Australian cricket great Ricky Ponting believes David Warner may have missed the perfect opportunity for a Test retirement on home soil, believing the under-siege opener's chances of an Ashes selection are becoming increasingly tenuous. Warner has returned to Australia after suffering a fractured elbow during the second Test, and is hoping to recover in time for the World Test Championship final.
Barring a memorable double century in the Boxing Day Test, his 100th for Australia, Warner's struggles with the bat at home carried over into his brief appearance in India. Across three innings, Warner scored just 1, 10 and 15 before suffering the injury which forced him out of the side.
It follows a home summer in which the aforementioned double century was his only score of note, and adds to the doubts around his capability after he was well and truly exposed by England's bowlers, Stuart Broad in particular, during the last Ashes tour of England in 2019.
The 36-year-old Warner boasts just two scores above 50 in his past 20 Test matches, and as such Ponting believes he may have missed a golden opportunity to end his Test career on a high. Ponting is set to coach Warner for the Dehli Capitals when the IPL begins again later this year.
“I think I’ve heard him talk before about their cycle. This current cycle will finish after the World Test Championship, which is obviously the week before the first Ashes Test and I would think all going well that they want to get David through until the end of that Test match at least,” Ponting told RSN.
“It’s up to him though. The only currency you have as a batsman is runs and if you’re not scoring any you leave yourself open."
Ponting had a degree of sympathy for Warner, pointing out that the opener's demise had come about slowly, in much the same way his own retirement had crept up on him. The constant need for runs, and Warner's diminishing leeway after an extended run of uninspiring form, made it a brutal game.
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“It’s happened to all of us, it happened to me. When you get to a certain age and it looks like your form is dropping off slightly, then the knives are sharpened and it doesn’t take long," Ponting said.
“For him to finish the way he deserves to finish, the obvious thing for me was maybe to pull the pin after Sydney. He got 200 in Melbourne, played his 100th Test, played his 101 Test in Sydney, his home ground and maybe finish there.
“The last thing he deserved is to be away on a tour and get in to the middle of a series and get dropped and his career is over. That would be an awful way for him to finish. He’s a driven little man, a pretty stubborn little bugger, so we’ll see how he goes.”
David Warner in doubt for Ashes after India struggles
Travis Head was elevated to Warner's vacated opening spot for the third Test, but failed to fire in the firts innings after being dismissed for nine. Cameron Green and Mitchell Starc, both injured during Test series on home soil, returned with skipper Pat Cummins also out as he cares for his mother, who has entered palliative care.
If Australia can avoid a 4-0 series whitewash, they will be guaranteed a spot in this year's World Test Championship final, with India almost certainly to be their opponents. After triumphing in India in 2004, Australia have won just one of the 16 Tests they have contested in the country since.
Head, who will likely open for the remainder of the series in place of an injured David Warner, said Australia needed to find ways to stabilise their innings when India's star spinners Ravi Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin were firing.
"The game can move extremely quickly in these conditions, I think we've seen that in Sri Lanka (last year) where we had a day like that as well. It's an experienced group and you try to limit those days as much as you can," he said.
"It's tough to try to gain momentum when the team is as good as they are and they can exert that much pressure on you that it can crack. But it's a challenge for us over the next couple of weeks, when we find ourselves in moments, how can we draw it back.
"When it's a full stadium and there's noise going and wickets falling, how we can draw that back?"
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