Brilliant Burns defies Australia with magical maiden hundred

Rory Burns celebrated a maiden Test century as he defied Australia’s bowlers for an entire day to hand England the advantage on day two of the Ashes at Edgbaston.

Burns rebuffed the tourists for six and a half hours and faced 282 balls or his unbeaten 125, an old-fashioned opener’s innings boasting the flinty resolve England have been crying out for since Sir Alastair Cook’s retirement almost a year ago.

Australia allowed him one obvious reprieve, failing to refer an lbw shout that would have ended his stay at 21, but nothing should detract from the deep reserves character he leaned on to see his side to 267 for four – just 17 behind.

Two cheap dismissals against Ireland last week had lowered Burns’ average to 22.28 in seven matches, raising fresh questions over his credentials, but on his biggest stage yet the 28-year-old proved his mettle.

The left-hander does not have a pretty technique but then again neither does Steve Smith, whose brilliant 144 rescued Australia 24 hours earlier, and the pair have been easily the standout performers on a surface that has confounded more fluent strikers.

Burns’ idiosyncrasies have not prevented him racking up more than 8,000 first-class runs and at the 15th attempt he showed he could bring his best game to the highest level.

Stands of 132 alongside Joe Root (57) and 73 with Ben Stokes (38no) left England in a strong position to press for a decisive first-innings lead.

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