Joe Burns fit to play again but Ashes prospects in limbo

Australia opener Joe Burns is set to be available for Ashes selection, having been cleared to play again after recovering from post-viral fatigue disorder.

Burns had been forced to go home from his stint with English county side Lancashire in May after he was was diagnosed with post-viral fatigue, stemming from a virus he suffered in October 2018.

Post-viral fatigue is an umbrella term for serious fatigue symptoms that can afflict individuals following a viral infection. A number of cricketers and athletes have suffered from it, and it notably ended the career of former Australia under 19 captain and Western Australia batsman Rob Baker.

Burns’ issues were not found to be as severe and after a prescribed rest period, Burns began training again on June 17. He took to Twitter on Monday to announce he has been cleared to play again.

The major issue for Burns is whether he will be able to play anywhere in the lead up to the Ashes. Despite scoring a career-best 180 in Australia’s last Test match against Sri Lanka back in February, Burns was not selected in the Australia A squad that is currently touring England.

National chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns did explicitly state that players not selected in the Australia A squad, including – Burns, Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Bancroft – were all still firmly in Ashes contention as county form would be heavily considered. However, Burns was replaced as Lancashire’s overseas player by South Australia’s Jake Lehmann.

Australia’s other incumbent Test opener, Marcus Harris, has traveled to England to join the Australia A four-day squad for the first of two four-day games against Sussex and the England Lions. He is the only specialist opener in the squad for those two games, the first of which starts on Sunday. There is a third four-day game between Australia and Australia A in Hampshire on July 23 that will feature Ashes contenders who are currently in the World Cup squad.

There will need to be at least 22 players, possibly 24, to play in that game and the teams have not been named. The Ashes squad will be selected at the end of that game on July 27 with the first Test starting at Edgbaston just five days later.

David Warner is set to return to the top of the order in the Test team following his productive return at the World Cup. Steve Smith is also a guaranteed starter barring injury, meaning at least two of the top six who played in Australia’s last Test are set to be squeezed out.

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