Tim Paine names front-runner to replace David Warner as Australia's Test opener

Matt Renshaw, Marcus Harris and Cameron Bancroft appear to be the most likely candidates.

Matt Renshaw, David Warner and Marcus Harris.
Matt Renshaw (L) and Marcus Harris (R) are candidates to replace David Warner in Australia's Test team. Image: Getty

Tim Paine says he believes Marcus Harris is the front-runner to replace David Warner in Australia's Test side when the veteran opener walks away from cricket. Warner announced earlier this year that he'll retire from Test cricket after the SCG match this summer in what he hopes will be a farewell in front of his home fans.

The Aussies will play three Tests against Pakistan (finishing at the SCG in January) before two more against the West Indies. If Warner gets his wish and plays the Pakistan series, selectors will then bring in his replacement for the West Indies series.

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Harris and Matt Renshaw were both part of Australia's squad that retained the Ashes, while Cameron Bancroft also has experience at Test level and produced a brilliant season in the Sheffield Shield last year. But according to former Test captain Paine, the man in the box seat at the moment is Harris.

Paine said the opening few rounds of the next Sheffield Shield season will prove pivotal. “I think we're lucky because we get a start of the Shield season,” Paine said on SEN radio this week.

“I think who's sitting in [No.1 position] right now is Marcus Harris and rightly so. He's scored a lot of runs over the years to get in that position.

“I used to say this to people all the time...there's always this pecking order of ‘who's No.1 or who's Np.2? Who's next in?’. You want to be next in when the spot is available.

“Marcus Harris has been No.2 opener ready to go, the next man in for two years now, the spot has not been open. So, he's going to have to start the Shield year because if Matthew Renshaw gets two hundreds in the first Shield games, it could be him.

“If Cameron Bancroft scores runs in the Australia A series coming up and then starts the Shield season well, it could be him. There are two Tassie kids down here that could do it, but right now it's Marcus Harris, but there’s no guarantee given that we've got three or four Shield games before that first Test.”

David Warner wants Matt Renshaw to replace him

Speaking before the fifth Ashes Test, Warner said Renshaw would be his pick. "I've always said Matt Renshaw is a very good player," he said. "He can play both formats quite easily. He's tall. He's exactly like Haydos (Matt Hayden). We spoke about him in the early part of his career.

"I've always felt and held him in high regard as a very good player. He's worked on his technique. He's been in and out of the squads, and I think he'll be a great replacement."

Warner also mentioned South Australian Henry Hunt and Queenslander Bryce Street as players who could come into the role in the near future. With Usman Khawaja turning 37 in December and Steve Smith 34, the Aussies are preparing for their biggest transition period in nearly two decades.

Matt Renshaw and David Warner.
Matt Renshaw and David Warner in action for Australia in 2016. (Photo by Morne DeKlerk - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images/Getty Images)

"We've always had someone who's been up the other end to actually soak up some of the pressure and bat normally," Warner said. "I'm not sure who that might be, but know Hunty and Bryce are well at home so there are two guys that have been looked at for A series.

"They're probably good players to fit that sort of mould. But yeah, I think there's a there's a few guys that are there ready to come in."

Khawaja has previously said he wouldn't retire around the same time as Warner. And considering the stop-start nature of his Test career to date, he's probably less motivated than Warner to call it quits.

with AAP

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