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Who should replace David Warner as Australia Test opener?

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Last Updated on 9 months by Charbel Coorey

Opinion: A look at who should replace David Warner as Australia Test opener | Cameron Bancroft, Marcus Harris or Matt Renshaw?

David Warner fought hard in the recent Ashes series, scoring 285 runs at an average of 28.50. That those numbers are better than what many expected paints quite the picture, confirming the opener’s tough fight in Test cricket in recent years.

Warner has already indicated the three-match series against Pakistan will be his last, with a desire to finish up at the SCG, his home ground. Given his contribution – 8,487 Test runs to be precise – there is every chance the selectors give him the opportunity to finish on his terms.

However, what happens afterwards? Australia have a two-match series at home against West Indies before two Tests in New Zealand – the first time the Australians will play a Test across the Tasman since 2016. One of three candidates – namely Cameron Bancroft, Marcus Harris and Matt Renshaw – is likely to replace Warner, but who should it be?

A look at the three leading candidates to replace David Warner as Australia Test opener

Marcus Harris

Marcus Harris’ solid First-Class record – 10,012 runs at an average touching 40 – means he is often in the conversation when it comes to opening the batting in Test cricket. He enjoyed a strong finish to the first-half of the 2023 County season, hitting 52 and 122* for Gloucestershire against Durham to send a reminder to the selectors.

The key question is whether the thinktank be willing to hand Harris another chance. The left-hander has flattered to deceive so far at Test level, averaging just 25.29 with three half-centuries in 14 Tests to date. Out of his 24 dismissals, 18 have been caught, with stronger attacks targeting his tendency to fiddle at deliveries in the offstump channel.

In Harris’ defence, however, is the opposition he has encountered. 12 of his 14 Tests have come against England and India, two of the strongest attacks in Test cricket. Should he have a strong start the 2023/24 Sheffield Shield season, a series against struggling West Indies might be the catalyst that springs Harris into runs at Test level.

Cameron Bancroft

Bancroft had a magnificent 2022/23 Shield season, hitting a competition-high 945 runs at an average of 59.06. This included four centuries.

The opener’s form was instrumental in Western Australia winning the title. While it didn’t win him a place on the plane to the UK for the Ashes, Bancroft has been selected for Australia A for their two-match series against New Zealand A starting on August 28.

Should he deliver in those matches, he will be difficult to ignore.

However, does Bancroft have the technique to be prolific at Test level? His thirst for runs and hunger to bat long periods is a big strength, but quality Test attacks will look to square the opener up. It is a common occurrence that his right shoulder ends up facing the bowler, with early-match movement in New Zealand in particular a threat.

Cameron Bancroft does tend to square up often.

Matt Renshaw

Is this Matt Renshaw’s time? The left-hander made a promising start to his Test career in 2016 before he was dropped, which also led to a drop in confidence at domestic level. Add to that the work he put in to improve in white-ball cricket, and it was clear that Renshaw couldn’t quite get the balance right between formats.

However, the last year has been cause for optimism. He struck 200* in the 2022/23 Sheffield Shield season, followed by two centuries in as many matches for Australia A in New Zealand in April. Sandwiched between those two achievements was a wretched two Tests in India, but throwing him in the middle order against world-class spinners was unfair by the Australian thinktank.

Despite that, whether he will get the nod over either Harris or Bancroft remains to be seen. While Renshaw is also susceptible outside offstump, he arguably has the highest ceiling at Test level out of the three, particularly if he has the trust of the selectors.

But, Bancroft’s excellent Shield season last time out and the selectors’ belief in Harris could win either a spot. Time will tell, but a big decision awaits given you’d want to give the selected opener a long run in the role.

Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has also been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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