South Africa in Australia, 2012-13 November 16, 2012

Watson return clouds Warner's future

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Shane Watson's return to the Australian Test squad for Adelaide has ramped up pressure on David Warner to hold his spot at the top of the order, as the national selectors consider the possibility of pairing Rob Quiney with Ed Cowan.

While Watson is still considered unlikely to return in time for the second Test against South Africa, it is far from certain that Quiney will be the man to drop out of the hosts' XI to make room for the vice-captain and No. 3 batsman. Warner's place in the team may hinge in his display in Adelaide, and another brief stay with the bat would be likely to have Quiney walking out to bat with Cowan in Perth.

The national selector John Inverarity was unable to guarantee Warner's place ahead of the Adelaide Test, in marked contrast to his supportive words for Cowan before the Brisbane Test squad was even announced. "We'll make the decision closer to the time," Inverarity said. "I mean we're here at the WACA. Less than 12 months ago David played a wonderful innings here. We'll just have to wait and see."

Quiney made only nine in his one innings in Brisbane, but impressed the selectors with his gully fielding, part-time medium pace and an unruffled, mature demeanour that fitted neatly into the Australian dressing room. His upright, powerful batting would make a neat balance with the more obdurate Cowan, while offering a little more restraint than Warner.

Watson's preferred place in the team remains as an allrounder. Inverarity explained that if Watson was not fit to bowl, he would more than likely also not be fit to run swiftly between the wickets or show the required level of agility in the field. This, as much as the team's desire to have him bowling, will influence the selectors in their deliberations, which will likely reach a decision by Wednesday.

"Yes he could [play as a batsman]," Inverarity said. "He'll have to be fit to perform regarding running between the wickets, chasing in the field, diving. It's unlikely - I'm not saying it's not possible - but it's unlikely that he'll be able to build his workloads so that he'll be able to bowl in the Test.

"If you've got the continuum there, there's only a small margin in which he's fit to perform as a batsman but not able to bowl. We're hoping he'll be beyond that, he'll be able to bowl. But he may not be able to. And if he's not able to, there's a fair chance he won't be able to be fit to perform in terms of running between the wickets, chasing in the field, diving in the field. We'll just wait and see."

Mitchell Starc's chances of earning a place in the team for Adelaide have been enhanced by a four-wicket haul for New South Wales against Victoria at the SCG. Ben Hilfenhaus, the man considered most likely to make way for Starc, is working closely with the bowling coach Ali de Winter to try to eradicate the flaws picked up in his bowling action during the Gaba Test.

"I thought the bowlers bowled much better the second day they bowled, and then on the final day I thought they all improved again," Inverarity said. "So they're running into some form and you need to get some bowling under your belt and I thought in particular Ben Hilfenhaus got better as the game went on, so we'll just have to assess how they go and what sort of shape they're in and make a decision a couple of days before the Test."

Inverarity indicated that whichever bowler was 12th man in Adelaide would then be a probable inclusion for the third Test in Perth, given that only three days separate the end of the second match with the start of the final one. Australia played four quicks and omitted the spinner Nathan Lyon for the Perth match against India last summer, and that possibility will depend on the preparation of the surface.

"I think it's very difficult to go Brisbane, Adelaide and then a break of just a couple of days and then to Perth for the same bowlers to do all of that," Inverarity said. "It's not unlikely that a different bowler will come in for that Test and you would recall that last time in Perth we played four fast bowlers and we'll just have to wait and see what the wicket is like. The decision last year I think was the right decision and we'll have to wait and see what happens this year."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • funkybluesman on November 19, 2012, 2:24 GMT

    So they are saying Warner, who is averaging over 40 in 9 tests of opening the batting, including a pair of centuries, and over 50 in first class cricket, is possibly in danger of getting dropped for Quiney, who at the age of 30, having been around for years, still only averages 37 in first class cricket?

    Anyone else think this is completely crazy?

  • Meety on November 18, 2012, 23:28 GMT

    @Jono Makim - I am now of the opinion that it is Watto that should be "DROPPED" as he has atm ONE innings in his last 5 weeks! IMO - that is starting to push the boundaries of being ready. Even though I think Watto's bowling could be crucial in the last 2 days on an Adelaide Oval pitch, I am more inclined to want the top 7 that started at the Gabba.

  • Sunil_Batra on November 18, 2012, 11:00 GMT

    Well said Ross_fleming, on the mark mate. The experts are noticing how good Khawaja looks between wickets and his fielding and that's all he can do.

  • dummy4fb on November 18, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    @Meety, I could not agree more! I find it quite unfortunate that he is so underdone, but i'm pretty sure that like Clarke and Cowan in the last test, that if he can get a start he'll most likely go big. His dismissal did not look too great in the first test, getting trapped on the crease, but I think he's a fast learner and that he'll be looking a little more decisive with his footwork in Adelaide.

  • ygkd on November 17, 2012, 23:37 GMT

    Warner at number 6 sounds interesting enough. However, in my view, there are generally two types of openers - those who have the technique for it (at their level) and those who want to bat there because they can't play slow bowling. To be one of the second group is to be unsuited to down-the-order slots. That's one of the reasons why Clarke is successful at number 5. He is one of the better players of spin around.

  • Meety on November 17, 2012, 23:04 GMT

    @Jono Makim - top comment. Probably the best one on Warner on this thread. Thing is Warner has done a lot in his short Test career - even wicket taking, his Test average (like Cowan's) is affected from playing in the WIndies which over the last 15 years has become the hardest place to score runs in the world, on account of the variability of bounce as well as sluggish nature of the pitches. Warner, unlike Cowan or Quinney has had bugger all chance to bat agains a red ball & is currently under done, like Hilfy & Starc were/are. Whilst I would prefer Warner keep his opinions on the Saffa batting to himself for the time being, I think everyone jumping on the bandwagon to drop him - particularly with a bloke who scored 9, is pretty ordinary. One big innings by Warner (say of the size the "hack" Cowan got), could see his average increase (like Cowan's) by 8, putting back up near 50 - & we want to sack him?

  • hhillbumper on November 17, 2012, 15:23 GMT

    Phi Hughes and Warner for the Ashes.it will be 2 down for 10 each innings. The only decent Aus batsman is Clarke. Hussey is knocking on and lets face it by next year half the team will have retired.

  • dummy4fb on November 17, 2012, 15:02 GMT

    I'll still use him because we don't have anyone near as talented as him. As long as he can perform regularly then I see no reason why he should be dropped.

  • dummy4fb on November 17, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    Two things about Dave Warner. Firstly, he has scored 5 centuries from 36 first class innings. That is a rate comparable to anyone and very consistent, he also averages 48, better than any of the other young contenders. Second point, he played one of the best knocks of any Aussie batsman last season with his ton in Hobart, he was just let down by the rest of the team..... Quiney has 7 centuries from 91 innings. Doolan 5/62. Cowan 16/140. Khawaja 11/101. Phil Hughes with 19/156 is really the only other young player we've got with what i'd accept as a reasonable rate of centuries from innings played, which should be no worse than 1 in 8, in my opinion. Everyone else should not consider their application as being ready until they can achieve this rate or better. Joe Burns with 4 centuries from 37 innings is possibly a more likely candidate than some others being talked about. He just needs to keep it up for a little while longer yet to establish a solid base of performance.

  • MattyLeeC on November 17, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    Im just going to throw it out there but why does Warner have to open the batting? Why not bring him in at 6? I know he made 180 vs the Indians which was a great watch (though that was one against one of the poorest bowling attacks India have put out for a while) and also a great knock against NZ. He has the ability to dominate any attack when he gets going but he doesnt have the game to be patient and leave enough alone and set himself against quality new ball attacks like SA or England. He doesnt have that mix of attack and also patience that the likes of Hayden had. For me a perfect number 6 that could really destroy a team if he came in at 4/250 or so.

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