Well, it’s been decided. David Warner is to be the second in charge of the Australian Cricket Team.
My initial feeling is this can’t be good. Cricket Australia has effectively endorsed Warner’s previous behaviour as completely acceptable. His appointment tells every young cricketer in the country that his behaviour is not only ok, but it is encouraged for future leadership opportunities.
Warner has a long list of poor form in the media. There is honestly not much on his resume, outside of his batting record, that reads positive for Australian cricket.
If we look from an outsiders’ point of view, an international point of view, what can we assume other countries are thinking right now?
First thoughts must run to one of two conclusions. Either Cricket Australia is proud of Warner’s past indiscretions and wants someone with his history to have a major hand in shaping the next generation of Australian cricket.
Australian Cricket is so thin that Warner is the literally the only option in this equation and their hands are tied.
I’m fairly confident that we can put the first one to bed immediately. There honestly can’t be any chance that Cricket Australia would look upon Warner’s history as so favourable that they have ruled out all other competitors for the VC position.
What other options are available to the selectors?
First option is Nathan Lyon. Here is a guy who has constantly had people doubt him. He has slowly moved past the competition for his place in the XI, moved past the public expectation of being the next Shane Warne and moved past every off spinner in Australian test history to make the role his own.
Lyon is underrated and comparatively quiet to the many of his team mates. Personally, these are qualities I would like to see held in higher esteem from the board. If Lyon was outspoken and brash, would he have held the spotlight enough to be chosen? Or does the board feel his tactical instincts for the game simply isn’t up to leadership standard? There is every chance that we, the public, actually have no idea of the leadership qualities of the individuals in the team. There has to be some thought given that if Smith is unavailable (God help us) that the VC will have to lead the team into battle and maybe Lyon just isn’t the guy for the job.
Who else, maybe Mitchel Starc? In reality, probably not. While being a massive Starc fan, I think it is fair to assume that he will be rested from time to time. I actually can’t remember the last outright bowler to hold an official leadership role. If anyone can, I would be genuinely be interested to know.
Starc is no doubt a long term member of this test team but his lack of control prevents him being an automatic selection every time (at least till Johnson has retired). It is not unreasonable to think that both the captain and vice-captain should be automatic selections every time, without fail. Which shines some light on why Australia is seriously thin on options.
Who else in the current team is an automatic selection?
Rogers? Retiring… But if he wasn’t, what a perfect stop gap till this team is a little more settled!
Voges? Shaky at best, and probably won’t play against Bangladesh.
Shaun Marsh? See Voges.
Mitch Marsh? So green. Hopefully a long term prospect, but will have some serious competition if Faulkner and Maxwell get some red ball cricket under their belt.
Nevill? Greener than Mitch Marsh but showing enough promise to at least have one hand on his current position for the foreseeable future.
Mitch Johnson? Probably has a case to make, but let’s face it, his hot days and cold days are miles apart. He has enough on his plate just getting his own head space right, without the added pressure of officially leading the team.
Hazelwood? Obviously another long term member of this squad but isn’t a serious option.
So it seems Australian cricket is actually just that thin.
Warner and Smith are the unlikely couple. Can anyone imagine how they would react if three years ago we were told that these two would be holding the captaincy and vice-captaincy of the Australian XI? I think most people would have laughed for a bit, and then stared blankly at a wall wondering how it got to this.
I’m more than happy with Smith. It’s his ability to learn that has me convinced he is a great option. Even though he has had a few poor innings in tests three and four of Ashes, he has the ability to go away and learn from his failings. I genuinely think he will come back bigger and better.
Warner came in as T20 specialist who has shown everyone that he can adapt his game to the test arena. His dismissals in this series have shown that he hasn’t 100% got a handle on the mental side of the game, but he is close, very close. He has had a few poor decisions cost him the chance to maybe land 3 centuries, and put his name down for man of the series. How much difference would this have made to the overall outcome? It’s obviously guess work, but it could have been very, very different.
Warner could genuinely be on the brink of a huge break-through in his game. He has made the step up before to become a prolific opener when compared to the previous tenants of the position. There is no reason he can’t do it again.
While my heart says that Lyon would have been the choice to send the right message. For me it is and opportunity to reshape the culture of this team. Junior cricketers, and other countries need to see that we acknowledge some of our behaviour is poor and we are making the right moves to correct it.
I will be hoping that Warner adjusts himself correctly to fulfil the position. There is every chance with the extra responsibility, Warner will grow. He just may have that extra focus that pushes him through the silly mistakes and converts his starts to innings of more significance
There is also every chance that Warner will let this go straight to his head and they will have to extend the change rooms to fit his ego in.
I’m really hoping for the first. It would be great in five years to look back and discuss what ‘the young David Warner’ was like.
Good luck Dave, there is some serious work to be done and only you can prove the nay-sayers wrong.