‘Changed the way the game is played’: Warner’s style irreplaceable
David Warner is irreplaceable, or at least the style of cricket he plays is, according to chairman of selectors George Bailey.
The aggressive left-hander made just 0 and 3 against the brutal South African attack on what their captain, Dean Elgar, suggested was a dangerous pitch during the first Test in Brisbane. It lasted just two days as Australia scrambled to a six-wicket win.
Warner, 36, is averaging under 21 in 10 Tests this year, raising questions about whether he should be chosen for tours of India and England next year, where he has struggled in the past.
But the double-edged sword is that Australia needs Warner at his bludging best to enhance their chances of breaking their series drought in both countries.
“The way Davey plays, I don’t think that’s going to be replaced,” Bailey said. “The way he’s taken the game on, moved the game forward, the record he has, that’s a challenge that every team faces when you remove someone who in many respects has changed the way the game is played.
“I don’t think we’ll be looking to replace David Warner. But I think we’ve got some strong candidates waiting in the wings to bat at the top of the order for Australia.”
David Warner plays a shot against South Africa.Credit:Getty
First cab off the rank would be Marcus Harris, 30, a seemingly permanent reserve batsman with the squad. A dominant player at state and county level, he has struggled at Test level, averaging 25 in 14 matches since his debut four years ago.
Cricket Australia is planning a celebration of Warner’s 100th Test in Melbourne on Christmas Eve before he walks out to bat in the Boxing Day Test, the biggest day on the cricketing calendar, needing just 78 runs for 8000.
They will go down as two enormous achievements, becoming the 14th Australian with 100 Tests and the eighth with 8000 runs, should he get there.
But as Bailey suggested, one of Warner’s most imposing statistics is his strike rate. Of the 15 Australian batsmen who have scored 6000 runs or more, Warner is all out on his own as the fastest scorer in Australian cricket among that upper echelon, with a strike rate of 71 runs per hundred balls.
David Warner will take the field in Melbourne on Boxing Day in his 100th Test match.Credit:Getty
Next is Matthew Hayden (60), Don Bradman and Ricky Ponting (59), Michael Clarke (56), Steve Smith and Justin Langer (54), Mark Waugh and Greg Chappell (52) and Mike Hussey (50).
Warner’s biggest problem this summer has been a failure to put away innocuous wide balls he would usually thrash through the covers. Three times in a row against a modest West Indian attack Warner was out to deliveries which are usually his bread and butter.
So while his fellow batsmen cashed in, Warner had a top score of 48 and a batting average of 25.5 for the two-Test series. This compares with Marnus Labuschage (highest score 204, average 167), Travis Head (175, 156), Steve Smith (200 not out, 128) and Usman Khawaja (65, 45).
Bailey is correct when says Warner doesn’t look out of form, he just keeps failing to cash in on opportunities.
“I think there’s runs around the corner for him,” Bailey said. “He’s moving well. He’s catching well. When people start to go – for want of a better way to put it – it’s the catching that goes, the movement goes.
“But he’s still an outstanding fielder, still fit as a fiddle. I think no doubt, and David would be the first to say this, he’d like a few more runs and to be contributing a bit more knowing the importance of that role at the top of the order. But I have full confidence that will come.”
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