(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Sun 3 Dec 2023, 4:38 PM
Australia's chief selector George Bailey has refused to be drawn into the David Warner vs Mitchell Johnson standoff ahead of the three-match Test series against Pakistan down under.
Warner was named on Sunday in Australia's 14-man squad for the first Test in Perth from December 14-18 of the three-match series against Pakistan as he aims to bring the curtain down on his career in Sydney against Shan Masood's team in January.
Warner's selection for the opening Test comes as his former teammate Johnson launched a withering critique of the 37-year-old's recent form and questioned whether he deserved to continue to be selected.
Over the last two years Warner has managed to average fewer than 30 runs with only one century, while his involvement in the "Sandpapergate" scandal in South Africa that rocked Australian cricket in 2018 still tarnishes the Sydneysider's reputation.
"It's been five years and David Warner has still never really owned the ball-tampering scandal," Johnson wrote in The West Australian on Sunday, referring to Warner's year-long ban for involvement in sandpapering the ball to affect flight.
"As we prepare for David Warner's farewell series, can somebody please tell me why?
"Why a struggling Test opener gets to nominate his own retirement date. And why a player at the centre of one of the biggest scandals in Australian cricket history warrants a hero's send-off?"
Bailey refused to be drawn in detail on Johnson's comments but stressed Warner's ability meant he warranted his place in the squad for the opening meeting with Pakistan.
"Ultimately we still think he's in our best 11 players to win the first Test," he said.
Bailey also cautioned against repeating the mistakes made in the aftermath of leg-spinner Shane Warne's retirement when Warner finally calls time on his Test career.
While attention has been trained on whether Warner should be granted the opportunity to end his 12-year Test career on his own terms, Bailey stressed the need to ensure there was no hangover from the departure of such an influential individual.
"I think when you've had someone who's had that longevity and been so dominating in the role, it's just to temper the expectations of whoever is going to be the replacement there," Bailey said.
"Think back to Warney finishing up as a spinner and how many spinners got brought in and shuffled out in the quest to replicate Warney.
"I don't think you ever try and replicate someone who's played a role as someone has, and done it as well as someone has, and I'd put David in that category in the way he's opened the batting for Australia for such a long period of time.
"That's something we're conscious of and making sure that fit post-David is the right one."
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