joked on Tuesday that Burns had asked him where he was allowed to sit in the change-rooms. Burns admitted that his eagerness to please had indeed stretched that far.

"I've been trying to keep a low profile," Burns said. "I've been asking guys like Brad Haddin and Ryan Harris about where to sit, what to do. Just trying to keep off everyone's toes and make sure I'm on the best behaviour... I got very nervous and stood in the middle of the room until everyone else sat down and found a seat. Then I was informed that I was in Michael Clarke's seat so I've got a lot to live up to in that seat."

It's fair to say this is a very different Christmas for Burns, who would usually spend the time with his family in Brisbane. Instead, they are joining him in Melbourne to watch his debut at No.6 for Australia. It will be a first not only for the Burns family, but for Joe Burns himself.

"I've never been to a Boxing Day Test," Burns said. "So from that point of view it's even more exciting, to come along to the ground, see a sold out MCG and soak it all in. It's exciting just to say those words. To live it out on Friday, I can't wait."

At least Burns has pleasant memories of his previous trips to the MCG. He has played two Sheffield Shield games at the venue for scores of 59, 123 and 71. He hopes to find a similar surface when he bats there in a Test match, though the pressure in front of tens of thousands of spectators will be a little more than when he played in the Shield in front of tens of people.

"I certainly do enjoy batting here," Burns said. "It's a wicket that can be quite flat, but also retain its pace. It's a nice batting wicket. I haven't seen the pitch for the Test yet, but I imagine it'll be much the same. Obviously there is going to be more pressure, but hopefully that makes it more enjoyable."

Adding to the familiarity for Burns is the presence of coach Darren Lehmann in the Australian squad. Lehmann was in charge of Queensland when Burns first emerged as a state cricketer of note at the age of 21. Burns said he was the player and person he was today because of the influence of Lehmann.

"I was a young player when he took over and teaching me everything that goes with professional cricket," Burns said. "The values, the type of character, the way to go about the game on and off the field. I think I certainly am the player I am today and I guess the person around cricket I am today because of the influence he had on me from a younger age. I'm just excited to have him as my first Australian coach. It's very special."