Warner Out of First Test with India: Who Will Replace Him as Opener?
David Warner did not play in the 3rd and final T20I in the series with India after he had picked up a hamstring injury during the second match. Warner has since been ruled out of the first Test of the upcoming series beginning on 17 December in Adelaide. The absence of the in-form left-hander will hurt Australia as it will make them vulnerable at the top of the batting order, putting greater pressure on the middle order led by Smith and Labuschagne. Warner’s likely absence has set off a debate as to who will open for Australia in Warner’s absence.
Pucovski Ruled Out with Concussion
Earlier, the question that dominated the headlines was whether Joe Burns or Will Pucovski would open with Warner, with Warner expressing his approval for Joe Burns to be tasked with the responsibility. So, can we assume that Joe Burns and Will Pucovski will open the batting in the Adelaide Test? Cricket Australia will not find it an easy decision to make. To start with, Will Pucovski has been ruled out after suffering a concussion in the first warm-up match against India. Marcus Harris has been named as his replacement. Joe Burns, on his part, is woefully out of form as evident in his performance stats below:
Some former Australian cricketers have weighed in with their suggestions. Former skipper Ian Chappell feels that Australia will opt for the pair of Burns and Harris.
Marcus Harris is also not a newcomer to opening the batting in Test matches for Australia as his record suggests in the following snippet:
Though his average of 24.06 may not inspire a lot of awe, Harris’s recent form has been encouraging as you can judge for yourself from the following statistics:
But we would support the suggestion by legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne that Australia should open with Matthew Wade and Harris. Wade did a tremendous job in the recent T20I series against India. Although he did not open his account in the first match that Australia lost, he scored 58 in the second, batting down the order. But after D’Arcy Short failed to accelerate at the top of the order, Wade replaced him to open in the third ODI. The move was an instant success as Wade scored a dominant 80 to lead Australia to a rare T20I win against India.
Warne’s suggestion sounds practical especially as Wade has done the job before for Australia in Tests. In fact, he has a better batting average than Harris and a decent conversion rate of centuries. Take a look at Wade’s Test match statistics and recent performances in the chart below. Importantly, he dominated India’s bowlers in the T20I series earlier in December.
Australia would need to get the Test series off on a confident note. Joe Burns’s current form doesn’t inspire confidence. Harris and Wade, on the other hand, could prove the difference between victory and defeat.
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