Usman Khawaja has shone the spotlight on a sobering reality for Australian cricket as questions over his opening partner linger.
The lean form of David Warner in recent times has put the topic of his Test retirement firmly in the headlines.
He is 36-years-old – the same age Khawaja will become on Sunday – but Warner’s 2022 scorecard looks markedly different to his fellow left-hander.
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Khawaja has amassed an incredible 1066 runs this year which includes four centuries for Australia. Warner has scored only 368 runs in nine matches in 2022, and has not scored a century in almost three years.
Warner will line up at the Gabba against South Africa on Saturday, and is as good as assured his spot for the remaining two Tests this summer.
But with tours to India and England next year looming, there’s been suggestions Australian selectors should move to find a replacement for the swashbuckling veteran.
But, according to Khawaja, that task is not so easy.
“I look at it from a wider perspective,” Khawaja told media in Brisbane.
“I’ve played domestic cricket for the last few years, I’ve seen what’s around, we have some really good cricketers coming up… but we’ve got no David Warners.
“I think the batting line-up we have right now, the top six, are the top six players in the country.
“A few games here doesn’t really make a difference for me, if you have the choice between picking David Warner or someone else I’d be picking David Warner every day of the week.
Warner’s Test spot safe for now
“I think the opposition players know that too, because they know how quickly he can turn a game. I just assume he’s going to make runs sooner rather than later.”
Australia’s spare batter in the current Test squad is Marcus Harris, who has been gifted 14 matches for his country but never reached triple figures, for a rather measly average of 25.29.
Matthew Renshaw played the last of his 11 Tests in 2018 and averages 33.47 in the format, while young Victorian prodigy Will Pucovski scored 62 on his Test debut in January 21 but has been plagued by concussion issues since.
Pucovski was considered a long-term opening batter for the Australian Test team but his future in the sport remains under a cloud.
In India, Warner averages only 24.25 – down on his overall Test average of 46.04 – while in England he averages 26.04.
He endured a horror 2019 Ashes campaign in the mother country where he averaged less than 10.
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