Australia are optimistic that David Warner will have a big Ashes and have backed him to deliver at the top of the order.
Selectors had equivocated on whether the lefthander was locked in for the Ashes series against England after a difficult tour of India but head coach Andrew McDonald offered a firm endorsement yesterday.
“We’re optimistic with what Dave’s got left, we’ve picked him in the squad and we feel he’ll play a really big part in the Ashes and the World Test Championship,” McDonald told Australian radio station SEN.
Warner was included in Australia’s squad for the WTC final against India and the first two Ashes Tests but selectors kept their options open at the top of the batting by also calling up Marcus Harris and Matt Renshaw.
“He’s an important part of that squad, and if he wasn’t, we would’ve had a clear checkpoint after the WTC going into the Ashes,” added McDonald.
“That’s not the case, we’ve picked our squad for the first two Ashes tests as well, so he’s clearly in our plans and ready to go.”
Apart from a defiant 200 against South Africa in December, Warner has struggled for runs in recent Tests, making a total of 26 in three innings in the recent tour of India before returning home injured.
He had a dire series in England during the last Ashes tour, averaging 9.50, the worst ever by an opener to play 10 innings in a series, with paceman Stuart Broad taking his wicket seven times.
Broad and Warner have faced off against each in 26 Tests dating back to 2013, with the Englishman dismissing the Australian 14 times - more than any other bowler on the planet.
Warner had a better time of it in 2015, scoring 418 runs at an average of 46.44.
Warner finished the Indian Premier League for Delhi Capitals with 516 runs at an average of 36.86, down on his career average of 41.54.
“He’s in a good head space,” said McDonald. “I spoke to him as recently as yesterday, and he’s ready to go. He’s really excited to get back into the camp.”
The Ashes series starts on June 16 at Edgbaston. Australia hold the urn after winning the 2021-22 series 4-0 at home.
Meanwhile Broad is gearing up to “go to battle” with long-time adversary Warner.
“I’m obviously looking forward to going to battle with Davey again. We’ve had incredible battles,” said Broad.
“I’m really looking forward to stepping on the field against him. I must admit, at the end of Hobart last time, we shared a good chat and didn’t know if we would play against each other again. Hopefully we can.
“He had the better of me for quite a long period, got a hundred at Brisbane and at the WACA (in 2013) and, ultimately, the biggest praise I can give Davey is the fact I had to completely study him and change my style of bowling because of the success he had against me.
“He’s been a great competitor, someone I’ve really enjoyed playing against. He’s fiery, ferociously competitive, and those sorts of characters bring out the best in me as well.”
Broad readily admits the thrill of tussling with the best players the world has to offer is a habit he cannot kick, even after 161 caps and nearly 14 years at the highest level.
“What do they call it, the twilight? But I’ve still got a great hunger,” he said.
“Ultimately I play sport and cricket for the competitive side. I love that competitive drive that bowling at a batter gives you. You beat the outside edge and there’s no win in that, but then you nip one back and it goes through the gate.
“Those sort of feelings are so addictive to me,” he added.
David Warner (Illustration by Reynold/Gulf Times)