LONDON (Agencies): David Warner has kept his place in Australia’s XI for the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford despite the opener’s ongoing struggles against England paceman Stuart Broad.
But spinner Todd Murphy could be omitted when the match starts Wednesday as Australia contemplate going into a Test without a frontline slow bowler for the first time in 11 years.
Australia captain Pat Cummins, bidding to lead the side to a first Ashes series win in England since 2001 at 2-1 up with two to play, said Tuesday that Warner would continue to open alongside Usman Khawaja.
Warner managed just five runs in total as he fell twice to Broad during England’s three-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley. Broad has now dismissed the left-hander 17 times in Tests and could equal the record for most dismissals by a bowler against a single batsman at this level — held by Australia great Glenn McGrath, who claimed the wicket of former England captain Mike Atherton 19 times –- if he does another double over Warner in Manchester.
But Cummins said Warner’s role in three partnerships over 50 had helped Ashes-holders Australia establish their series lead and backed the 36-year-old, averaging a meagre 23.5 after six innings, to return to form this week.
‘Back Davey’ –
“Davey didn’t have his best game last week at Headingley but prior to that, I think he’s looked really good –- he’s had three fifty-run partnerships which can be rare over here in England,” Cummins told an Old Trafford news conference on Tuesday.
The fast bowler added: “We back Davey, absolutely. We know how tough it can be to open over here. He’s doing all the right things, he’s shown some great signs and I’m sure a big score is just around the corner.” Cummins also confirmed Josh Hazlewood would replace fellow seamer Scott Boland, who has taken just two wickets in two Tests at a hugely expensive average of 115.5.
Meanwhile, fit-again all-rounder Cameron Green could replace Murphy after the novice spinner bowled just 9.3 overs at Headingley following Nathan Lyon’s tour-ending calf injury in the second Test at Lord’s.
“Nathan Lyon is the greatest off-spinner we’ve ever had so it’s not quite apples for apples (in comparing him to Murphy),” Cummins said. “We are really excited by Todd, we think he’s fantastic. He’s got a big future. It was more conditions or the way I used him, as opposed to how he bowled.”
Australia only need a draw in Manchester to retain the Ashes. But having been in the shared 2019 series in England, Cummins is determined to lead Australia to an outright Ashes campaign win this season and so crown a tour that has also seen his side defeat India in the World Test Championship final at The Oval.
Rain is forecast to fall in Manchester later this week, with Tests at Old Trafford infamous for being interrupted by bad weather.
“The first preference is always to try to win,” said Cummins. “We drew the 2019 series and we’ve all come back pretty clear we want to win this one.”