The mental dominance that Stuart Broad has over David Warner means the Australian opener must be dropped from the Test side, and his replacement must be the all-rounder Cameron Green.
Scores of 9, 36, 66, 25, 4 and 1 mean Warner is averaging just 23.5 for the series. Not very good, Bob.
However, it’s not even poor racing performance that should seal its fate, it’s the fact that Broad unequivocally ‘owns’ it. The quick Englishman has now dismissed Warner a staggering 17 times in Test cricket. Say that stat out loud and then try to tell me that the Australian selectors would be anything but remiss to ignore this pattern any longer.
Warner’s smile after cutting Broad, again, on Day 2, indicates just how much Broad has on his mind. With cricket being such a mental game, ignoring this psychological dynamic is tantamount to incompetence for those tasked with picking the best possible Australian team.
Warner has stated that he would like to retire after the SCG Test in the upcoming Australian summer, although if he retires now it would almost end his Test career.
Conspiracy theorists have suggested Warner will retire on his own terms, as Cricket Australia officials are nervous he will “spill his guts out” at Sandpapergate if he is unceremoniously dumped before he wants to leave.
It’s an interesting take, but if Warner has the “receipts”, or knows “where the bodies are buried”, or “holds the smoking gun”, or any other clever phrase you want to use to get Warner tossing others under the bus for what happened at Newlands in 2018, then the reality is that it will all come out at some point anyway.
If the tinfoil hat brigade is right and Cricket Australia is placating Warners, all they’d really be doing is delaying the inevitable. If there really is more to be revealed – Warner’s memoir, autobiography or ‘full tale’ with Channel 7 – will happen whether he’s dropped or has a parting test.
As such, I’m not convinced that Warner can decide when his run ends. What I’m sure of is that he has to end now, with Broad playing the hangman.
Warner’s career has been a roller coaster, with its right amount of ups and downs, but every ride comes to an end.
When one door closes, another opens, and I love the duality of saying “open” here, because I think Cameron Green should come back next door at the top of the order.
Part of the reason Warner has been able to hold on to his spot to date is because no one has knocked on the door to replace him. Marcus Harris, Matt Renshaw and Cameron Bancroft have all been touted as replacements, but they all come with their own concerns.
Harris has played 14 Tests for an average of 25. He’ll be 31 in a week, and the harsh assessment is that we’ve probably seen what Harris is, and it’s not Test level.
Meanwhile, Renshaw has already scored a hundred at the top of the order for Australia, however, like Harris, he played 14 Tests without consolidating a place. He didn’t dominate Shield cricket last season either, apart from an unbeaten double century that boosted his average… um… average.
Bancroft was not part of the current Ashes squad so despite being in England for county cricket one would think he is not a realistic option to end this series for Warner.
Also, fairly or not, replacing Warner with Bancroft doesn’t exactly help the Australian team move on from the ball-tampering scandal. That might be unfair, but he potentially should have thought about it before putting sandpaper down his pants.
Which brings us nicely to a left-field option, and the one I’d make: take Cameron Green to lead off the bat.
Mitch Marsh certainly doesn’t deserve to be dropped after his impressive performance in the Third Test, and having him and Green in the team provides incredible flexibility, depth and options for Australia’s bowling attack.
Ever since Green came over, he’s been a pretty nervous starter when he hits. It’s not uncommon for him to have a very low strike rate on the first 30 odd balls he faces, before he starts to get comfortable and play some shots. If he’s still inside, that is.
Green doesn’t have a very wide range of shots in his arsenal, especially early in his innings. It’s basically ‘block or leave’ at first, before changing slightly to ‘block, leave or hit limits’ later. The tall all-rounder isn’t particularly adept at rotating the strike, hitting singles and playing soft hands.
He’s a bit like Shane Watson, in that sense.
It’s something he needs to work on no matter where he bats in the order. However, until you develop methods for driving, shoving, and ‘soft hands’ on your way to some singles, perhaps the starter isn’t the worst place to hit? You can be your current circumspect self right from the start, before the scoreboard kicks in once you’re ready.
Sounds like a solid cast, actually, for me.
No doubt Australia would prefer a starter who could rotate the strike and score some early runs freely, rather than just take the proverbial shine off the new ball.
However, beggars don’t get to choose, and these days, Cam Green’s limitations should be preferred over David Warner’s more damaging limitations.