- David Warner picked for Opening Test
- Opener’s place has been subject of debate
- Mitchell Johnson blasted veteran player
Aussie selectors have stuck with David Warner for the first Test of the summer, keeping the veteran opener’s dreams of a farewell at the SCG in January alive.
Warner features in a 14-man squad announced on Sunday, as Australia prepare for the three-Test series against Pakistan at Perth’s Optus Stadium starting on December 14.
Warner’s selection in the squad comes just hours after former fast bowler Mitchell Johnson branded the veteran as ‘arrogant’ and questioned if he ‘warranted a hero’s send off’.
‘Does this really warrant a swansong, a last hurrah against Pakistan that was forecast a year in advance as if he was bigger than the game and the Australian cricket team?’ wrote Johnson in The West Australian.
‘It’s been five years and Warner has still never really owned the ball-tampering scandal.
Australian selectors have stuck with David Warner for the opening Test against Pakistan
Mitchell Johnson launched an extraordinary attack at Warner in an explosive column
‘Now the way he is going out is underpinned by more of the same arrogance and disrespect to our country.’
Warner will start the summer opening with Usman Khawaja despite having scored just one Test century since January 2020, a memorable 200 against South Africa in last year’s Boxing Day match.
Even if Warner’s form is shaky in Perth and Melbourne, selectors will not make a change unless Australia face an unlikely challenge from a Pakistan team who head down under amid ongoing dysfunction at board level and within their administration.
Nathan Lyon is set to play his first Test since tearing a calf muscle during the Ashes, replacing young tweaker Todd Murphy.
Western Australian tearaway Lance Morris has also been included in the 14-man squad.
Mitch Marsh is likely to retain the allrounder position batting at No.6 after WA teammate Cameron Green was axed during the Ashes.
‘This group, led by Pat Cummins, has built a strong resume over an extended period,’ chairman of selectors George Bailey said.
‘We believe they have earnt the opportunity to start in our first home Test match at the beginning of the new World Test Championship cycle.
Warner struggled with the bat in the UK this year, despite the Aussies retaining the Ashes
Nathan Lyon will return to the team after a serious calf injury
‘Thirteen members of the squad were part of the victorious World Test Championship and successful Ashes tours over the winter and Lance Morris has been recalled after recovering from his back injury over the same period.
‘As ever, there will be opportunities in the short to medium term to break into this squad and we look forward to seeing the continued strong performances from players who have been performing domestically, many of whom will get a tremendous opportunity in the PM’s XI fixture against Pakistan later this week.’