Former Australia Test cricket captain Michael Clark says selectors need to stick with David Warner at opener for the first Ashes Test, regardless of how he performs in the World Test Championship final. The Aussies play India in the world Test showpiece at The Oval in early June, with the first Ashes Test against England at Edgbaston getting underway on June 16.
Warner was named on Wednesday in Australia's 17-man squad for the Test Championship final - beginning on June 7 - with selectors to stick with the same 17 for the first two Ashes Tests. Chief selector George Bailey confirmed that Warner would return to open the batting against India after he returned home from the recent tour of the subcontinent with a fractured elbow.
"We are confident that's a team and that's a makeup that can have success." Warner endured a dismal Ashes series when he last toured England in 2019, averaging just 9.5 with the bat after being tormented by English quick Stuart Broad, who removed the veteran batter in seven of his 10 innings.
Bailey refused to guarantee that Warner was a lock for the Ashes opener at Edgbaston Test, despite confirming he's a certain starter against India in the WTC final. "Not specifically to Dave, but we'll just get through that Test Championship," Bailey said. "We'll be planning behind the scenes but we'll have a look at what that looks like as we get there.
“Different opposition and different surface in terms of going from The Oval to start the Ashes. So we‘ll work through that. We’ll wait and see what the conditions hold when we get there.”
Clark says he does not agree with Bailey's assessment and insists that in terms of preparation heading into the Ashes that Warner must open the batting at Edgbaston, whether or not he succeeds or fails with the bat in the WTC final. “I don’t believe that,” Clarke said about Bailey's comments on Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast.
“Your starting XI for the World Test Championship (Final), in my opinion, needs to be the same XI that walk into that first Test against England, assuming everyone is fit and there’s no injuries. “Because for mine, that’s called perfect preparation. Here’s a Test match in the exact same conditions as you’re about to play an Ashes series in.
“I’d like to think, even if Davey Warner doesn’t make as many runs as we’d like in his first game, he gets first crack in that first Test against England.”
Mark Taylor urges selectors to pick and stick
Fellow Aussie cricket legend and former captain Mark Taylor also agreed that if selectors believe Warner is the best option to open the batting alongside Usman Khawaja in the WTC final against India, then they have to stick with the veteran batter for at least the first Test of the five-match Ashes series.
“If that’s the way the selectors believe Australia has the best chance of winning the World Test Championship, then it’s got to be the best way that we attack the Ashes because the Ashes begin days after this match ends, so I don’t think you can make a change then," Taylor told 2GB’s Wide World of Sports radio. "The way I look at it, it means David Warner has probably got the World Test Championship, the Edgbaston Test match and Lord’s to find the form that we know that he’s got in him.
“If he can do that, not only will it be a benefit to him and Australian cricket, it’ll settle our whole team down. As we’ve seen with any side in a huge series, that top order is crucial. If it changes quickly and you unsettle a team at the top then you go a long way towards winning a series.”
Selectors will give themselves the freedom to change the 17-man squad after the second Ashes Test at Lord's, breaking the tour down into two blocks of three Tests. Mitch Marsh was among the biggest winners in Wednesday's squad announcement, with Bailey indicating he and Green could potentially co-exist in the same top-six.
Scott Boland is the sole back-up fast bowler, while Todd Murphy is the second spinner. Cameron Bancroft was considered unlucky not to be selected as a back-up batsman, considering he was the leading run-scorer in the Sheffield Shield last summer.
Matt Renshaw's selection is also of note, suggesting he and Harris will be Australia's openers once 36-year-old pair Warner and Usman Khawaja's careers come to an end. Bailey suggested earlier this month Harris was the preferred option as the next batsman to come into the team in Tests outside of Asia.
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