Australia v South Africa - First Test: Day 2
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 18: Australia celebrate a wicket during day two of the First Test match between Australia and South Africa at The Gabba on December 18, 2022 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)
Australia v South Africa - First Test: Day 2

Australian Test hopeful Joe Burns believes the new Kookaburra balls that are being used may be just as much to blame as a green, seaming pitch for a two-day Test in Australia's opener against South Africa at the Gabba.

Australia found themselves set just 34 to win on the second day of play at the Gabba, having skittled South Africa for 99 in the visitors' second dig.

At one stage, the Proteas were 6 for 69, only for a 30-run rear guard from Khaya Zondo and Lungi Ngidi to ensure Australia would need to do some batting in order to win the game.

Australia lost four wickets in the chase, with all of David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith and Travis Head falling victim to the Proteas' fearsome pace attack.

The second innings had followed 15 wickets on Day 1, with South Africa all out for 152, and Australia collapsing before lunch on Day 2 to win all out for 218 - in the end a tally that proved to be crucial in keeping what they needed in the final innings of the game to something manageable.

The Gabba pitch - which was labelled a green monster before the Test started - was partially to blame, but Burns believes the Kookaburra balls, which have added a layer of lacquer, but also have a more pronounced seam, are also in the conversation.

Kookaburra changed the manufacturing of the ball used in Test cricket after quality control issues over previous summers, which often saw balls needing to be replaced in the opening overs of an innings.

Burns, who scored 82 and 72 in two of his last three Sheffield Shield innings as he looks for a way back into the Test side during tours of India and England during 2023, is currently playing for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League, and will return to the Queensland side in February with an eye to making a last-gasp effort to be included in tours during 2023.