Australia A in Zimbabwe 2011 June 22, 2011

Warner's chance to show Test credentials

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David Warner will be out to prove he can become a Test opener when he faces the new ball during Australia A's upcoming four-day series in Zimbabwe. Warner is generally regarded as the quintessential Twenty20 basher, but an encouraging finish to the Sheffield Shield season has him determined to show that he can thrive in the longer format.

He has timed his run well, and although he won't be the first choice as a Test opener to replace Simon Katich, Warner is clearly in the selectors' wider field of vision as they look to the future. He is expected to open with Phillip Hughes during the Australia A four-day fixtures against a Zimbabwe XI next month, a vote of confidence in itself given that the squad also includes Usman Khawaja and Nic Maddinson, who could potentially partner Hughes.

Warner collected his maiden first-class century against Western Australia in March, and it was an important achievement for a man who made his Twenty20 international debut before he had played a first-class game. Now, he has found the patience for the longer format, according to the Australia A captain Tim Paine, who has been impressed by Warner's work ethic during the team camp in Brisbane this month.

"I would say at this stage it would probably be David Warner [to open] in the four-dayers," Paine told ESPNcricinfo. "He'll probably get the chance to push on from the impressive finish he had to his domestic season. Hopefully if he can transform what we know he can do in the shorter formats into the longer formats then he's going to be a pretty devastating opening batsman in the longer form, similar to something like what Sehwag does for India. That's something he's looking to bring into his game.

"The last six months he's started to find some hunger to actually play in the longer forms of cricket for Australia. Even today I reckon he batted for two and a half hours, which is something that in all the time I've been coming to the Academy with him as young guys, it's not something he has done. He's been a bloke who goes in and hits them really well for 20 minutes and he's happy with that. But at the moment there's a different drive to Dave Warner and he's looked good the last two weeks."

At a time when Cricket Australia wants to attract more young fans by expanding the Big Bash, it is encouraging that a short-form specialist like Warner still harbours Test aspirations. However, despite the belief of Greg Chappell - who will be the selector on duty in Zimbabwe - that Warner can be an effective batsman in the longer format, it's unlikely he'll win a baggy green in the immediate future.

When Katich was cut from Australia's contract list this month, there was still no room for Warner in the 25-man group, a sign that for the time being, the selectors consider his place to be in Twenty20 and 50-over cricket. The likely partner for Shane Watson on Australia's Test tour of Sri Lanka in August is Hughes, who Paine said was handling the pressure well ahead of the Australia A trip.

"He's been fine," Paine said. "He's been no different to when I've ever seen him. Hughesy is just Hughesy, he goes about it as he does. He's a fine player, so I'm sure if he gets the opportunity he can score a lot of Test runs - he already has, for a guy so young. I'm sure he'll be very, very keen to do well in Zimbabwe. He has a knack of scoring runs and I'm sure he'll do that in Zimbabwe and in Test matches he may get to play in in the future."

Hughes is one of several members of the Australia A squad who has a strong chance of making the Sri Lanka tour, along with Khawaja, Paine, Jason Krejza, Michael Beer, Ben Hilfenhaus and Callum Ferguson. But Paine said despite the axing of Katich suggesting that younger men might win Test opportunities, there had been no loss of focus within his side.

"Not so much around this group," he said. "It's been more in the media. I haven't heard anyone in the last two weeks that I've been here in our team talk about the contract list and who's out, and what the opportunities are going to be coming up. It's just everyone is pretty focused on getting over there and performing and giving themselves the best chance of being picked to replace those players if it does happen."

The Australia A players fly to Zimbabwe on Saturday for a triangular one-day series featuring the hosts and South Africa A, before they take on Zimbabwe in a pair of four-day games.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • James on June 25, 2011, 10:49 GMT

    Hatsfor and hyclass, what you say is not so much against me, I venture. I think we are all talking about distortion in the recognition of talent. I wonder how much a player's appeal to the public is underrated in selection, perhaps because the public does not go to enough First Class and Grade matches these days. Perhaps this is the main reason selectors and training are so prominent and so criticised at the moment. Is the public doing its job of finding stars through watching? The problem may be off the field, but maybe it is only a few metres beyond it, and the officials ending up scapegoats. And in any case I had put down my view in order to find out more; I dare say I am a wombat, but I have not left.

  • Andrew on June 25, 2011, 4:36 GMT

    @HatsforBats - oh & just curious - do you think that Paine is better in all formats to Wade? @Clyde - obviously you have a point of view that won't be changed on this thread (I wonder if you're a wombat in disguise?), anyways the players selected across those Oz A squads are more than capable of performing at a high level on the international arena. On top of that is plenty of talent not selected. Oz problems are off the field primarily.

  • Andrew on June 25, 2011, 0:51 GMT

    @HatsforBats - agreed re: "synthesised". Plenty of players have improved by being in the squad environment. As for Haddin, I disagree, his last couple of test weren't great - but who's were in the Oz side of the Ashes? I was at the GABBA when he plundered the Poms (feels good saying that!), he was far more assured then Hussey was in that big partnership. I think Haddin should not be considered for T20 anymore, (I think thats now a selection policy - maybe?) I also think he should also retire from ODIs. As for Warner, he's a gamble by the selectors, on a limited sample size he does look to be on the up, in 1st class cricket & may end up being a greater long form player than short form. @youngkeepersdad - you're sitting on the fence LOL! C'mon spill it - (excluding your son!) who do you think is the best gloveman in the country!!!!! @StraightHit - I prefer him to some sort of apprenticeship in Oz A & continue to improve in Shield first.

  • kieran on June 24, 2011, 13:12 GMT

    @ Meety and youngkeepersdad: I would have to say that I would prefer Paine to Haddin in all formats, he's a better keeper and Haddin's batting is a shadow of it's former self. Gilly was lucky the selectors denied Heals a farewell home test, and they should do the same now and pick a replacement when they are improving, NOT when they are past their prime. As for the premise of the article, I'm happy that Warner has been given a go. His technique is good, and he can play straight and square. At his age he is a good prospect and he has plenty of time to develop his skills to be successful at test level. For example, Sehwag has made 7000 runs and has yet to move his feet; the modern game allows for different talents, and Warner has talent. But Hughes come first; his game has developed significantly and he has an eye that comes along once in a generation; mind you, I wouldn't mind if Ricky taught him how to hook/pull.

  • Christopher on June 24, 2011, 13:04 GMT

    @Clyde-While im confident that your remarks will find sympathy at CA headquarters and at the homes of its employees,there would be few students of cricket anywhere that would support your position on australian talent.For the last 4 years,players averages and records have been ignored and selections have been obsenely random.Discrimination is endemic.The mantra of this administration was that,' no change, was better than change' and,'No accountability for decisions or results.'Hodge,David Hussey,Rogers,Jaques,O'Keefe,Copeland,Swan,Stuart Clarke,Gillespie,MacGill,Hughes,Voges,Hopes,Cosgrove and Hauritz are just some of those who've found themselves on the wrong side of the decisions of this administration.Their replacements have been players of the ilk of Beer,Krezja,Doherty,North,Ponting with 3 bad years out of 4,mike Hussey the same,Hilfenhaus out of form,Siddle playing injured and not aware of strength training.Chappell hobbling the Futures League with age and over restrictions.

  • kieran on June 24, 2011, 12:58 GMT

    @ Clyde: Are you serious? 5 or 6 hundreds in a row?! How high do you need standards to be? Name a current test player (or any former test player for that matter) who has scored like that prior to a test call up. I'll readily admit that the Aus team is not at it's best right now, but I'll happily argue that a crickter CAN be synthesised. It DOES come to down to training and development, that is what 90% of what cricketers are. Only the most talented of individuals are blessed with the je ne sais quoi (Lara et al.) to become GREAT test players, the rest have to make do with hard yakka and years of hard graft.

  • Steve on June 24, 2011, 12:56 GMT

    Given some of the struggles of Aus batting of late, Warner should be given a Test chance immediately. It will be up to him to take the chance or not. If he succeeds, the game will be setup nicely for bowlers bec of his pace of scoring.

  • James on June 24, 2011, 11:47 GMT

    It is curious that Australia does not have any new top-class talent at the moment, but nevertherless it is a fact and a fact selectors can't change. Also, in recent years, the talk about cricket in Australia seems to indicate there is a notion cricketers can be synthesised through 'development' and training. Either the candidate is a cricketer or he is something else and his quality is either this much or that much. Nothing anyone can do about it. There is no shortage of places in which a cricketer of class can show up, but no one is scoring five or six hundreds in a row in grade or consistently taking five-for, so there are no top-class Test contenders. If there were, they would not be hard to spot.

  • Bryn on June 24, 2011, 6:58 GMT

    @hyclass, i agree this anti-hughes thing is insanity i mean the guy has been dominating shielf cricket for a while now and has to me looked nothing short of becoming a dominant test opener. i think he should open with marsh in the upcoming sri lanka series and if that goes well then thats the way it should stay.

  • Philip on June 24, 2011, 5:38 GMT

    Yes, Meety, I agree that Hartley has been rather unlucky. Very unlucky, really, as was Seccombe. Actually, I don't recall ever saying that Paine was the best out-an-out gloveman in Aus, now or before, just the best option.

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