Cricket

WTC – Aus vs SA Test series – He’s eager to continue


Warner had said last month that he was not going to play the longest format beyond another 12 months. However, his experience is pivotal for Australia’s tour of India early next year. And, before that, he is expected to play his 100th Test starting Boxing Day against South Africa, who round off the series at his home ground at the SCG just after that. It could prove something of a fitting send off, but McDonald was confident of Warner extending his Test cricket beyond the home summer.

“He’s eager to continue on at this stage. He has not hinted [at] anything else,” McDonald said. “His appetite for the work – in and around training – is still there. He’s busy at the crease, and you’ve seen signs that he is going well. He’s just found different ways to get out, and sometimes that can happen.

“We are building towards a World Test Championship [final], and he wants to be part of that. So that’s a clear focus for us, and we’ve got South Africa as a part of that. And then on to India.”

As Australia’s other top-order batters feasted on a listless West Indies bowling in the series – Australia declared each of their four innings during comprehensive victories in Perth and Adelaide – Warner missed out each time, with just 102 runs at an average of 25.50.

It continued a rut for 36-year-old Warner, who has scored only 675 runs at 28.12 in 25 Test innings since his last century in January 2020. Pressure has increased on Warner, with speculation building on his Test career ahead of tough tours of India and England next year, where he has modest records.

But unless something dramatic happens against South Africa, Warner is set for his third Test tour of India, where he has never scored a century, and averages just 24 from 16 innings. And his wealth of experience is seen as important for a team likely to boast several batters who have never played Test cricket there.

“We’ll see what happens in the next three Test matches. But at this stage, he’s firmly in our thoughts for India,” McDonald said. “We’ve seen the more times you tour certain areas of the world, the better you get at it.

“But it’s also the knowledge that he can pass on to the younger players in and amongst that. We really value our senior players – both on and off the field – in terms of that education process. So there’s huge benefit for those players to be touring those areas, and albeit if they don’t play, they can still have an impact.”

Warner has also been engulfed in controversy after withdrawing a bid before the second Test against West Indies to have his lifetime leadership suspension lifted. But McDonald felt that Warner had the mental resolve to overcome that saga.

Ahead of what should be a tough three-match series against South Africa – who boast a star-studded pace attack – Warner has been backed to shrug off any distraction from the lingering off-field tumult before the first Test at the Gabba starts on December 17.

“He’s great at compartmentalising, [and] separating the off-field from the on-field. And I think most of the great champions do that very well,” McDonald said. “I sense this situation is not different. We respect and understand David’s decision to withdraw from that appeals process.

‘He’s moved forward, we’re moving forward as a team, and we’ve got a seriously good opponent confronting us at the Gabba. So our focus is firmly on that… and so is David’s.”



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