Monthly Archives: July 2023


I’ve become weary of writing about the failings of David Warner and his dead weight on the team, but his comments in the press today can’t be ignored. He is living in denial.

He’s quoted as saying: ‘I’ve played a lot better than what I did last time [in 2019]. I’ve got in good positions, I’m looking to score, I’ve had a couple of unlucky dismissals and then dismissals where I’ve tried to negate the swing or the seam and it’s caught the outside edge of the bat.’

So that’s it. He’s been ‘unlucky’.

‘I’m looking to score,’ he says. Then SCORE! Please!

And playing better? Yes, his average of 25.13 so far this series does indeed surpass the 9.50 he recorded in the 2019 Ashes series, but it’s hardly good enough for Australia’s Test opener in one of the toughest series the team could wish to play. In a team of only eleven, Warner is the sixth highest run scorer. Even Mitchell Marsh has outscored Warner, and he’s played only four innings versus Warner’s eight. Warner’s average for the series is on a par with that of Carey (23.14), Starc (25.00) and Cummins (23.40), and he is supposed to be one of the team’s best players.

Warner isn’t the only Australia batter to underperform – Smith and Green are guilty, too – but Warner’s lack of runs stretches back several years and yet he keeps getting picked. One wonders if and how the selectors will take responsibility for choosing him and keeping Marcus Harris, who averaged 57.13 for Glamorgan this summer, on the bench.

Make Johnson a Selector

I couldn’t agree more with Mitchell Johnson in his selection of the playing XI for the Fourth Test; i.e.

M Harris

U Khawaja

M Labuchschagne

S Smith

T Head

M Marsh

A Carey

M Neser

M Starc

P Cummins

T Murphy

Johnson writes, “Put simply, Warner goes out because he’s out of form, Michael Neser comes in because he’s in form and Mitch Marsh retains his place for the same reason.

I would opt for Marcus Harris to open the batting with Usman Khawaja and Neser to replace Scott Boland, with Cam Green missing out despite declaring himself fit to play.”

How easy was that? The arguments for omitting Warner are too obvious to repeat (just see our last three or so posts). Neser has been on fire in England his summer, and while Hazlewood is a great bowler, Neser’s form with both bat and ball should not be ignored any longer. I’ve always been a Mitchell Marsh skeptic but Green hasn’t nailed it and Marsh played a blinder in the Third Test so why not turn him loose again? Green remains the future of the team, you would think, but some time out of the XI won’t hurt him and might even help.

Sure, Harris, Neser and Marsh may or may not fire in the Fourth Test, but they are likely to give Australia the best chance in a must-win game.

Anyone But Him

Oh, for Pete’s sake. After Ricky Ponting, now Greg Chappell has joined the chorus of ‘experts’ backing David Warner despite the absence of any evidence to suggest he is capable of performing as Australia’s Test opener.

“I think with a champion – and I consider David a champion – you give a champion one game too many rather than one game too few,” Chappell is reported to have said.

He’s had one game too many already, Greg. More than one.

It’s not enough to say ‘we think he’ll come good’ (no he won’t).

It’s facile to say ‘he performs well when his back’s against the wall’ (no, he doesn’t).

It’s meaningless to say ‘he’s batting well in the nets’ (Tests aren’t played in the nets).

It’s true there is no like-for-like replacement for Warner. It’s also true that whoever is chosen to open the batting may indeed fail, whether it’s Marsh, Green, Head, Harris or Renshaw. I don’t care. Pick one of them. I don’t care which one. With Warner barely averaging 23 on a very good day if the pitch is flat, and failing to last a single over against Broad when there is any kind of lateral movement, it doesn’t matter who you pick. Any of the candidates has at least as good as chance as Warner and is likely as not to do better. Anyone but Warner.

If anyone is interested, a spot poll in the Fairfax press today produced the following results from readers:

Looking for Excuses?

Look, I have tremendous respect for Ricky Ponting. His career speaks for itself and I think he is usually an incisive analyst of the game. But comments like those he made today recommending the selectors stick with David Warner are positively damaging.

An article on Cricket Australia’s website reads as follows:

“I’m probably more inclined to give David another opportunity and hope he can get through Stuart Broad and go on and make a big score,” Ponting said in an International Cricket Council podcast.

“When someone’s got you out 17 times, it does become as much a mental – or probably more of a mental – battle than it does a technical battle.

“But just thinking about the series, I’d be inclined to stick with David Warner.”

Seriously, how many more opportunities does Warner need? We’re reduced to ‘hoping’ now. Is it just me or is Ponting saying two diametrically opposed things at once here? He seems to be admitting Warner can’t hold his own against Broad but Ponting ‘hopes he can get through’ because he is ‘just thinking about the series’. What does that even mean?

We here at Aussie Cricket Lover have been harsh critics of both Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Marsh, both of whom have performed very well in this Ashes series. Contrary to our expectations, Starc has been reasonably accurate, and Marsh, well, enormous kudos to him. He appears to have embraced his inner Bison and decided it’s now or never, I’ll be a beast and if it doesn’t work, I’ll have no regrets. Maybe he’s decided the Bazball approach is the way to go. It’s only been one Test so far, but it worked at Headingley, even though Australia lost.

It’s wonderful to be proved wrong. It’s one of the best perks of being an armchair critic. But Warner’s form is terminal. For Ponting to be urging his retention in the team with no justification is downright irresponsible.

The Millstone Gets Heavier

I’ve been ranting for at least two years (e.g here and here) about the selectors’ stubborn insistence on picking David Warner despite precious little evidence that he justifies his place in the team. The selectors appear not to care, deciding instead the 36-year old deserves his spot for runs he made so many years ago that many younger cricket fans don’t even remember.

It’s a bizarre stance for the selectors to take. If nothing else, the Bairstow fracas demonstrates the huge significance of the Ashes in the sporting culture of both nations. You want to maximise your chances, don’t you? Why would you deliberately go into such a massive series with a such a prominent millstone around your neck? It’s difficult to understand.

It’s true Marcus Harris has fluffed the opportunities he’s had at Test level thus far (average of 25.29 in 14 Tests). No question about it. But it’s just as true that his performances over the past two years have conspicuously eclipsed those of Warner. In the 2023 country cricket season, Harris made 457 runs for Gloucestershire at an average of 57.13, with two centuries and two fifties in nine innings. The year before that, he made 726 runs at 42.71 for Gloucestershire across 17 innings. In the 2022-23 Sheffield Shield, he made 601 runs at 37.56 in the 2022-23 Sheffield Shield (i.e. okay but not stellar).

How does Warner compare? Let’s assume for a moment that Warner’s historically abysmal Ashes tour of England in 2019 (95 runs across five Tests at an average of 9.50, including three ducks and five single-digit scores) was some sort of aberration. (It wasn’t, but let’s for a moment say it was.)

He played two of the four Tests in the subsequent home series against India (which Australia lost), making 67 runs at 16.75 across four innings. In the 2021-22 home Ashes series, he rebounded a little, with 273 runs at 34.13 including two 90+ scores but no tons. In the three Test series in Pakistan (which Australia won 1-0), he maintained that level, averaging 33.80 across 5 innings, nearly achieving the bare minimum Australia requires of its Test opener. His highest score in the two away Tests against Sri Lanka was 25 (series drawn 1-1).

In two Tests against West Indies and three against a very lacklustre and dispirited South Africa during the 2022-23 Australian summer, he made 315 runs at 39.38, but the data needs close examination. Those 315 runs included one innings of 200 against a totally demoralized South African attack. I’m not saying that knock must be dismissed, just heavily discounted. After all, Alex Carey made 111, Smith 85, Head 51 and Green 51 not out in the same innings (Australia made 575 for 8). Not the most challenging of conditions, you’d have to say. Stripping out that one big score, Warner made 115 runs at 16.43 in his other seven innings that summer. He then made scores of 1, 10 and 15 (average 8.67) in three innings on the tour of India before getting injured. And then he walks into the Ashes team.

Why? It doesn’t make sense.

In addition to everything else, it isn’t fair. The selectors always tell players they’ll be rewarded for performances. Tell that to players like Harris and Neser, who can’t get a game even after doing all that’s asked of them.

Warner, meanwhile, has a history of failures in English conditions. Did he play county cricket like Harris? No, he played IPL. The selectors picked him anyway, despite little evidence that he can play in England, and despite a recent history of deteriorating performances.

So far across the World Test Championship final against India and the first three Ashes Tests, Warner has 185 runs at an average of 23.13 but has failed to reach double figures fifty percent of the time (4 innings out of 8). His top score of 66 in the Second Test was on a slow, flat pitch on which Smith made 110, Head 77 and Labuschagne 47, not to mention Stokes’ 155 and Duckett’s two scores of 98 and 83. You could say Warner underperformed in that game, too. The pitch in the Third Test at Headingley is much harder and faster than in the first two Tests and batting clearly is more challenging for all players, but once again Warner’s failures were conspicuous. He lasted only five balls in both innings, falling to Broad yet again. It’s painful to watch. The selectors seem to cherry-pick data points such as his 200 against South Africa to justify Warner’s inclusion, but they fail to acknowledge that it’s Warner’s occasional decent score that is the aberration. The failures are the norm.

Meanwhile, the selectors and his teammates (bless ’em) tell us they ‘back Davey to come good’ and he’s ‘batting better than ever in the nets’. Terrific. The next time a Test match is played in the nets, I’ll put some money on him.

I have no idea whether Harris would succeed if given another chance, but isn’t it common sense to pick the best players you have available, then hope for the best? Australia needs its best openers for the Ashes. Warner is not that. He simply isn’t, and hasn’t been for some time.

I don’t get it. Where is Trevor Hohns when you need him?