Warner under review, but has key backing
DAVID Warner's position in the Test team is up for review by selectors for the first time since establishing himself as an opener.
The left-hander has one decent score to his name from a horror run in the Ashes and faces the genuine prospect of being dropped from the fifth Test at The Oval, which starts Thursday.
He does, however, have the backing of captain and coach.
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Stuart Broad has Warner's number. Coming around the wicket and pitching a ball that straightens at the stumps has proved lethal to the batsman who has been dismissed six times by the bowler for a total of 32 runs.
Warner has made three consecutive ducks, is averaging below 10 and has made just 79 in the series - 18 of those from five innings.
His numbers stand in stark contrast to Steve Smith whose lowest score (82) is three more than his contemporary has made in the series.
Captain Tim Paine will argue that Warner should play in the last Test because he is a match-winner and has such a great record. Warner has 21 Test centuries and a career average of 46.
The opener turns 33 next month but was in great form during the IPL and World Cup where he dominated the international competition.
Broad, English wickets and the Dukes ball have, however, proved too much for him as they have in previous Test tours of England.
Warner has never made a century in an away Ashes, but still managed to average 46 in 2015.
Opening is the hardest position in England, both teams have tried six batsmen in the role and only one, Rory Burns, has had any success.
Justin Langer, a former opener himself, is sympathetic to Warner's predicament and publicly supporting the batsman.
"Davey hasn't had a great series but imagine how good the team will be when he starts having a great series and we're hopeful he'll do that in the next Test match," he said after Old Trafford.
Warner has not let his poor form affect his demeanour, he is still one of the most energetic characters on the field and around the group.
He makes a point of running to the boundaries to collect the bowlers' things at the start of the over and his voice is loud.
Australia's only option, if they were to drop Warner, would be to bring back Usman Khawaja but there would be a reluctance to pick somebody who has just been dropped.
Smith has embarrassed every other batsman in the series by making it look easy. His batting is on another level and Langer says he is playing shots that nobody in the game can.
"He (Smith) has done a lot for Australian cricket for the last few years actually, and so has Dave Warner," he said.
"But we've also got to remember, Travis Head is new to Test cricket, Marnus is new to Test cricket, Marcus Harris is new to Test cricket, Cameron Bancroft is new to Test cricket. You can't just give them that experience, they've got to earn that and we're very thankful to have Steve batting (like he is).
"I've never seen batting like that. That on-drive he played yesterday, I just don't know how he does that. I think Ricky's been saying a lot, how do you teach kids how to bat like that? It's unbelievable ... I can't work out how he played that shot. We're lucky to have him but Test cricket takes time. We've got to respect that, it takes a lot of time.
"The other guys are learning as they go and that's all part of the experience. I said at the start of the series I thought the team that bats best will win the series because both teams have got very good bowlers. Our bowling attack is world class, we're very lucky and we're going to have to keep working on that batting."
An emotional character, Langer was relieved that his side secured victory in Old Trafford after somehow losing at Headingley.
"After the last Test match I said 'you've got no idea how much that hurts'… you've got no idea how satisfying that (win) is," he said.
"It's a great bunch of blokes and they've worked very hard. We've got the luxury of six healthy fast bowlers, which I haven't seen for a long time and we've got the luxury of the number one batsman in the world, the number one bowler in the world and great camaraderie within the group. It's very satisfying.
"It was nice to get the job done. It's nice to have it in the bank that's for sure. I know it's a cliché, but it's not over till its over. There was a great feeling up in the room when that DRS went our way in the end.
"You probably watch more balls when you're a coach than a player - it's very different. When you're a player there's obviously the great feeling within the group when you win but you also get a lot of personal satisfaction out of if you play well or you don't play well, but overall I know what goes into it behind the scenes now. When you're a player you don't realise everything else that goes on behind what happens on the field. The players are unbelievable at what they do out there but it's satisfying to get the result."