By Jamie Holt
The task facing Rory Burns at Surrey may be daunting but former England wicketkeeper Paul Nixon has backed the young left-hander to continue to hold his own among their fleet of international stars.
The latest to pitch up at the Oval will be South African batsman JP Duminy for the final two months of the season – a replacement for former Australia captain Ricky Ponting who will depart after a two-month stint in July.
Duminy, who will arrive in August, joins the likes of his international Test captain Graeme Smith and legendary batsman Ponting in turning out for Surrey this term but Burns has been undeterred.
So far in the 2013 LV= County Championship, the 22-year-old has hit 381 runs at 42.33, including two hundreds in first full season opening for Surrey ahead of this week’s fixture against Sussex.
That sort of form has seen Burns shortlisted for the 2013 LV= County Championship breakthrough player award, and while he has yet to fully depose Steven Davies from behind the Surrey stumps Nixon has no doubts he will do if he remains patient.
“There is no greater place for a young batsmen to play then down at the Oval and Rory is proof of that,” said Nixon, who played 19 ODIs for England.
“He has a great team around him and will have the likes of Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe, when he is not with England, down there giving him advice and Rory should listen to everything they say.
“He has started 2013 fantastically well and it is hard to forget that he is in his first full season because he has adapted so well and so quickly.
“He might not be keeping wicket right now with Steven Davies down there but he has everything about him and just needs to be patient.”
Burns, who is joined on the shortlist by Gary Ballance, Scott Borthwick, Shiv Thakor, Luke Wells and David Willey, has quickly made a name for himself since his first-class debut against Cambridge MCCC in 2011, where he recorded 23.
He even outperformed fellow opener Smith this season before the Proteas skipper jetted back home for ankle surgery.
And Nixon claims Burns is well on course to replicate last year’s winner of the Breakthrough Player Award, Joe Root, and force himself onto the international scene with England.
“I think the LV= County Championship breakthrough of the year award is a wonderful thing to have not just for those nominated but also to highlight the great standard of good young English cricketers we have in the county game right now,” added Nixon.
Starting out: Rory Burns at the crease for Banstead CC in 2010
“It just shows how good a place English county cricket is in at the moment and these six nominees deserve the recognition.
“The inaugural winner was Joe Root and just look at what he has gone and done. He has set a pretty high benchmark for everyone else but the names on the list are doing their best to live up to that standard.
“They are all fantastic players in their own right and it just shows that the future of English cricket is very bright indeed.
“Young English players are becoming ready and more prepared for top-class county cricket for earlier than ever before and that is great for the national team.”
Paul Nixon was speaking on behalf of County Championship title sponsors LV=. To vote for your LV=County Championship Breakthrough Player, visit www.LV.com/cricket