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David Warner's unlikely partner in pairs

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5 days ago
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When David Warner recorded his pair of ducks in last week’s fourth Test at Old Trafford, several commentators expressed surprise about how rare this has been for Australian openers in recent times.

We have to go back a quarter of a century, to Mark Taylor’s first Test match as captain, to find the last example of a pair made by an Australian opening batsman.

Of course, Taylor recovered from this inauspicious start in Pakistan to be one of the country’s finest leaders and top-order batsmen.

Before that? For those of us who can remember the dramatic Ashes series in England from 1972 it is still quite a shock to identify the opener who made a pair.

Ross Edwards forced his way into the Australian squad after a stellar first class season in 1971-72 when he made four centuries.

The 29-year-old Western Australian was selected to make his debut in the middle order in the second Test at Lord’s, alongside his state teammate, Bob Massie.

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While Edwards made 28, the swing of Massie took an incredible 16 wickets in the match.

Before opener Bruce Francis was injured during the third Test at Nottingham, he had not made much impact at the top of the order. Edwards was called upon in the second innings as Australia sought to set their opponents a total.

Incredibly, he made 170 not out, sharing century stands with each of the Chappell brothers.

It looked like the emergency had brought the best out of Edwards and Australia had found an opener. So when the fourth Test team was selected for Headingley, Edwards opened with Keith Stackpole.

The low-scoring match was best known for the bare pitch created by fungus and exploited by Derek Underwood.

Yet Edwards never faced the left-arm spin of the man known as ‘Deadly’, as he was caught behind by Allan Knott twice before he had scored.

Indeed, he was dismissed first ball of the second innings off Geoff Arnold’s bowling as England claimed victory.

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The experiment ended then and there, as Edwards returned to the middle order in the final Test and made 79 in the win that ensured a drawn series.

Edwards went on to play 20 Tests and averaged 40.37 before he joined World Series Cricket in 1977. Many would remember his brilliant cover fielding during this era but who can recall his pair opening the batting?

So that 1972 series ended two-all. Australian supporters will be hoping that is not the final result of the current series – and David Warner will certainly be hoping for some runs, just as Ross Edwards must have been after his pair 47 years ago.