‘A walking wicket for two years’: Another old Warner teammate questions whether opener should get Test farewell

One of David Warner’s former opening partners, Ed Cowan, has backed up Mitchell Johnson’s view that the retiring left-hander should be given the chance to retire after next month’s SCG Test.

Cowan, who has consistently questioned Warner’s spot in the Test team for more than a year due to the NSW 37-year-old’s ongoing form slump, called for Travis Head or Marnus Labuschagne to be bumped up the order when the vacancy is made open.

Johnson caused a firestorm with his recent column in The West Australian which reignited the debate over whether Warner deserves his three-match farewell series against Pakistan based on his Test form.

Cowan, on the ABC’s Grandstand Cricket Podcast, said Johnson was saying what a lot of cricket fans were thinking with his comments about Warner’s struggles and chief selector George Bailey being too close to the players.

“He’s saying what 90% of people in the pub have been thinking and probably wondering why aren’t discussed more,” Cowan said.

“What I didn’t love – I feel like he would have made a more pertinent argument – was the tone. There was a sense of anger or injustice to it.

“But the actual points around selection, statistically David Warner probably shouldn’t be in the best XI, I think most people agree with.” 

He said “all the noise from inside” the Australian camp is that they don’t want specialist openers Cameron Bancroft, Marcus Harris or Matt Renshaw although the Queenslander could get a start down the track when Usman Khawaja retires.

“I still think personally the best person for the job is either Marnus or Travis Head,” Cowan added.

“That allows you to pick your best six batters with Cameron Green and Mitch Marsh in the team batting at five and six, and it reshapes the team. I don’t think Travis Head would be that keen on that but what it does allow is Steve Smith to bat at three, Travis at four and then your two all-rounders.

David Warner is dismissed by Chris Woakes during the Ashes. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

“With Marnus opening the batting, he’s walking out at one for none anyway. David Warner has been a walking wicket for two years now.

“At least he knows when he’s going to bat, he can prepare and go out and bat. It’s not a big leap to go from batting at three to opening the batting.”

Cowan believes Bancroft, after topping the Sheffield Shield run-scorers’ list for the past two summers, should be the next cab off the rank as a specialist opener but the Australian selectors appear reluctant to give him another chance at Test level, perhaps due to his role in the 2018 ball-tampering scandal.

What do we make of Mitchell Johnson’s comments? Will anyone rock up to the Perth Test? Is Cricket on Amazon unconscionable or a just a sign of the times?@eddiecowan & @CorbinMiddlemas are back to answer all the big questions before the Perth Test. https://t.co/oGDl68AYl4

— ABC SPORT (@abcsport) December 11, 2023

“I feel as though Bancroft has a huge mark against his name,” he said.

“When the leading run-scorer two years in a row in domestic cricket, the person who has also had some success at Test level and over 10 years has shown a mental fortitude that many would dream of, for him not to be front and centre of selection discussions, externally, as in the team openly talking about Cameron Bancroft, then it’s hard to wonder just in fact where his cards are marked and how.”

Bailey and coach Andrew McDonald have stated that Warner has only been selected for Thursday’s first Test against Pakistan in Perth at this stage although they have given no indication that they are considering denying him the planned farewell at the SCG, nearby where he grew up in Sydney’s east.

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