David Warner should not be in the World Cup squad that travels to the UK in late May.
The 32-year-old’s on-field exploits are well documented – Warner has been the most explosive and damaging batsman Australia has had in its ranks since Adam Gilchrist revolutionised the wicketkeeper-batsman role in the early 2000s.
His current run in the Indian Premier League has been spectacular, making headlines all over the world for his batting craft and consistent performances.
Coming off his 12-month ban, the only cricket Warner has been able to play has been in the shortest format of the game, and his form has been impressive.
Yet calls for Warner to be a lock for the Australian line-up come the World Cup are flawed.
The suspension itself may or may not cause fractures within the dressing room, however the argument that he should not be in the squad goes beyond that.
Scoring runs in the last fortnight has masked the value of David Warner to Australian ODI cricket.
Naturally, recency bias writes headlines and drives opinion.
Put simply, prior to the suspension, Warner’s spot in the country’s best ODI side was questionable.
His prolific 2016-17 season, where he scored 1100 at an average of 78.6, was followed by a painfully mediocre 2017-18, averaging just 31.8, which was inflated by a single performance of 124 against India.
There was a certain section of the Australian cricket fan base that was questioning why Warner was one of the first picked players at the time.
We are in 2019 and David Warner has just returned to playing cricket, exclusively playing in the shortest format of the game.
Australian cricket will be able to handle Warner’s re-inclusion at some stage, but a longer period of sustained high-level performances is surely necessary.
What Warner stands to offer the Australian team is no different to what any other player in the existing line-up provides.
The main positive aspect of the Australian cricket team over the last eight ODIs has been the performances by the top four batsmen.
The whitewash of Pakistan should be taken with a grain of salt, but what is clear is that Australia has a plethora of top-order players who are highly confident in their abilities.
Usman Khawaja is currently Australia’s best ODI batsman, Aaron Finch defied all odds and scored more than 400 runs in a five-game series, Shaun Marsh is playing well and has an excellent record in the UK, while Glenn Maxwell is the X-factor Australia can capitalise on.
Heading into the World Cup, there is simply no need for Warner to be included.
He has a poor record playing in England, averaging 31 in ODIs, and has only shown an ability to bat at the top of the order.
There are a number of other options Australia should look towards if there is a top-order malfunction in the World Cup, or a change in the squad is required.
D’Arcy Short’s absence has been baffling and should be next in line for any position.
Alex Carey returning to the top of the order would also be a preferred move than the hasty inclusion of Warner, as would the flexible Shaun Marsh.
Finch has now cemented his spot in the team, which may have been the one opportunity for Warner to sneak back into the set-up.
World Cup squads are generally made up of 15 players, leaving room for just four extra players to travel with the team.
Of course, teams can exploit this and make moves as they feel necessary, but including Warner feels like a slap to the face of any domestic cricketer who put together strong showings in the BBL or the JLT one-day series at the start of the summer, or impressed in limited international opportunities.
It would be a waste to rush the 32-year-old back in, only to have him batting at five or six in a new role on the grandest stage for all ODI cricket.
The time and opportunities are better spent on players who have worked hard to earn international selection and seeing players like Ashton Turner or Ben McDermott get the opportunity to feature in the World Cup squad would place Australia in a far better situation overall.
We shouldn’t see Steve Smith in the squad, and that comes on the back of very little cricket and a need to have him ready for the Ashes.
Just because Warner is available and currently playing well in the IPL does not mean the Australian selectors should create a non-existent space for a player with questionable credentials.
Australia is currently tracking along reasonably in ODI cricket and will enter the World Cup with great confidence in its ability to construct a batting innings.
Whether that is true or not remains to be seen, but there is no pay-off to unreasonably rushing players in and jeopardising an already volatile team.
David Warner still has a future at the international level, but it simply makes no sense for it to commence at the 2019 ICC World Cup.