Australia’s Warner in spotlight, under pressure ahead of Test farewell

The 37-year-old has indicated that he plans to quit the five-day game after the third Test at his home Sydney Cricket Ground early next year.

Australia’s David Warner walks off after being dismissed by South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada during day one of the first cricket Test match between Australia and South Africa at the Gabba in Brisbane on 17 December 2022. Picture: Patrick HAMILTON/AFP

PERTH – David Warner will take centre stage when the three-match series against Pakistan begins on Thursday ahead of what is expected to be the Australian opener’s farewell to Test cricket.

The 37-year-old has indicated that he plans to quit the five-day game after the third Test at his home Sydney Cricket Ground early next year.

Warner has been a mainstay of the Australian team for more than a decade but his Test form is under intense scrutiny, scoring just one century since early 2020.

Former team-mate Mitchell Johnson has said that he does not deserve to dictate the terms of his exit.

Querying why Warner should be given a “hero’s send-off” in light of his poor Test form, former fast bowler Johnson wrote in a newspaper column: “Can somebody please tell me why?”

Johnson also brought up Warner’s central role in the notorious “Sandpaper-gate” ball-tampering scandal in 2018.

In naming the Australia squad for the opening Test in Perth, chief selector George Bailey said that Warner had earned his place.

But there are no guarantees beyond the first Test, putting Warner under pressure to score runs if he wants to go out on his own terms with an emotional send-off in Sydney.

“Davey’s playing the first Test match and we’ll go from there,” said coach Andrew McDonald.

“Until we have to make that decision it’ll continue to I suppose bubble away and the speculation will be there.”

Pat Cummins’ side are strong favourites against Pakistan as they kick off their defence of the World Test Championship.

Winning the WTC was part of a triumphant year that also saw them retain the Ashes and win the one-day World Cup last month, with Warner Australia’s leading scorer.

Pakistan have won only four Tests in Australia dating back to 1956-7 and none since 1995, when they sealed a 74-run victory in Sydney.

They have never won a Test series in the 12 times they have toured Australia.

“They’ve gone through some transition with their coaching staff and management and I think in the last series they played, they played a more up-tempo brand in a bid to put more pressure on the bowling,” said McDonald.

“So I think we will see a little more of that. But like anything, if we execute well with the ball it’s going to be difficult (for them) to be able to maintain that over long periods of time.”

On their last, two-Test tour in 2019, Pakistan were thrashed by an innings and five runs at Brisbane and an innings and 48 runs in Adelaide.

Warner made 154 and 335 not out in his two knocks.


Aside from Warner, Pakistan will need to tame one of the world’s most potent bowling attacks in Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon.

Lyon is four wickets away from joining just seven other Test bowlers to breach the 500-mark, including fellow spin kings Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble.

Team director Mohammad Hafeez said Pakistan were in Australia not just to compete, but to win.

“We have ticked most of the boxes in our training. Everyone on the team is excited to showcase their ability and eager to win,” he said.

They will attempt to do so after a disastrous World Cup and chaos off the field, with the country’s cricket board overhauling the national team and support staff.

Shan Masood is now at the helm after Babar Azam resigned as skipper in all three formats and there are a slew of new faces.

Azam spearheads their batting with Shaheen Shah Afridi the only fast bowler to have played in Australia before.

Among the rookies are uncapped quick Khurram Shahzad, dashing left-hander Saim Ayub and all-rounder Aamer Jamal.

Pakistan squad: Shan Masood (capt), Aamer Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Sajid Khan, Agha Salman, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi

Australia squad: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (capt), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, Cameron Green, Lance Morris.

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