The Roar
The Roar



Turning a blind eye to Warner’s woes proving costly for Aussies - as McDonald sticks his head in sand yet again

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7th July, 2023
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The Australian cricket team proudly wears the national coat of arms with a kangaroo and emu, famously for the reason they are two native animals who will never take a backward step.

They might as well replace the emu with an ostrich such is their propensity to bury their head in the sand when the topic of David Warner’s woeful recent record as an opener comes up. 

Coach Andrew McDonald was at it again after day two of the third Ashes Test in Headingley when Warner fell for one to Stuart Broad, the 17th time the English seamer has claimed his wicket. 

“When you have an opening bowler bowling to an opening batsman, they are more likely to get them out with a new ball at times,” McDonald said. “The three 50-plus run partnerships that Usman [Khawaja] and David have put on in the series have been telling and had great impact.

“So not here to discuss David Warner at this stage.”

If there was an elephant in the press conference room, you can bet your bottom dollar that McDonald would ignore it.

Warner lasted just seven deliveries he faced from the 37-year-old across the two innings, nicking off both times. 


Australia should be basking in an almost invincible position after leading by 35 runs on the first innings – if both openers were doing their job. 

If an opener is not making runs, they at least need to be taking the shine off the ball to protect the middle order.  

Usman Khawaja is filling that brief – he’s lasted more than 900 deliveries in this series – and he’s the leading run-scorer with 356 from six knocks. 

Warner is doing neither – he got starts in both innings at Lord’s, highlighted by 66 in the first innings – but his return of 141 runs at 23.5 is worse than his previous overall record in England while being an improvement on his 2019 nightmare Ashes tour of 95 runs at 9.5.

Stuart Broad celebrates dismissing David Warner.

Stuart Broad celebrates dismissing David Warner. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

As it stands, Australia at 4-116 are ahead by 142 with the Test on a knife’s edge when they should be in a much safer position. 

Even a modest partnership of 50 for the first wicket would have been enough to take the air out of England’s tyres. But they were up and about after Broad’s effortless removal of his bunny. 


Glenn McGrath’s 19 times he dismissed Mike Atherton and Alec Bedser taking Arthur Morris’ wicket on 18 occasions are the only instances of a bowler holding such dominance over an opposing batter. 

Warner stated optimistically recently that he wanted to retire after the SCG Test in January in a game of chicken with the selectors, who appear unlikely to do anything but chicken out when it comes to the reality that the 36-year-old left-hander is no longer up to Test standard.

If he does get another chance, maybe stop smiling all the time, particularly when you get out. Since his return from the ball-tampering ban, Warner’s been on a charm offensive to be Mr Nice Guy on the field.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that – but if you’re going to go down, go down swinging. Warner’s intensity used to be his strength, a source of intimidation for opposing bowlers. The Bull has been neutered. Get the snarl back, without the sledging or carry-on which damaged his reputation, and maybe the big scores will return as well.

His extended run of outs is having an adverse effect on Marnus Labuschagne, who has lost top spot on the ICC rankings after now going 21 innings without a hundred.

It’s a very Labuschagne lean spell, not necessarily a form slump in the traditional sense. You can’t really say he’s struggling but he’s definitely not in form. 


After peeling off four hundreds, including a 204, in five consecutive innings in Sri Lanka, against the West Indies in Perth twice and in Adelaide, he’s not hit triple figures since.

But he’s only been out cheaply twice as he’s registered 595 at 33.06. Not the worst record going around at Test level by a long way but it’s brought his career average down from 60.82 in December to 53.8.

He’s playing at too many deliveries wide of off stump and even when he gets a start, which is more often than not, he’s not been looking as settled at the crease as previous years.

In the seemingly unlikely scenario of McDonald and selection cohorts George Bailey and Tony Dodemaide putting on their big boy pants and telling Warner his time is up, Marcus Harris is presumably the next cab off the rank after Matt Renshaw was culled from the squad earlier in the week. 

All-rounder Cameron Green is likely to be available for the fourth Test after sitting out this match with a slight hamstring strain and it would be harsh on Mitchell Marsh to get dropped after saving Australia’s bacon with his scorching 118 in the first innings. 

Not out overnight on 17, there’s  a distinct possibility Marsh could wrap up player of the match honours if he shines again with the bat in the second innings. 


The selectors could consider playing both Marsh and Green in the middle order and reinstate Travis Head to opener, a role he filled admirably in India.

Normally the seaming English conditions would make that option difficult for a strokeplayer like Head but due to the placid nature of the strips that have been rolled out this series, that option should not be discounted. 

The Aussies would be less likely to drop a frontline quick or Todd Murphy to accommodate the two all-rounders. 

First of all they need to salvage this Test, one that should be all but wrapped up by this stage. 

Warner has been a great player for a long time and it’s sad when a legend of Australian cricket does not see the writing on the wall and needs to be pushed out the door. 

But it’s long overdue for Warner and with Khawaja, Smith, Nathan Lyon, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood entering the final few years of their career, the selectors need to start regenerating the line-up with fresh blood.