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Why Warner could put franchise cricket above Aussie duty, Perth mayor's crowd solution, another nightmare drop stuns

28th December, 2023
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28th December, 2023
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David Warner could fire the first shot in the long-expected club v country war in Australian cricket with news that he might skip the upcoming white ball matches against the West Indies to play for the Dubai Capitals.

As news broke of his potential absence, Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) boss Todd Greenberg sounded the alarm that players will increasingly choose to play franchise cricket ahead of internationals, with Warner likely the canary in the coalmine for Australian players.

The opener will miss the Tests in Adelaide and Brisbane anyway, having announced that next week’s SCG Test will be his last in the format, but was expected to make the T20s and ODIs with a World Cup to be held in 2024.

Dubai Capitals, who are owned by Warner’s IPL franchise, Delhi Capitals, have ten matches scheduled between January 20 and February 10.

Australia face the Windies in three ODIs and three T20s between February 2-13 and he is also contracted to the Sydney Thunder, who could make the BBL finals which would take place between January 19-24.

Dubai recently launched their social media campaign for the ILT20 season, with Warner front and centre.

Greenberg told SEN radio that Warner would apply for a No Objection Certificate (NOC) – required for Australians to play in foreign leagues – and that the player’s union would support his claim.

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“I think the short answer to that is probably yes,” said the former NRL CEO, backing in the idea that players can pick and choose when they make themselves available for Australia.

“There’s no doubt in the next phase of Dave’s life he’s going to be looking to ply his trade where he gets the best return on his investment. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, in fact I’m encouraging him to do that.

“There will be times where he’ll be looking to miss certain games and tours. That’s the sort of flexibility we’ve got to get our heads around. Some people won’t like that, but that’s the modern world of which we’re living in and we have to embrace it.

“We’re in an era now where all our best players want to play red-ball cricket, want to wear the baggy green, male and female. We can’t take that for granted though because the next generation of player probably won’t think like that.

“I think that is a real challenge. That challenge is upon us right now, in my view, and we’ve got to make sure we understand those challenges and compete – because it’s getting away from us.”

On top of his calendar clash in the Middle East, Warner is also planning to take a helicopter to his brother’s wedding on the day after his retirement match at Sydney so that he can turn out for the Thunder afterwards.

“The last time he talked to me he was talking about going to his brother’s wedding and taking a helicopter if it’s viable,” his manager, James Erskine, told The Age, while the Thunder confirmed that he will be featuring for them.

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Perth mayor proposes bizarre Test solution

Basil Zempilas, the Mayor of Perth, has called for the annual day/night Test to be moved to the West in the future, despite a finishing time late in the evening in the more populous states on the East Coast.

Doubling down on Western Australia’s recalcitrance over the poor attendances that dogged the West Tests this year, Zempilas went into bat for his city and said that change was necessary to improve crowd numbers.

“If we keep just trotting up cricket at Optus Stadium in the hottest part of our year, and when there’s so many other things on, we’re probably gonna get similar crowds,” he said on 6PR Breakfast radio.

“So we do need to shift the needle a little bit.

“Perhaps, because we love going to the Scorchers, because we’re accustomed to going to nighttime cricket at Optus, maybe we need to experiment with a day-night Test match over here.

“Bugger what they say on the east coast! Haven’t we had enough about being dictated to! In all seriousness, it’s the holiday time of the year, kids can stay up later.”

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“Boxing Day will always be in Melbourne, we accept that,” he continued.

“Sydney’s Test is gonna be around the new year. They’re gonna get the benefit of those holiday period test matches.”

Earlier, South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas took aim at Cricket Australia for their scheduling of the Adelaide Test, calling the governing body ‘disgraceful’ for their treatment of his state after again giving them the West Indies as opponents.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 17: Fans watch the final session during day four of the Men's First Test match between Australia and Pakistan at Optus Stadium on December 17, 2023 in Perth, Australia (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Fans watch the final session during day four of the First Test at Optus Stadium. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

“I hope there is a good turnout because we love our cricket,” said the Premier to local newspaper The Advertiser.

“We love our sport but fair’s fair.

“Cricket Australia really gave us a kick in the guts by giving us West Indies two years in a row, starting the Test on a Wednesday and prioritising Perth. Well, look how that turned out for them.”

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Perth saw poor attendances with fewer than 10,000 in the ground on the day Nathan Lyon took his 500th Test wicket, causing widespread criticism of Cricket Australia’s scheduling.

“The fact that we get West Indies two summers in a row is frankly disgraceful, particularly given the deliberate decision to schedule Australia versus Pakistan, in Perth straight up over and above Adelaide,” said the Premier.

“Cricket Australia have reaped what they sowed by showing contempt to South Australian cricket attendees with the results of the crowd they got in Perth.”

Malinauskas also complained about the early start for the Adelaide game.

“But the second thing is starting the Adelaide Test on a Wednesday,” he said.

“It is a complete and utter disgrace. Now, I appreciate that international cricket scheduling is complex, but at some point or another, cricket officials have to be willing to put spectators and fee-paying members first.

“Starting a Test on a Wednesday means people have to take time off work in order to be able to attend the cricket.

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“Now, buying a ticket to the cricket isn’t cheap as it is but when you lay on top the cost of taking a day off work, it really stacks up. It really adds up.

“And, for the life of me, I don’t know what justification there is for starting the test on a Wednesday. Maybe a Thursday or Friday – but a Wednesday is a disgrace.”

‘Like hitting a brick wall’: Shafique hooked after horror drop

Pakistan opener Abdullah Shafique’s fielding has been called into question again after a horror drop of Mitch Marsh off Aamer Jamal that could have seen the tourists take over the Melbourne Test.

Marsh was on 20 at the time with Australia a round 100 ahead and, for good measure, a misfield on the next ball gifted him a four.

Shafique had already shelled David Warner early in the match on 2, and though he took a catch to dismiss Marnus Labuschagne later in the first innings, his fielding has been notably poor throughout.

On the Fox Cricket call, Mark Waugh described the fielder’s hands as ‘like hitting a brick wall’ and insisted that captain Shan Masood had to pull Shafique from the cordon.

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“At some stage, they have to get the hook out and say ‘out of there, son’,” said Junior.

“It’s like a crocodile jaw trying to catch a ball. It’s unfortunate but you’ve got to get him out of there, his confidence is so low at the moment.

“The Test match was on that catch. You have to take it, it’s regulation first slip.”

Over on Seven, Pakistan great Waqar Younis lamented the lost opportunity and, not long after, Babar Azam had taken the opener’s place.

“This might be the moment that Pakistan miss,” he said.

“This was a big, big opportunity which Abdullah Shafique, who is not having a great time in the slip, and this might be the difference between winning and losing this game.

“Pakistan fought so, so hard through all of this match and that catch might cost them this match. Might.

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“They have to catch easy, this was easy for Abdullah Shafique who is having a horror time in the slip.”

‘No chance’: Punter’s blunt verdict on Green opener calls

Ricky Ponting has rubbished calls for Cameron Green to take over from David Warner when the veteran Australian opener retires, urging selectors to pick a specialist replacement.

Ponting’s former teammate Simon Katich is among the prominent figures who believe emerging allrounder Green could step up at the top of the order.

But legendary former captain Ponting believes a specialist is required with a long-term view towards blockbuster series against India and England in the next two years.

Asked on Thursday about the prospect of Green replacing Warner, Australia’s all-time leading Test run-scorer was blunt.

“No chance,” Ponting said on the Seven Network.

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“Time to go back and find Australia’s next best opening batsman with the India Test series and Ashes in mind.”

Warner, who will retire after the third Test against Pakistan in Sydney, this week nominated Marcus Harris as his preferred replacement.

It sparked a stinging response from former Australian selector Jamie Cox, who said Warner should not be publicly voicing an opinion on the matter.

Harris is one of three specialist openers in the running for a recall for two home Tests against West Indies in January, along with Matt Renshaw and Cameron Bancroft.

Ponting has previously thrown his support behind Bancroft, who played the last of his 10 Tests away to England in July 2019.

Bancroft has elevated his game over the last two summers and was the leading run-scorer in last season’s Sheffield Shield, with 945 runs at 59.06.

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The 31-year-old heads this season’s leaderboard with 512 runs at 56.88.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 28: Cameron Bancroft of Australia A bats during the four day match between Australia A and New Zealand A at Allan Border Field on August 28, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Cameron Bancroft bats for Australia A. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

“If you look at those three guys, I think it’s quite clear that Bancroft is the one that’s got the runs on the board and I wouldn’t be surprised if they (selectors) go that way,” Ponting told SEN a month ago.

“If you wind the clock back about six months it might have been a slightly different order than what it is now.

“I think they probably had Harris as the one that would come back in a while ago.

“To me now it sort of feels (there’s) a bit more of a groundswell behind Cameron Bancroft getting first crack.”

Another of Ponting’s former teammates, Mike Hussey, also believes a specialist opener is required to replace Warner.

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As well as calls for Green to open, there have been suggestions that Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head or Mitch Marsh could move up the order to make room in the line-up for the allrounder.

“Opening is one of the toughest jobs in the game,” Hussey said this week.

“So for me personally, if I was selecting, I’d be going for a traditional, proper opener; someone who’s done it for a long period of time, because if you haven’t done it much in your first-class career it’s going to be very difficult to come up the order.”

Pakistan slammed for ‘ridiculous’ time-wasting

Pakistan’s time-wasting tactics have drawn the ire of the ‘grumpy old men’ in the commentary box, with Ian Smith, Mark Waugh and Michael Vaughan unleashing an epic rant after a lengthy delay in play.

Batter Aamer Jamal was hit on the back by Cummins, with the tourists using the incident as an excuse to slow the game right down even after a start delayed by a wet outfield.

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“All of a sudden we’ve got three attending the two Pakistan batsmen and the Australians are coming out with a drink as well,” said Smith.

“There’s 25 minutes gone and Cameron Green is coming out (with pads) because it looks like Nathan Lyon’s not too far away.

“We sound like grumpy old men up here. We’ve been going for 25 minutes and there’s 20,000 people who’ve sat patiently inside and outside wondering why they’re not out there anyway with a little bit of drizzle around.

“We talk about over rates and entertainment, value for money – what did he do then, the physio? It’s ridiculous. You’ve got to call it as you see it.

“It used to be a game of attrition and that meant you had a drink every hour. Towards the end of the session you started to get really thirsty, but that was it. It was called a Test match for that reason.”

Waugh questioned how much impact the physio could have on a body blow.

“This is where the umpires have to say ‘hang on’,” he said.

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“He’s going to be worrying about his back, but that’s just part of batting, isn’t it? Wearing a few on the back or shoulder.”

“What’s the physio going to do for a ball on the back? What can he possibly do for him? You’ve just got to say no, off, it’s part of the game. He’s getting a little massage now. Seriously, he’s banging him on the back.”

Vaughan chose to see the funny side.

“(Umpire) Michael Gough is thinking he’ll have a drink,” he joked. “Get some coffees and teas and a few biscuits.

“It’s three grumpy old men but you’re right. 12 overs were lost yesterday, 12 out of the allotted overs of the day, that are put to one side and no-one bats an eyelid.”

Later, the start of the second session was delayed after third umpire Richard Illingworth was stuck in a lift, prompting another Vaughan outburst.

“You reckon cricket is the number one sport that has stoppages for bizarre things?” said Vaughan.

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“We’ve got a stop in play because the third umpire is stuck in a lift.

“You’ve got two umpires ready to go in the middle, you’ve got the Pakistan team ready to go and the two batters out there ready to play. We’ve had time taken out of the game earlier because of a bit of drizzle.

“Now everything’s ready to go and we’ve got a third umpire stuck in a lift.

“Do you know of any sport where they have so many different delays for so many different things? It’s never just the same thing.”

With AAP

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