Tag Archives: Warner


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?

Warner: Enough Already

Enough is enough. David Warner must not be picked for the WTC final or the Ashes. It’s been fifteen months since we last called on the selectors to put Warner out to pasture (see Yesterday’s Hero). He’s still here, and dragging down the team’s chances every time he walks out to bat. It was alarming to see Andrew Macdonald quoted as saying “[a]t the moment Dave’s fully in our plans for the World Test Championship” after the end of the India Test series. He needs to explain the logic underlying that statement.

Ricky Ponting, too, seemed to share this sentiment, saying “I think they’ll definitely want to play him in the World Test Championship match” without giving a reason. Even Ponting, however, seems confused, saying in the same interview that he thinks Warner missed a chance to retire during the Australian summer and that “David’s record in the UK is not as strong as it is in some other places around the world”. Ricky, if he should have retired and plays poorly in England, why on earth would they select him for England? It makes no sense.

In 28 Test innings in 17 Tests since December 2021, Warner has made 847 runs at an average of 31.37. This is already mediocre for a Test opener, but if you strip out his aberrant 200 against a weak South African team in the first innings of the Second Test of the 2022-23 home series, it drops to 24.88. And it’s worth noting Alex Carey also made 111 in that same innings, while Steve Smith made 85 and both Travis Head and Cameron Green each made 51. So not the toughest of assignments, really.

If you look only at his most recent 7 Tests (11 innings) from the beginning of the 2022-23 home summer to the Second Test against India in Delhi when he retired hurt, he’s made 341 runs at 31.00. Strip out that one-off double ton against the Proteas, and his average for that period drops to 12.82. And this is the guy who averaged 9.50 across ten Test innings (including three consecutive ducks) in the most recent Ashes series in England in 2019 when he became Stuart Broad’s bunny.

It’s delusional to imagine Warner will do well in England this summer. And there are – for a change – a number of compelling alternatives.

*Renshaw’s number include Sheffield Shield, PM’s XI vs West Indies and three Tests. ^Harris’ numbers include Sheffield Shield and PM’s XI.

The most obvious is Cameron Bancroft, who deserves a Test recall several years after Sandpapergate. He’s the leading run-scorer in the 2022-23 Sheffield Shield, with 849 runs at 60.64, including four centuries. And while I don’t recommend picking Test players based on white ball, it doesn’t hurt his case that he’s made 327 runs at 65.40 in this season’s Marsh One Day Cup.

Or there’s Matt Renshaw. Although Renshaw failed in the three innings he played in India this time, it’s worth remembering he made a match-winning 68 in the first innings of the First Test in Pune in 2017 (when Steve O’Keefe cleaned up with 12 wickets). He’s had only an average sort of red ball season in 2022-23 with 501 runs at 41.75 including 81 and 101 not out for the PM’s XI against the West Indies but made 194 runs at 64.67 in the Marsh One Day Cup. He also made 620 runs at 47.69 for Somerset in the England County Championship in 2022, so he knowns English conditions.

Then there’s Marcus Harris, who continues to fall short when he gets his opportunities but who still represents a better bet than Warner. Harris only played 7 Shield games this season, making 468 runs at 39.00, but scoring two centuries and two 50s. Like Renshaw, he did well in the Marsh One Day Cup (315 runs at 63.00) and knows English conditions , making 726 runs at 42.70 for Gloucestershire in 2022.

Any one of these guys, who have all played Test cricket, could do a better job than Warner in England, although Bancroft is the obvious chance given the numbers he has racked up recently.

Cruel But Fair

There’s a bit of debate in the press about Ashton Agar’s omission from the Second Test XI and the last-minute inclusion of Matt Kuhnemann. Some are suggesting Agar was poorly treated and should have played.

Respectfully, I question that.

Selectors often make mistakes. Omitting Head for Renshaw in the First Test was one, although I doubt it would have altered the outcome of that game. Bringing Agar on the Indian tour instead of Kuhnemann in the first place was, I suspect, another mistake. In both cases, however, the selectors have tried to rectify their errors in the Second Test by including Head and Kuhnemann. Correcting mistakes is what they should be doing. It’s their job.

Why did they bring Agar, then, if they weren’t going to play him?

Completely fair question. It’s difficult to speculate when one isn’t privy to the inner workings of the Australian squad, but that’s never stopped me before so let’s get into it:

Agar has been kept in and around the squad for a couple of years. I’ve always assumed the selectors were hoping he would develop into a threatening bowler who could make some useful runs down the order.

Trouble is, it hasn’t happened.

Like some other players like Michael Neser and Glenn Maxwell before him, Agar has been denied the chance to play much first-class cricket because he’s been kept on the bench for the Test team. It’s the Black Hole of Broken Dreams for many an aspiring Test cricketer – you’re not quite good enough for the Test team but good enough that you’re kept in reserve and thus can’t play red ball cricket for your state. Neser finally managed to get out of the Black Hole, managing a Test debut and six Sheffield Shield games in 2022-23, but Agar has remained stuck in limbo.

More importantly, when he does play, he doesn’t take wickets.

Agar played two ODIs for Australia vs England in November 2022, going wicketless in both. Then he took 2-107 across both innings for the PM’s XI against the West Indies a week later. Agar’s had just a single Shield match in 2022-23, when he took 1-105 across both innings against Queensland in early December 2022. He was finally given a Test guernsey when he played in the Third Test against South Africa in January, but didn’t take a wicket in either innings. Not the sort of returns that demand a Test call-up. And he took only 6 wickets in 10 Big Bash games for the Perth Scorchers (average 45.16, strike rate 37). Agar did take 7 wickets across two Tests in Bangladesh, but that was five and a half years ago.

Based on these returns, then, Agar probably shouldn’t have been taken to India in the first place.

Why Kuhnemann, then? Well, he can turn the ball, for a start. I don’t mean to be overly harsh on Agar, but I don’t remember ever seeing him actually spin the ball. Plenty of slow bowlers have done well in white ball cricket by bowling flat at the stumps without getting much turn (remember the likes of Xavier Doherty? Johan Botha?) but in Test cricket in India, a bit of spin is surely required. Kuhnemann is new and inexperienced, but he’s three years younger than Agar. He’s taken 4 wickets at 38.25 in two Shield games for Queensland this summer, but it was probably his 16 wickets from 18 games in the 2022-23 Big Bash (average 26.50, strike rate 21) that made the selectors (belatedly) sit up and say to themselves, hang on a tic, we’ve actually got a better option here than Agar.

And I suspect that’s exactly what happened. It’s their job to pick the player they think will give Australia the best chance, so they did.

According to the ABC, Selector Tony Dodemaide is reported to have said Agar’s “red-ball game” was not where the spinner “wants it to be”. Sometimes it’s that simple. He wasn’t bowling well enough.

Was it tough on Agar? Sure. I feel for him. I’m sure I wouldn’t have the mental and emotional fortitude to deal with the vicissitudes of elite sport. Sadly, though, this is Test cricket, not tiddlywinks. Retired spinner Nathan Hauritz claims Agar was ‘unfairly treated’. Fairness has got nothing to do with it, I’m afraid. Hauritz went on to say of Agar, “If you’re going to take this guy over, you’ve got to play him.”

No. You don’t.

Now if only the selectors would take the same practical, hard-nosed approach to David Warner and force him into retirement, we might manage an opening partnership in double figures.

Topics for the 2022-23 summer

I don’t mean to be unkind to the teams visiting Australia this summer, but the West Indies and South Africa are not likely to provide the level of competition that India or England might represent for Australia, so I’m not expecting a lot of excitement from either of the truncated Test series. I earnestly hope to be proved wrong and if either team kicks Australia’s admittedly entitled and somewhat smug backside, I’d be the first to cheer.

So what can we talk about?


The talk about possibly returning David Warner to a leadership role baffles me. Why pick this fight? Cricket Australia would be roundly criticized, especially by England fans, who loathe Warner. But as far as I can tell, there’s precious little love for Warner among Australian fans, either. So what would Cricket Australia gain from it? At 36, Warner doesn’t have much time left in any case. Don’t pick that scab. Let him play out this Test summer and let him fade away to spend his last couple of years in T20. For God’s sake, don’t pick him for the 2023 Ashes in England. Stuart Broad is already whittling his voodoo doll of Warner.


As usual, Australia is blessed with quick bowlers. Michael Neser, Mark Steketee, Jhye Richardson and Scott Boland are all  excellent Test-quality bowlers and would be leading the attack in any cricketing nation if they didn’t have the misfortune to be born Australian. Shame, really. The best they can hope for is for Cummins, Starc and Hazlewood to all break down simultaneously.

There are fewer batsmen pushing for Test honours, though. Warner is 36 and Khawaja will be 36 on 18 December, so although the recent performance of both suggests they’ll keep their spots for the 2022-23 summer, surely both spots will need to be filled soon thereafter.

Still only 26, Queensland’s Matt Renshaw is pushing his way back to the front of the queue after losing his spot in the Test team after 11 Tests. Plenty of batsmen get their first chance when they’re too young, get dropped, and return when they have matured. Perhaps Renshaw will do the same. He has experimented both as an opener and in the middle order for Queensland, but if he maintains his current form, he’d have to be the leading candidate to replace Warner at the top of the order. After an underwhelming 2021-22 Sheffield Shield (410 runs at 29.29), Renshaw punched out 620 runs at 47.69 for Somerset in the 2022 English summer, scored 200 not out for Queensland in the second Shield match of the 2022-23 season, and made 81 and 101 not out for the Prime Minister’s XI against the West Indies in late November.

Peter Handscomb of Victoria (31) is probably the next candidate for a spot in the middle order if Khawaja becomes unavailable. He, too, fell from favour and lost his Test spot but racked up 697 runs at 49.79 in the 2021-22 Shield and has made 544 runs at 108.80 in the first four games of the 2022-23 Shield season, assisted with a 281 not out in Game 2. He also made 55 and 75 for the Prime Minister’s XI against the West Indies.

Beyond those two names, the pickings are slim.

Yesterday’s Hero

David Warner will turn 35 on 27 October, 2021. Will the selectors really pick him to open the batting in the Ashes?

Warner is the Bruce Willis of Australia’s Test team: an aged film star phoning in his performances without providing much evidence to suggest he is still up to the job. He abdicated his position as Australia’s Test opener long ago. Warner has played a grand total of THREE red-ball games since January 2020, and played unconvincingly even then. He played in only the final two Tests of the four-Test series against India in January 2021, scoring 67 runs across four innings at an average of 16.75. He then played a single Sheffield Shield match in March 2021 season, scoring 24 and 69 against South Australia on the billiard table otherwise known as the Adelaide Oval.

Warner has played 86 Test matches and made 7,311 runs at an average of 48.09, with 24 Test centuries. It’s a good record, but look closer. In his most recent 20 Tests, he has made only 533 runs at an average of 16.15. He has reached three figures only four times in that period, twice against a weak Pakistan side in Australia, and once against New Zealand (also in Australia).

There are many cricketers who choose to prioritise the white-ball game in order to prolong their careers, and I don’t blame them for it. Many of them (e.g. Shane Watson, George Bailey, Aaron Finch, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, and many more) are much more suited to the white-ball game and should never be (or should have been) considered for Test cricket. Good luck to them. They must make hay while their bodies hold up. But it’s when such players masquerade as Test cricketers – and when the selectors indulge them – that Australia loses Test matches. Warner has straddled the two formats with more success than most, but at 35 years of age his time as Australia’s Test opener is surely up. And, no, he doesn’t ‘deserve’ a final swansong just because he has served the team well for a long time. As the saying goes (and I’m paraphrasing), this the Ashes, not tiddlywinks.

If the Australian selectors pick Warner for the Ashes, they will be trotting out an aged warhorse who is a very long way past his prime and who has played virtually no first-class cricket for nearly two years. England, for their part, are likely to ask Stuart Broad to bowl at him around the wicket from the first over. Australia’s wickets may not seam as much as England’s, but I think I would bet on Broad.

Shuffling a Weak Hand

Australia’s batting is very poor, and the cupboard is pretty darn bare.

Marnus Labuschagne is really the only batsman who can hold his head up after two Tests against India, and even he has only managed 129 runs at 32.25 in four innings. Cameron Green looks promising, but it’s too early to tell, and we should give him another few Tests at least before we draw conclusions.

So what does Australia do now?

Burns must go. It was obvious before the series began he was not up to the task, and his half-century in the second innings in Adelaide really should be discounted as it was made under little pressure. Now even the TV commentators seem to agree he won’t play in the Third Test. Dear Justin Langer, loyalty to your players is very sweet, but denial is not a river in Egypt.

So let’s assume Burns is a goner.

Marcus Harris should come in. True, Harris’ first nine Tests were uninspiring (385 runs from 17 innings at 24.06) but his form in the Sheffield Shield this season has been good (355 runs at 118.33 including a double ton and a 71) and he made scores of 35, 25*, 26 and 5 against India A and India in the touring party’s warm-up matches. Not the sort of numbers that make you do backflips, but better than what Burns offers. The selectors wanted Burns to succeed so they could persist with a LH/RH opening combination, but the right-hand batsman isn’t doing you much good if he can’t last past the first or second over, and that’s how poor Burns’ technique has been. Yes, folks, we’re picking openers (i.e. Harris) who stand a chance of getting to 30. That’s how low we’ve sunk.

There is still a suggestion that David Warner will be unavailable for the Third Test. If so, Will Pucovski should be given a chance. At almost 23 years of age, he’s still pretty green with only 23 first-class games under his belt (1,744 runs at 54.50), but he has 6 centuries and 5 half-centuries in that time, including two double tons so far this Sheffield Shield season oh please God let him be successful we so desperately need a decent opening batsman.

So if this all pans out, Wade drops into the middle order and Travis Head should be dropped. Head was given 19 Tests to make an impact, and his average is getting worse, not better.

But if injury strikes Wade, I would suggest the selectors give Alex Carey an opportunity, probably moving Green up to No. 5.

Carey has been pigeon-holed as a white ball specialist, but I see no reason why he can’t play Test cricket. For a start, he has a genuinely good batting technique, and is not merely a bash-&-crash merchant like certain other white ball sloggers who’ve been picked for the Test team in the past (e.g. Aaron Finch, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell). Carey has a first-class batting average of 34.13, but his recent form suggests he is performing above that level. He played only four Sheffield Shield matches in the 2019-20 season due to his white-ball duties for Australia, but made 386 runs at 55.14, with two centuries and a 73 in seven innings. Since then, he made 106 in an ODI against England in September 2020. The selectors obviously suspect he can play red ball cricket, because they gave him a chance for Australia A vs India in a practice match prior to the First Test. He made 32 and 58 in that game.

And it would be nice if Steve Smith found some form. It’s difficult to be too hard on him because he has supported the entire top order for the past five years and one would think one of the other batsmen should step up for a change.