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Cricket 2022: David Warner set to keep Test spot

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Australian coach Andrew McDonald says David Warner’s spot in the Test team is under no threat despite his recent struggles with the bat.

Warner has failed to post a Test match century since the first week of 2020.

McDonald also confirmed skipper Pat Cummins was on track to return for the first Test against South Africa at the Gabba, with Scott Boland set to retain his place in the side ahead of Queensland’s Michael Neser.

The Aussies have already been forced to shuffle their pace attack this summer, with Josh Hazlewood battling a side strain, while Cummins missed the second Test against the West Indies with a quad strain.

McDonald said it was an “arduous task” for the players to back up for five Tests in 40 days but did provide some good news on his quicks.

“It’s good to see that Pat Cummins is shaping really well for the Gabba Test match, so that’s one coming back online,” he said.

“Josh is obviously undertaking his rehab at the moment, so hopefully he’s fit for Melbourne.

“I’m expecting Scott to take that spot at the Gabba. He’s done nothing wrong and his record is amazing at the moment.”

Australia’s brutal takedown of the West Indies bodes well for a hectic 12 months ahead, but there are some concerns over Warner’s form after he failed to turn three starts into anything over 50 against the visitors’ weakened attack.

The 36-year-old has also had to deal with plenty of drama off the field after he withdrew his bid to overturn a leadership ban that had dragged on and was taking its toll on his family.

McDonald said he had full faith in the veteran opener and a lean series against South Africa wouldn’t jeopardise his spot for next year’s tour of India, where he averages 24.25 from eight Tests.

“At this stage we’ve got him in our plans for India,” the coach said.

“We’ll see what happens in the next three Test matches, but at this stage, he’s firmly in our thoughts for India. There have been some challenging conditions in India, but I’d imagine there would have been some similar averages from other batters over there.

“His appetite for the work in and around training is still there. He’s busy at the crease and we’ve seen signs that he is going well, but he’s just found different ways to get out, and sometimes that can happen.

“He’s eager to continue on at this stage. He hasn’t hinted at anything else. We’re building towards a World Test Championship, and he wants to be a part of it, so that’s a clear focus for us.

“I think he’s shown in the past that he can move forward pretty quickly. He’s great at compartmentalising the off-field from the on-field, and I think most of the great champions do that very well. I see this situation as no different.

“We respect and understand David’s decision to withdraw from that appeals process, and he’s moved forward and we’re moving forward as a team.”

McDonald is also hoping that South African players have moved on from the sandpaper scandal of four years ago that saw Warner, Steve Smith and Cam Bancroft banned.

There has been plenty of spice every time the teams have played since, but McDonald said his players wouldn’t get caught up in the drama conjured up by people outside their four walls.

“We’ll wait and see. We’re not sure what’s happening inside the walls of the South African dressing room,” he said.

“Within the walls of our dressing room, you wouldn’t notice any distractions this week.

“People are critiquing that we need to address things on the inside, but we’ve moved on from that and you wouldn’t notice the noise that’s on the outside.”

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