Melbourne [Australia]: David Warner is set to play his first international match, featuring in Australia’s opening ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup match, after serving a year-long ban.
The 32-year-old along with the then captain Steve Smith were found guilty in a ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town last year. Warner was named in his national side’s 15-man World Cup squad. He, however, recently suffered a sore glute during Australia’s warm-up match against England last week which made his playing chances in the first game uncertain.
However, Australia captain Aaron Finch confirmed that Warner has been cleared to play after the batsman passed a fitness test at training on Thursday. The affirmation means Australia’s 2015 World Cup winning opening partnership will reunite in the opening game of the 50-over tournament against Afghanistan in Bristol.
“Davey’s (David) fine, he’ll play tomorrow. In terms of the XI, we’ll wait until the toss to name it. It’s always really tough early in the tournament especially when everyone is coming off really good form in the previous series we’ve played. Dave and I have had a great partnership over the years. That was a pretty key part of our 2015 World Cup win,” cricket.com.au quoted Finch as saying.
Finch, however, said that that his side is yet to finalise on the playing XI, with Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh battling for number three position in the line-up. Warner’s return will split opening partners Finch and Khawaja, who have been very successful lately.
Warner’s record cannot be ignored as he has registered 14 ODI centuries, with only Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist having more among Australians. The Australia captain, who is one ODI ton behind Warner, said that Khawaja is adaptable enough to move down.
“I’ve known them both (Khawaja and Warner) for a long time, I’ve batted with them both for a long time. Whichever way we decided to go with that, it didn’t faze me either way. Davey’s destructiveness in the power play is a huge reason why he’s one of the best players in the world. When he gets in he can be so dominant on attacks.”
“Usman or Shaun, whichever we go at three – Usman’s the number three batter in Test cricket so there’s no issues around whether he can do it. Shaun was very successful when he’s done it over the last 12-18 months. We’ve got some great options there and we’ll sit down this afternoon and nut that out,” he added.
The Australia captain further noted that the defending champions have not settled on the make-up of their bowling attack, although Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa have better chances to appear.
“Everyone’s hitting the ball well in the nets, everyone is bowling well. It’s a real positive – anytime anyone’s been given an opportunity, everyone has taken it, which makes the selection so hard, but it’s a good position to be in all the same,” the Australia captain said.
Along with Warner, Smith will also play in his first game since the 2018 scandal. The right-hander will feature in the middle-order with all-rounders Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell. That would leave Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Kane Richardson and Nathan Lyon jostling for one spot.
Finch assured that all the 15 players will get a chance to see game time in the six-week long event.
“We travel around quite a bit with our games, it’s about adapting to conditions and every player … being ready to go at any stage. The last World Cup we played, all 15 players were used and that wasn’t as long a tournament as this is in terms of games played. It can change at the last minute depending on conditions,” he said.