‘At this stage’: Warner’s future under spotlight against South African pace attack
David Warner needs a strong series against South Africa to be sure of continuing his Test career despite support from coach Andrew McDonald.
The dynamic opener averaged just 25.5 in the just competed two-Test series against a modest West Indian side and is averaging only 23 in nine Tests this year.
Coach and selector Andrew McDonald claimed that despite the concerning numbers, Warner was in the selection panel’s plans for the tour of India in February and March “at this stage”.
“We’ll see what happens in the next three Test matches, but at this stage he’s firmly in our thoughts for India,” McDonald said before flying to Brisbane for the first Test against South Africa, beginning on Saturday.
Warner, 36, and the other Australian batsmen will be seriously challenged by South Africa’s heavy-duty pace attack, led by Kagiso Rabada, who has 257 wickets in 55 Tests at an average of 22.
Other members of South Africa’s pace battery are Anrich Nortje, 28, vying for the title of the world’s fastest bowler, tall left armer Marco Jansen, 22, who has 37 wickets in seven Tests at an average under 19, clever seamer Lungi Ngidi, 26, who has 49 wickets in 15 Tests at an average under 22, and young tearaway Gerald Coetzee, who is yet to play a Test.
Warner conceded recently that he did not know how much more Test cricket he would play but was keen to continue.
“I’ll look to try and get to the 2024 World Cup,” Warner told the Herald and The Age in October. “And I’ve got my goal set on playing next year in the 50-over World Cup [in India]. So for now, we’ll see how much Test cricket I’ve got left in me after this summer coming up and winter away.
“So from there that will make up my mind whether I’ll continue to play Test cricket and all three forms.”
After the three-match South African series Australia will tour India for four Tests, where Warner averages 24, and England, where he averages 26, including 95 runs at 9.5 during the last Ashes tour when Stuart Broad had by far the better of him.
Australian opener David Warner.Credit:Getty
Warner needs just 81 runs to become the eight Australian to score 8000 career runs and two more Tests to be the 14th Australian with 100 Tests. Significantly he has a strike rate of 71, which is imposing for Test cricket.
Of his 24 centuries, 18 have been made in Australia and three came during an exceptional 2014 tour of South Africa. Two were made on the 2017 tour of Bangladesh and one against Pakistan in the UAE, also in 2014. It has been seven series since he has matched or bettered his career average of 46, when he made his last century, against New Zealand almost three years ago.
Unlike Aaron Finch during the T20 World Cup, Warner has not looked out of form but has found some unfortunate ways of getting out. Three times in a row against the West Indies he was dismissed chasing wide balls.
He scored a run-a-ball century in a one-day match against England at the MCG three weeks ago.
McDonald was unable to say whether Warner’s age, 36, was a factor.
“If we keep picking him and he makes runs, then you know he’s back,” McDonald said.
“And if you keep picking him and he doesn’t, then he’s probably on the fade.
“I think it’s as simple as that.
“He’s in our plans for the immediate future, and we’ll see what unfolds from there.”
David Warner’s Test performances in 2022
- 30 (72) v England, Sydney, January
- 3 (18) v England, Sydney, January
- 0 (22) v England, Hobart, January
- 0 (3) v England, Hobart, January
- 68 (114) v Pakistan, Rawalpindi, March
- 36 (48) v Pakistan, Karachi, March
- 7 (16) v Pakistan, Karachi, March
- 7 (13) v Pakistan, Lahore, March
- 51 (91) v Pakistan, Lahore, March
- 25 (24) v Sri Lanka, Galle, June
- 10* (4) v Sri Lanka, Galle, June
- 5 (13) v Sri Lanka, Galle, July
- 24 (44) v Sri Lanka, Galle, July
- 5 (16) v West Indies, Perth, November
- 48 (71) v West Indies, Perth, November
- 21 (29) v West Indies, Adelaide, December
- 28 (36) v West Indies, Adelaide, December
McDonald insisted he was not concerned about Warner’s batting “at this stage”.
“His appetite for the work, in and around training is still there,” McDonald said.
“He’s busy at the crease, and you’ve seen signs that he is going well. He’s just found different ways to get out, and sometimes that can happen.
“He’s eager to continue on at this stage, he hasn’t hinted anything else.
“We are building towards a World Test Championship as well, and he wants to be part of that so that’s a clear focus for us and we’ve got South Africa as a part of that.
“And then on to India.
“So there’s no indication of anything else at the moment.”
Nor is McDonald concerned that the furore Warner caused on the eve of the Adelaide Test has been a distraction. He reacted angrily to Cricket Australia’s drawn out leadership ban review process and abandoned it.
“I think he’s shown in the past that he can move forward pretty quick,” McDonald said.
David Warner signs autographs for fans in Adelaide.Credit:AP
“He’s great at compartmentalising, separating the off-field from the on-field and I think most of the great champions do that very well.
“I sense this situation is no different.
“We respect and understand David’s decision to withdraw from that appeals process.
“He’s moved forward, we’re moving forward as a team and we’ve got a seriously good opponent confronting us at the Gabba so our focus is firmly on that. And so is David’s.”
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