David Warner is typically bullish about extending his Test career, even going as far to claim he’s “not in a rut” as pressure grows on selectors to tap the struggling veteran on the shoulder.
The 36-year-old opener returned to Sydney on Thursday after his India tour was cut short by a fractured elbow and told reporters he wanted to keep playing all international formats until next year.
Despite a three-year stretch where he has scored just one hundred and four half-centuries while averaging 29.48 at Test level, including a mere 16 runs from three bats in India, the left-hander somehow believes he’s not struggling.
Warner is delusional if he doesn’t think he’s genuinely in a rut. It’s almost like he’s taunting the selectors, probably suspecting – as many of us do – that they don’t have the gumption to pull the trigger on his Test career.
“I scored 200 a couple of weeks ago so I’m not in a rut,” he said in reference to his double-century at the MCG, nearly a couple of months ago.
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“I think it’s the challenge – it’s every four years when you go to India, it’s a tough one.
“I’ve always said I’m playing until 2024. If the selectors feel that I’m not worthy of my (Test) spot, then so be it, and I can push on to the white-ball stuff.”
Chief selector George Bailey and his panel of Tony Dodemaide and coach Andrew McDonald was named in the 16-man ODI squad for the three-match series in India next month so he will be rejoining the Australian camp in a few weeks time after the hairline fracture in his elbow has healed.
He was also concussed during his first-innings failure in the second Test at Delhi but has been cleared of any serious ramifications from that knock to the head from a bouncer.
“I’ve got the next 12 months, a lot of cricket’s ahead for the team and if I can keep scoring runs and putting my best foot forward for the team and I can help my spot, it’d be great for the team,” he said.
“It’s easy pickings (for critics) when you’re 36 going on 37 so I’ve seen it before with the ex-players as well.
“At the end of the day, for me, if I’m taking pressure off the rest of the other guys and no one’s worrying about the rest of the team, I’m happy to do that.”
But that’s the main problem – he’s not “taking pressure off the rest of the team” due to his prolonged form slump at opener.
First drop Marnus Labuschagne is being exposed to the new ball more often than he should and when Australia have a brittle middle and lower order, as has been seen in India, a struggling opener can have a domino effect.
While he won’t be playing India in the final two Tests of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series, Warner is planning on returning for the World Test Championship final at The Oval in June before the Ashes.
His record in England is poor and Dodemaide refused to give any clarity around Warner’s position, or the team make-up at all, earlier this week when he told reporters in Delhi that they had a “clear focus” on the remaining two matches in India.
Dodemaide said they would “address the Ashes planning” after the India tour and that were “committed to picking the best fit and available players for Test series, particularly something as big as the Ashes”.
Which is politician speak for saying something but not really saying anything at all.
Picking the best available players – a revolutionary idea. Bravo.
Sadly for Warner, after a stellar career with 8157 runs from 103 Tests and 25 centuries, he is no longer one of the best available options. Whether it’s a converted opener like Travis Head or a recall for Matt Renshaw, Marcus Harris or Cameron Bancroft, they’re all better options than hoping Warner will suddenly break out of his lengthy rut which is apparent to nearly everybody, it seems.
Despite the circuitous route he took to the Test team via T20 cricket and initially being snubbed at first-class level for NSW, he will go down as one of Australia’s all-time great openers.
His numbers put him up there alongside Matthew Hayden, Arthur Morris, Bob Simpson, Mark Taylor and Justin Langer.
But his recent numbers show that he is no longer justifying his place in the side.