Warner's counsel part of Test XI conundrum

Rob Forsaith
·3-min read

Selectors will consult David Warner and forensically study Will Pucovski and Joe Burns' form in tour games before making a call regarding Australia's opening partnership for the first Test at Adelaide Oval.

Trevor Hohns' panel has included Pucovski and Cameron Green, aged 22 and 21 respectively, in a 17-man squad for the series against India.

Uncapped players Pucovski, Green, Mitchell Swepson, Sean Abbott and Michael Neser have all been picked in a squad that is far larger than usual because of COVID-19 protocols.

Pucovski, who was elevated to open the batting for Victoria this season, backed up an unbeaten 255 with a equally-impressive knock of 202.

In sharp contrast, Burns has tallied 57 runs from five innings in the Sheffield Shield hub.

Pucovski and Burns are set to open together for Australia A in Sydney next month.

Hohns indicated those games could potentially decide whether the upstart or the incumbent is picked for the series opener that starts on December 17, adding that selectors would also seek Warner's opinion.

"He (Warner) is a very senior player, he's very experienced," chairman of selectors Hohns said.

"It's important he's comfortable as well, provided we are of course, with the person he opens with.

"It goes a long way in forming an opening partnership ... we certainly do consult players on such issues."

Hohns was asked seven questions on Thursday relating to the Burns-Pucovski selection conundrum.

The former legspinner noted Pucovski's "fantastic form" demanded selection in the squad, but also highlighted Burns' role in Australia's rise up the Test rankings.

"He and the partnership he formed with David Warner has been instrumental in helping Australia get to the No.1 position," Hohns said.

"Of course it would be nice to have everybody in form right now, but we still have those Australia A games to have a look at."

Hohns added Pucovski, who has experienced multiple concussions and mental-health issues in recent years, is mentally ready for the rigours of Test cricket.

"Will's good to go. We're hopeful he'll be fine all the way through," he said.

Hohns described Green, who scored 197 against NSW and has become Australia's first-choice allrounder in the absence of injured Western Australia teammate Mitch Marsh, as an "immense talent".

Abbott, who celebrated his maiden first-class ton two days before his first Test squad call-up, will also ensure selectors have plenty of flexibility this summer.

Travis Head and Matthew Wade are expected to play in Adelaide, but it wouldn't surprise if Abbott or Green later debut given there is a four-day turnaround after the first Test then a three-day break between the third and fourth Tests.

"Cameron is a batting allrounder, Sean's a bowling allrounder. It would depend on what type of player we need at the time," Hohns said.

Abbott, Neser, Swepson, Green and James Pattinson will bowl for Australia A before heading to Adelaide, while star quicks Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood won't feature in either tour game.

Australia's 17-man Test squad: David Warner, Will Pucovski, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (capt), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Michael Neser, Mitchell Swepson, Sean Abbott.