Recalled Australian opener Joe Burns thought he may never play for Australia again after taking a break from cricket due to a fatigue disorder six months ago.
Despite scoring a century in his last Test match in January against Sri Lanka, Burns was snubbed by selectors for the Ashes in England.
During his forced break from the game, Burns admits he had doubts about his ability to return to the highest level.
“It crosses your mind, no doubt,” Burns told cricket.com.au.
Live stream the Australia v Pakistan T20 & Test Series with KAYO SPORTS on your TV or favourite device. Get your 14-day free trial >
“When there’s uncertainty around your health, you usually pre-empt the worst.
“Sitting here now, having had that break, I feel a million bucks compared to last season. I’m just looking forward now to showing everyone what I can do. I feel so much more ready to play.”
Burns’ omission from Australia’s Ashes campaign was perplexing at the time considering he broke Australia’s century drought last summer with a 180 against Sri Lanka in Canberra.
MORE CRICKET NEWS
SUMMER OF SMITH: Why the best since Don is about to reach a whole new level
BURNING QUESTIONS: Australia’s top six search, Starc’s bid to return to his best
CONFIRMED: Langer reveals Australian XI for first Test against Pakistan
The Queenslander has a strong record averaging 40.10 in his 16 Tests, including four centuries at the top of the order, but he has struggled to get a consistent run in Australia’s top XI since debuting in 2014.
However the 30-year-old has no regrets over his Ashes snub and the break from cricket that followed.
“Looking back, I think it was 100 per cent the right decision,” Burns said of his six week sabbatical.
The Follow-On Podcast with Aussie great Mike Hussey and Cricket Victoria GM Shaun Graf
ON YOUR PHONE? CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
“I was disappointed to miss out on the Ashes, of course, but the silver lining to not getting selected was I actually had more time to get ready for this summer.
“I probably feel better now than what I would’ve had I played in the Ashes.”
After an up and down start to the home summer, Burns is hoping to use his knowledge of the Gabba surface to kickstart his latest Test incarnation.
“The first month of the season, we had some testing wickets and some really good bowling attacks, and I felt like from week to week my game was just getting better,” he says.
“The Gabba is no doubt a challenge for an opening batter … but I guess it is easier to go into the game with high confidence. I’ve played for 10 years now and have had to make a career out of playing there.
“So it’s very easy to stay in that same mindset going into a Test match on your home ground.”
Australian coach Justin Langer has put his faith in Burns at the top of the order and thinks he will complement David Warner’s game.
“I know Davey likes batting with him,” Langer said.
“And I obviously have some understanding of how important it is for the openers to get on really well, and work well together and understand each other.
“So we’re looking at that combination, and it’s no secret – I’ve said one of the things we need to do is get our top three cemented and get that as strong as possible because it’s a pivotal part of winning games of cricket.
“So I’m hopeful ‘the odd couple’ (Burns and Warner) will get out there and, like we’ve seen in the past, form a really good opening partnership.”