By Richard Gibson For Mail On Sunday
00:37 09 Apr 2023, updated 02:10 09 Apr 2023
- David Warner’s chances of an Ashes swansong hang by a thread
- The 36-year-old has been in terrible form in the five-day format
- His Test future appears to rest on his performance against India in June
Warner, 36, is a veteran of six series versus England but his chance of a seventh appears to hinge on his performance against India in June’s World Test Championship final.
Australia are scheduled to select their tour squads for the one-off match at the Kia Oval plus the first two of five matches that follow versus Ben Stokes‘ in-form team next week.
However, both coach Andrew McDonald and national selector George Bailey have stopped short of endorsing the 103-cap batsman for automatic inclusion against the old enemy amid his drastic slump in form.
Warner has struck just one 50 across nine Tests spanning the past 12 months – a double hundred off South Africa in Melbourne last Christmas that swells his overall average during that period to 28.92.
They will also undoubtedly consider his torment at the hands of Stuart Broad in particular on the 2019 tour here when he averaged just 9.5 – the worst by any opener to play 10 innings in a Test series.
‘How each player finishes is always different: some want to go out in a certain way, and others are ok with potentially being dropped out of sides but at the moment Dave is fully in our plans for the World Test Championship,’ said McDonald, who saw his side lose 2-1 in India last month.
Bailey also refused to look beyond the WTC final, despite naming Warner amongst 24 centrally-contracted Australian male cricketers for 2023-24 on Thursday.
Intriguingly, Marcus Harris, a rival left-handed opener, was another of the recipients, with an enthusiastic Bailey citing his ‘really good, strong record against England.’ On cue, Harris began the County Championship season with a hundred and a half-century for Gloucestershire against Glamorgan.
Harris was held in reserve last winter, but a sign that Australia are lining up plans B, C and D to partner Usman Khawaja at the top of the order came when they selected Matt Renshaw as opener for their A team’s ongoing series in New Zealand – one in which the English-manufactured Dukes balls are being used.
Renshaw was used lower down the order in India, a tour which saw Warner fly home during the second of two defeats with concussion and a fractured elbow, after being struck by a Mohammad Siraj bouncer.
Cameron Bancroft, the leading run scorer in the recently-concluded Sheffield Shield, is hoping to put further pressure on those above him in the pecking order by featuring for Somerset in the first four rounds of the Championship.
Travis Head also showed how accomplished a player he has become, by deputising on the subcontinent, although it is thought he will slot in behind Marcus Labuschagne and Steve Smith at no 5 over here – a sign that his attacking against the softer, old ball is valued more highly than his ability to combat a precocious new one.
Warner has vowed to play international cricket until 2024 regardless of his Ashes fate but his struggles have been magnified by his tepid performances at the Indian Premier League.
A drastically different format it might be, but Warner’s lack of personal form has dragged down Delhi, the team he captains, and plunged them to three defeats and the bottom of the table.
Warner temporarily became the competition’s leading run scorer on Saturday before losing the accolade later in the day to Ruturaj Gaikwad – but his 158 runs have chewed up too many deliveries, coming at a standstill strike rate of 117. In contrast to his barnstorming youth, he is the only one of the top 30 most prolific batters not to have hit a six.