Box office David Warner can deliver Australia Cricket World Cup success
Australia’s national selectors named their Cricket World Cup squad on Monday (15 April) and, love him or loathe him, David Warner must have been one of the first names on the list.
Warner and Steve Smith’s inclusions were the main headlines of the 15-man selection, with Peter Handscomb and Ashton Turner missing out as a result.
Both have served their time after being banned for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal last year and the 32-year-old opener especially has stormed back to top form.
In a tearful news conference when his one-year ban was first announced in March 2018, Warner admitted he was resigned to not playing for Australia again.
But, just a year on, Australia cannot do without him as they look to defend their title and claim what would be a fifth World Cup win out of the last six.
Aaron Finch made scores of 116, 153*, 90, 39 and 53 at the top of the order in the latter series, while Usman Khawaja opened with him and scored 655 runs across the two series.
But Warner will bolster the batting line-up, proving as much with his stunning recent batting form.
Back with a bang
Warner (alongside Smith) was free to return from his ban for the latter part of the Pakistan series, but Cricket Australia decided both would benefit more from playing in the Indian Premier League.
Smith has been inconsistent in India, but Warner has thrived with a stunning display of his best batting form.
He showed glimpses of it with some useful knocks for Sylhet Sixers in the Bangladesh Premier League, but the big-hitting left-hander has taken it to new heights for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Warner laid the foundations with 85 in the opening match, before 69 in the second game and an unbeaten century in the third.
Forming a formidable opening partnership with England’s Jonny Bairstow, Warner then hit an unbeaten 70 in the win against Kings XI Punjab and 51 against Delhi Capitals.
It meant that, on the day Australia named their World Cup squad, Warner was top of the IPL batting charts with 400 runs from seven innings, at an average of 80 and with a strike rate of 140.35.
He is box office, and the Cricket World Cup deserves the very best – even if that involves controversial selections.
It is also important to remember Australia’s form in the UAE against Pakistan is not necessarily reflective of how they will perform in England.
Khawaja is unproven in ODIs in England, whereas Warner averages 31. Though lower than his ODI average, he has still scored runs and that record is arguably negatively affected by an injury he suffered while batting in the second match of the 2015 bilateral series.
Khawaja and Finch average 81.70 for the first wicket in 2019, but Warner and Finch, who have batted together far more often – 48 times to be exact – average a decent 44.29 too.
Warner has been there and done it on the biggest stage too – scoring 345 runs in eight innings at the last World Cup.
Finch has already suggested all three will be in the batting line-up come the World Cup – the only question being who will join him opening the batting.
He will receive a hostile reception in England – and deservedly so – but there is also a grudging respect of the fact he is one of the world’s leading limited-overs batsmen.
To select him, and to disrupt a winning team, would be a gamble but it is one Australia need to make. David Warner is back to his big-hitting best and, love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.