Adam Gilchrist has urged David Warner to “trust his instincts” as Australia prepares to open its T20 World Cup campaign on Saturday.
Australia face South Africa in their opening match, with questions hovering over the makeup of the side.
While Warner is all but certain to open the batting alongside captain Aaron Finch, the left-hander’s frustrating IPL campaign, where he was axed as captain and finished the season outside of the entire 17-person matchday squad, has many concerned about his form.
Warner was controversially dropped by Sunrisers Hyderabad after scoring at a slower rate than usual before the season was temporarily stopped due to a Covid outbreak.
The 34-year-old was brought back in, but struggled scoring zero and two before being dropped again. He finished the tournament averaging 24.73 across eight innings.
The ICC T20 Cricket World Cup starts Oct 17 and you can catch the first round on us with Kayo Freebies. Get the play underway at kayosports.com.au/freebies
Fears over Warner’s lack of form were only exasperated after his golden duck in their warm-up against New Zealand, as the free-scoring opener danced down the pitch but only managed to edge Tim Southee to a wide slide where Martin Guptill took a stunning catch.
But Gilchrist, who famously scored a stunning century in Australia’s 2007 ODI World Cup win and played key roles in their 2003 and 1999 triumphs, has backed Warner to open the batting and urged him to stick to his strengths.
“I believe Davey should open,” Gilchrist told foxsports.com.au.
“He’s barely had any cricket to be able to judge how he is going.
“Too dangerous a player to be sitting on sideline at the moment.
“I just hope he doesn’t feel he needs to be too creative in the search for runs.
“One of his greatest strengths is his instinct and being able to react quickly to whatever delivery he receives. If he can trust that, and keep believing, he will break through and our team will be the beneficiaries.”
Warner’s T20 record rivals any.
Only Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli have scored more runs than Warner in the IPL.
But the Australian’s average (41.59) and strike-rate (139.96) is considerably higher than the aforementioned names.
Australia has yet to win a T20 World Cup and come into the tournament with an unsettled side, having not had access to a number of their big names throughout the Australian winter for the tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh.
Their hopes of winning will likely come down to whether Warner and Finch, who too has had his struggles over the past year, can get Australia off to a strong start.
“This is the litmus test for Aaron Finch. This is it,” Cowan said on The Grandstand Cricket Podcast.
“If Australia are bundled out in the group stages, which is not beyond the realms of possibility, he’s no longer the T20 captain. He probably won’t play in the format again.
“David Warner probably won’t play in the format again.
“So this is the group to do it and if this group doesn’t do it we’ve got another group coming through. There have been five years since the last (T20) World Cup, this is the cycle, we’re about to find out if this team is any good.”
“It’s the last roll of the dice for this group of players, because it’s easy when we talk T20 cricket to think, ‘Dave Warner – geez, he’s been a fine player’. And he has. But he hasn’t been at his best in this format for some time,” Cowan said.
“Aaron Finch the same. We cannot overlook the struggles he’s had in this format probably for the last two years.
World Cup Ultimate Guide: Horror run masks Aussie dark horse; England’s daunting shot at history
Exclusive: How Covid robbed Langer of having Aussie great join him in coaching set-up
Cowan, who opened alongside Warner in Test cricket, added that the rest of the team was coming together, but maintained the importance of getting off to a strong start.
“So this is the last roll of the dice for these two,” he said. “The role of the opening partnership in T20 is the partnership. So if they fire, if they find some magic – and it’d be against the run of play – Australia are a chance.
“They have the bowling attack and they have the middle-order explosiveness of Maxwell, Marsh, people that can win a game in 10 balls… If those two can get going and Smith does his thing, we all know how skilful he is, and whether it’s Inglis or Wade – they’re all power players.
“The pieces of the puzzle are there; whether that puzzle comes together, I don’t know.”