WTC – Aus vs SA Test Series – He is eager to continue

Warner had said last month that he would not play the longest format for another 12 months. However, his experience is crucial for Australia’s tour of India early next year. And before that he is expected to play his 100th Test starting on Boxing Day against South Africa, which rounds off the series on his home ground at the SCG soon after. It may prove to be something of a fitting send-off, but McDonald was confident Warner would extend his Test cricket beyond the domestic summer.

“He’s keen to continue at this stage. He hasn’t hinted [at] something else,” McDonald said. “His appetite for the work — in and around practice — is still there. He is busy on the ground and you have seen signs that he is doing well. He’s just found different ways to get out, and sometimes that can happen.

“We are building towards a world championship in tests [final], and he wants to be a part of that. So that’s a clear focus for us, and we have South Africa as part of that. And so on to India.”

As Australia’s other top batsmen feasted on a listless West Indies bowling in the series – Australia declared each of their four innings during comprehensive wins in Perth and Adelaide – Warner missed out each time, with just 102 runs at an average of 25.50.

It continued a streak for 36-year-old Warner, who has scored just 675 runs at 28.12 in 25 Test innings since his maiden century in January 2020. Pressure has mounted on Warner, with speculation building on his Test career ahead of tough tours with India and England next year, where he has modest records.

But unless something dramatic happens against South Africa, Warner is set for his third Test tour of India, where he has never scored a century, averaging just 24 from 16 innings. And his wealth of experience is seen as vital for a team that is likely to boast several batsmen who have never played Test cricket there.

“We’ll see what happens in the next three Tests. But at this stage he’s firmly in our thoughts for India,” McDonald said. “We’ve seen that the more times you travel around certain areas of the world, the better you get at it.

“But it’s also the knowledge he can pass on to the younger players in and amongst that. We really value our senior players – both on and off the field – in terms of that education process. So it’s a big advantage for those players to be tour in those areas and even if they don’t play, they can still have an impact.”

Warner has also been mired in controversy after withdrawing a bid before the second Test against the West Indies to have his lifetime captaincy suspension lifted. But McDonald felt Warner had the mental will to overcome that saga.

Ahead of what should be a tough three-match series against South Africa – which boasts a star-studded pace attack – Warner has been backed to shrug off the lingering off-field tumult before the first Test at the Gabba starts in December 17.

“He is good at dividing, [and] distinguish off-field from on-field. And I think most of the majors do very well,” McDonald said. “I feel like this situation is no different. We respect and understand David’s decision to withdraw from this appeal process.

“He’s progressed, we’re progressing as a team and we’ve got a seriously good opponent coming up against us at the Gabba. So our focus is definitely on that … and so is David’s.”

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