Pressure is mounting on David Warner to make a decision about his Test future following this week’s underwhelming performance at the Gabba, with former Australian all-rounder Simon O’Donnell calling on the veteran opener to retire from the five-day format.
Warner registered scores of 0 and 3 during the series opener against South Africa in Brisbane, failing to silence his critics after a disappointing 24 months in Australian whites.
The left-hander has not scored a Test century since January 2020, averaging 26.07 with the bat since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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During a home summer where teammates have already peeled off multiple centuries, Warner is yet to reach fifty in three Tests on Australian soil.
“I think he’d be contemplating and possibly should (retire) at the end of the Sydney Test,” O’Donnell told SEN Breakfast on Monday morning.
“We’re not talking about David Warner in the last few innings, we’re talking about David Warner in the last two years, he hasn’t been the same player he was prior to then.
“That indicates to me that if David found form again, it’s not going to be for long.
First ball! Warner cops Golden Duck | 00:57
“We actually have a sample area over a long period of time where things haven’t been up to standard.
“I just think it’s time.”
Proteas paceman Kagiso Rabada removed Warner for a golden duck in the first innings at the Gabba with a 133km/h bouncer directed at his rib cage that was caught at short leg.
The 36-year-old hopped in the air and awkwardly thrust his bat at the Kookaburra, dropping his head and taking his left hand off the willow.
It was an uncharacteristically soft dismissal, quickly drawing comparisons to Ricky Ponting’s embarrassing belly flop at Adelaide Oval in 2012, the moment that signalled his days as a Test cricketer were numbered.
“That first ball from Rabada in the first innings … it’s un-Warner-like,” O’Donnell continued.
“He came out in that second dig – you could see he was pumped to the nth degree.
“He was up and about and look, he got a beauty, but again I just don’t think he’s where he wants to be.”
David Warner of Australia. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images
DAVID WARNER’S TEST BATTING AVERAGE THROUGH THE YEARS
2011 — 48.75
2012 — 43.77
2013 — 39.52
2015 — 63.11
2015 — 54.87
2016 — 41.55
2017 — 49.85
2018 — 39.00
2019 — 48.33
2021 — 38.37
2022 — 21.64
* Minimum 3 innings
Ponting believes Warner deserves the opportunity to finish his Test career on his own terms, cautioning whether the New South Welshman should make a decision before next year’s tours of India and England, where he averages 24.25 and 26.04 respectively.
“He is a champion player — you never write off champion players ever,” Ponting told Channel 7.
“He is going through a lean trot now — we all want to see him scoring runs.
“When he finishes, he deserves to go out on his term. He has been a magnificent stalwart for Australian cricket.
“That is the most disappointing thing for David. He got those 20s, and got the starts against the West Indies and didn’t go on when everyone else at the top made the most of a weak West Indian side.
“He deserves the chance to finish the way he wants to finish. I would hate to see him get to an Indian tour or at the start of the Ashes tour and then get the tap on the shoulder.
“That would be a disappointing way for his career to end.
“It might be after the Sydney Test. Let’s wait and see. Also, I hope that he gets some runs between now and then.”
David Warner of Australia. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images
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Speaking to reporters ahead of the Brisbane Test, Australian coach Andrew McDonald asserted Warner was still in the team’s plans for next year’s Border Gavaskar Trophy in the subcontinent.
“We’ll see what happens in the next three Test matches, but at this stage he’s firmly in our thoughts,” McDonald said.
“He’s eager to continue on at this stage.
“He has not hinted (at) anything else. 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.”
Chairman of selectors George Bailey said Warner should not be judged on his performance against South Africa.
“I don’t know how much to read into this wicket or this match itself and say that any batsmen on either side is in good or bad touch,” Bailey said.
“I personally think there’s runs around the corner for him.
“… I still think he’s preparing as well as he can, he’s looking fantastic in the nets. No doubt he’d like a few more runs and to be contributing more at the top of the order, but I have full confidence that it will come.”
Australian spinner Nathan Lyon also threw his support behind Warner, calling on the nation’s cricket fanbase to do the same.
“We all know the X-Factor of cricketer that David Warner is and the type of batter he is,” Lyon told reporters on Saturday.
“He’s got 100 per cent support of the changing room and (that) should be the whole Australian public, to be honest with you. Yes, he got a good steep bouncer today but that was a hell of a catch to hang onto. I’m expecting David to come out and do amazing things.”
The second Test between Australia and South Africa, which will also mark Warner’s 100th Test match, gets underway at the MCG on Boxing Day, with the first ball scheduled for 10.30am AEDT.