David Warner, the Australia Twenty20 International captain, has been given a couple of days off before his side’s tri-series campaign resumes against New Zealand on Friday (February 16).
The explosive opener, standing in for regular captain Steven Smith who was rested himself for the entirety of the T20I series, hasn’t been in the best of forms in the limited-overs matches. He managed only 73 runs across five matches during the One-Day International series loss to England, and hasn’t fired in the tri-series with scores of 6, 4 and 2 at the top of the order.
Darren Lehmann, the Australia coach, said on Monday (February 12) that Warner would fly back to Sydney after the Allan Border Medal ceremony in Melbourne and rejoin the rest of the squad, which will fly to New Zealand on Tuesday, right before the game. The two-day break comes at a perfect time for Warner, the only member of the Australian squad to have featured across all three formats in the summer. He will also be an integral part of Australia’s bid to win the four-Test series in South Africa, beginning in March.
“He’d obviously like some more runs but he’s been fantastic in the leadership role with the young guys,” Lehmann said, brushing aside concerns about Warner’s form.
“He’s been training hard … there’s no dramas at the moment. He can only do so much work … he’s been working so hard that it’s almost like (it would help) to just give him a couple of days away from the game.”
Geoff Lawson, the former Australia fast bowler, concurred with Lehmann and pointed out that the lack of runs might result from mental fatigue more than anything else.
“I think he just needs a bit of a rest,” Lawson told Big Sports Breakfast. “Steve Smith’s been rested of course and that’s vital after he had a poor one-day series against England — and a lot of that is mental fatigue. It’s not physical.
“And Dave Warner’s ploughed on into the 20-over series. (But) I reckon he needs a rest more than another game. Even in 20-over cricket you’re going to fail quite often and it’s just not necessary that he plays.”
But despite calls of the burden being too much on Warner’s shoulders, Lehmann defended the decision to put Warner in the captain’s role, citing consistency in leadership as the main reason.
“You’ve got your leaders in Steven and David and you need one of them to captain,” Lehmann said.
“That’s the reason behind it from the selection panel, making sure we’ve got constant messaging through our leaders and David’s been great this series. Steven’s had his break and David will get a mini break and Steven’s got to do the tour game while we play in the final.”
D’Arcy Short, meanwhile, has said he would look to cement his slot as an opening batsman, despite the return of Aaron Finch to the T20I set-up.
Short overcame a modest debut against New Zealand with scores of 30 and 36 in the following games, both against England and both of which were instrumental in helping Australia reach the final.
Finch, who came back to the side after recovering from a hamstring injury, came out to bat at No. 5 in the last match and blitzed a five-ball 20 at the MCG on Saturday.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I think they wanted to keep me opening because I’d done so well in the Big Bash and throwing me down the order might have changed that,” Short said. “I was definitely a little surprised given how well they (Finch and Warner) have done at the top.”
“(But) I think I’m suited there. That’s where I like to bat and hopefully I can stay there.”
Short, 27, scored 572 runs opening for Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League, including the highest-ever BBL score of 122 not out, to be named player of the tournament.
Although having played just three games, Short added that he would force his way into the side in the longer forms of the game and work on playing spin better.
“I go at a run-a-ball against spin – I don’t see what the problem is there,” Short said. “But I’ll obviously keep trying to work at it … to get my strike rate up against (spin) would be good. I’m happy with where it’s at the moment though.”
New Zealand take on England in the first match of the Kiwi leg of the tri-series on Tuesday (February 13).