David Warner’s immediate future at the top of the order for the Australian Test side has become shaky at best, with former teammate and pace bowling legend Mitchell Johnson calling for his retirement.
The Australians were humiliated by one match and 132 runs in the first Test cricket match in Nagpur, including being bowled out for just 91 runs in their second innings – the lowest score ever by any Australian team in India.
Warner, 36, was one of several failures with the bat with just 1 and 10 in his two digs.
It also came after the Australian selectors’ surprise decision to drop world No.4 batsman Travis Head due to his struggles in Asia.
Warner is dismissed by India’s Mohammad Shami during the first day of the first cricket test match between India and Australia in Nagpur
Warner with his wife Candice and daughters Ivy Mae, Indi Rae and Isla Rose. He has posted on Instagram that he misses them after the disastrous first Test
Warner averages just 22.16 in India after 18 innings. In Sri Lanka he averages just 25.22 after 10 Tests, while he has fared slightly better in five innings in Pakistan averaging 33.80.
The only Asian nation where Warner has had success is Bangladesh, with a top score of 123 that takes his average to 62.75 in four innings.
Head had never played Test cricket in India before this series, but averages 22.67 in Pakistan after four innings and 7.67 in Sri Lanka after a miserable tour in mid-2022.
Johnson was blunt in his assessment of what changes need to be made ahead of the second Test starting on Friday, saying Warner should be withdrawn to make way for Head’s return.
Warner and Johnson are former team-mates, pictured here celebrating the wicket of England’s Michael Carberry during The Ashes in 2013
Johnson questioned why the same selection criteria were not applied to Warner as they were to Head, who was sensationally dropped for the first Test against India
He also wonders why the same approach was taken with course horses at Head but not at Warner before the first trial.
“I’d drop David Warner, bring Matthew Renshaw up to open and bring Travis Head into the middle order,” Johnson wrote in his column for The West.
“To leave out Head, who is rated the No. 4 Test batsman in the world, was very strange. The selectors’ reasoning may be due to too many left-handers, but you’re supposed to be picking your best players. Especially the first Test of the series.
“And if it is a policy to field horses based on previous form in the subcontinent, why was this not the case for Warner? That’s where it got blurry for me.’
Former Test skipper Mark Taylor wrote that Warner would need to find form in a hurry if he was to keep his place in the playing XI for the remaining three matches of the Border–Gavaskar Trophy series.
“Davey in India… not his favorite place to play. That’s an understatement,” he wrote for Wide World of Sports.
Taylor knows the unique challenges India present first-hand and said Warner would need a huge boost to succeed in the remaining three Tests of the series
He averages 22 in India where he has no bounce or pace on the ball. He hasn’t had that before in India and he’s not going to get it at all in this series, but he’ll have to find a way to dominate India’s batting if he stays in the side. ‘
However, it is not just India where Warner is struggling.
The veteran has played 11 Test matches away from Australia since April 2018. In those 11 Tests he has scored just 339 runs at an average of 16.95.
In his last eight Tests across all venues, home and away (14 appearances), he has a score of 50 or more.
Head is the fourth-ranked Test batsman in the world and was brutally unlucky to be dropped for the first Test. It could be set to redial
Warner tries to get out of trouble in the first Test. He now faces the ax after a prolonged run of poor form in the subcontinent
The left-hander has a highest score of just 71 in Tests in India despite playing for almost a decade in these conditions.
After a miserable tour of Sri Lanka, Warner said he was ready to give away the Test game of cricket to Asian nations, revealed in Amazon documentary The Test.
‘I am done. “One game to go and never tour the subcontinent again,” he said at the time.
“Too much stress on my mind that I don’t need.
“The memories were horrible,” Warner recalled after the 2016 series.
“They were hitting me on both sides of the bat with the spin ball.”
Warner also posted a picture of his wife Candice and daughters Ivy Mae, Indi Rae and Isla Rose after the heavy loss in Nagpur with the caption ‘My world’. See you soon girls with a series of love emojis.
The fitness of injured players Mitchell Starr and Cameron Green will likely be assessed ahead of the second Test, while Queensland left-arm spinner Matthew Kuneman has flown to India to replace Mitchell Swepson who is returning home for the birth of his first child .
Australian coach Andrew McDonald said they were unlikely to make wholesale changes.
“If you feel like your preparation has been good and the way you want to go forward is good, then you recommit to it,” McDonald said.
“If you change and try to change too much, then you’re going to get lost as a touring team.
“We’ve seen teams come to Australia and try to do the same.”