Former Australia cricketer Greg Chappell feels that opener David Warner is a very important player in the Test side. He added that Warner had proved his importance at the top of the order for Australia in the T20 World Cup despite many people writing him off before the start of the tournament.
After being dropped and removed from captaincy of Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2021, Warner was adjudged the player of the tournament in Australia’s victorious run to the trophy, scoring 289 runs in seven innings at an average of 48.16 and strike rate of 146.70, including three half-centuries.
“Warner may be a polarising figure for some, and many had written him off before the T20 World Cup, only to have him prove how important he is at the top of the order. I think he is even more important in the Test line-up. A skilful, fast-scoring opening batsman can be invaluable in setting up the game. Teams with aggressive openers cause opposition captains and bowlers to toss and turn at night,” wrote Chappell in his column for The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday.
Chappell added that Marcus Harris could be the likely opening partner for Warner ahead of Usman Khawaja. “Warner’s aggression and all-round stroke play means that a more circumspect player with less attacking options can be considered a complementary partner. Ed Cowan and Chris Rogers played that role extremely well with Warner in the past. Marcus Harris will likely accompany Warner to the wicket in Brisbane because of his form. Usman Khawaja could be considered for that role, but I feel he is better suited in the middle order, breaking up the right-handers.”
At the same time, Chappell believes that Khawaja has the advantage over Travis Head for the last batting spot in the playing eleven due to familiarity with The Gabba, the host for the first Ashes Test on December 8.
“Khawaja and Travis Head both prefer the ball back of a length, so they offer similar skills. Both are solid rather than brilliant in the field, so the nod will go to which of the two the selectors think will handle the England attack best. Khawaja has the advantage in that the Gabba is his home ground.”
The 73-year-old was also delighted by the presence of all-rounder Cameron Green in the squad for the first two Ashes Tests, terming his tall frame as an advantage against England’s bowlers. “He is an exciting prospect because he adds diversity to the line-up and has a wide range of strokes down the ground and square off the wicket. Green is extremely tall, so that adds another element to his combination with other batsmen. His reach means that he can make back-of-a-length balls seem full. That will mess with the bowling teams’ lengths, so that shorter batsmen benefit if the bowlers err or fail to adjust their lengths quickly.”
Chappell signed off by saying that if Tim Paine doesn’t play at Brisbane on December 8, they can look towards Alex Carey or Josh Inglis, both of whom are uncapped at the Test level though Carey is capped in white-ball format.
“The bowling group for the first Test is settled. If Paine doesn’t play, the selectors will earn their modest stipend early in the international season, having to name his replacement. Alex Carey and Josh Inglis are the obvious front-runners.”