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David Warner’s struggles in the sub-continent have been talked about at length here by Roarers, and with Australia now holding the leverage and a genuine chance to win a rare series in India, it is time for the vice-captain to contribute more heavily.
The first question I ponder is whether or not Warner should be an automatic selection in Asian conditions. This is particularly the case when Usman Khawaja is left out of the XI replaced by Shaun Marsh, due to a ‘horses for courses’ approach.
Should the same apply for a struggling Warner who has averaged just 25.37 in Asia across his career, and only 24.3 in India?
Puzzling statistics those, for a phenomenal batsman who also has a raft of IPL runs to his name over the years.
While Warner’s statistics abroad more generally are a cause for concern, it seems to be the slow, low, turning conditions that he fancies the least. In South Africa, Warner has 543 runs from his three matches going at a tremendous average of 90.5 which he delivered in Australia’s series win in early 2014.
With conditions as close as you can get to those at home, it is no surprise Warner boasts such numbers there.
Cross to the UK where the seaming duke ball has caused some problems for Warner at times, he averages a reasonable 37 from his eight matches. Despite never really going on to make big, impactful scores on British soil, in the 2015 series loss he was far from Australia’s worst performer, notching five half-centuries.
I’m not in the business of calling batsmen ‘flat-track bullies’, and it’s the furthest thing I am trying to label Warner here. However, his record in India simply must improve, and with a highest score of 71 from five matches touring the country, Australia needs him now, more than ever.
Perhaps it’s Warner’s need to feel bat on ball as much as possible, or by looking to score off almost every ball that he undoes himself in Asia. Innings built on occupation of the crease, leaving a lot of deliveries and not going too hard at the ball were on display from Matt Renshaw and Steve Smith in Pune, during their fifty and century respectively.
I’m not sure Warner has quite grasped just how to bat in India to best advantage yet, or, he is hoping his own natural game can suffice, and for Australian fans, hopefully it can in Bangalore. The 30 year-old more recently looked to have adjusted the way he bats in 50-over cricket, with some more patient, controlled knocks in the home ODI series against New Zealand and Pakistan.
He is a supremely talented cricketer who has adjusted his batting to suit before, and it might help to do so again.
It’s almost assumed in the Australian cricket side right now – and for probably the last 18 months – that the two best batsmen of the team stand quite clear-cut from the rest, being the captain and the vice-captain.
So far one of these two has come to the party and made a significant impact with the bat. If Australia are to carry this scarily good momentum into the second Test match and beyond, they’re going to need the other one to fire too.