Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo
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David Warner wants to bid farewell to Test cricket on his homeground at the SCG next year, in the New Year's Test against Pakistan. That will be one staging post towards a complete exit from the international game, with Warner hoping his final game in Australia colours is at the 2024 T20 World Cup.
That Warner gets as far as that Sydney Test is not guaranteed given his recent Test form. And the glut of cricket between now and then, especially for an all-format opener, makes it even trickier. But it means, in effect, this Ashes could be the last time Warner plays a Test away from home.
Warner is gearing up for what could be as many as six Tests in eight weeks, a World Test Championship (WTC) final against India next week, followed swiftly by the Ashes. His recent Test form has been poor, aggravated by an elbow fracture that ruled him out of the second half of Australia's Test series in India.
"I've always said the [2024 T20] World Cup will be my final game, but I think I probably owe it to myself and my family," Warner said ahead of a training session in Beckenham in the lead up to the WTC final. "If I can score runs here, continue to play back in Australia, I can definitely say I won't be playing that West Indies [Test] series. If I get through this and I can make the Pakistan series, I will definitely finish up then."
That hundred was his first since January 2020. Since the start of 2022, the issue has become more acute: he's averaging 26 since then with just two fifties and a hundred in his last 24 innings.
"For me I've always played every game as if it's my last," Warner said. "That's my style of cricket. I enjoy being around the guys, I love being part of the team, trying to be that ball of energy in the group. I want to just keep working as hard as I can to get there."
The amount of cricket Australia are scheduled to play to that point, however, will be a factor in deciding how far Warner does get. After the English summer, Australia have white-ball commitments in South Africa and India, before the 50-over World Cup. Right after the tournament, they stay on to play a T20I series against India.
"Going back 12 months, [the schedule] looked very daunting," Warner said. "Whether or not you're going to play this Test before this series, given there is a World Cup as well, and we have South Africa as well. And then cricket on the back end of the World Cup in India. Leading into a home summer it's going to be exhausting and I think the boys, rightfully so, the selectors have been speaking to them about the series that we are priding ourselves on. This [WTC] championship, the Ashes, then the World Cup, the big one.
"For us, we have to be up and about. The senior players have to put our hands up, take wickets and score a lot of runs, for us to be on top. If we can manage that and do that, whatever the future throws at the team, we will be able to handle it."
If Warner does get to that Test farewell, it will leave him to prepare for the T20 World Cup, scheduled to be played in the West Indies and USA in middle of next year. That may involve him looking for various franchise deals from February onwards.
"I want to play that 2024 World Cup, it's something at the backend of my mind. We've got a lot of cricket before that. And then I think it stops from February. For me, then I have to play the IPL, some of the other franchise leagues and then get into the rhythm to play that, in June. Will be a bit of cricket around to play."