The cacophony of calls for David Warner to be dropped continues to ring louder and louder in the ears of the Australian selectors after two more Asian failures in the first Test in Nagpur.
While Warner was not alone, with Australia capitulating to one of their worst ever defeats against India in a loss that will spark serious soul-searching among the tourists, the 36-year-old entered the home summer with the public calling for his head after a string of low scores.
Barring a magnificent fighting double-century in the Boxing Day Test against South Africa in the blazing Melbourne heat, Warner hasn’t passed 50 since the March tour of Pakistan last year, which were notably on some of the flattest wickets seen in recent memory, and averages 17.8 from 22 innings over the last two years.
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To find a previous score above 50 that wasn’t on the roads of Pakistan, you would have to go all the way back to December 2021 in Adelaide, where he scored 95 off 295 deliveries against the touring English.
Warner’s former teammate, Mitchell Johnson, who famously tore England apart in the 2013-14 Ashes, penned a column in the West Australian after India went 1-0 up in the series in Nagpur, saying that David Warner should be dropped for the second Test, after scores of 1 and 10 in the first Test in Nagpur.
“I would drop David Warner, elevate Matthew Renshaw to open and bring Travis Head into the middle order,” Johnson wrote.
While Head only averages 21.30 in Asia, and comes off a tour of Sri Lanka where he scored 23 runs at an average of 7.66, as well as being a left-hander, which on this tour has seen players cast aside in favour of right-handers, Johnson questioned the consistency of the selection panel’s approach to Head.
“If it’s about a horses for courses policy based on previous form in the subcontinent, why didn’t that apply to Warner?”, Johnson wrote.
“That’s where it got murky for me.”
Warner famously has also struggled in the subcontinent compared to his dominance at home.
He averages 22.16 in India, compared to 58.39 at home.
Warner’s struggles against right-armer coming around the wicket were exacerbated in the first Test, with Mohammad Shami squaring him up and sending his off stump cartwheeling with just his seventh delivery of the series.
In January, News Corp revealed the toll that Warner’s struggles in Asia have had on him, with diary entries shown in the second season of the Amazon documentary The Test showing how tough he has found the subcontinent.
One entry, dated to August 27 2017, reads “I am done.
“1 game to go and never again touring subcontinent.
“Too much stress on my mind that I don’t need.”
Warner also described his memories of the 2016 tour of Sri Lanka as “f**king shit.”
“Memories were horrible,” Warner recalled.
“I was getting beaten both sides of the bat with the spinning ball.”
Despite the grim nature of the defeat in Nagpur, it remains unlikely that Australia will drop their star opener – since debuting for Australia in 2009, Warner has never been dropped from the national side barring a one-year period of suspension in 2018-19.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Malcolm Conn has reported that discussions had taken place about Travis Head taking David Warner’s spot at the top of the order, according to anonymous sources.
Coach Andrew McDonald insisted on Sunday that no discussions had taken place about Head replacing Warner as an opener “at this stage.”
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