Pressure on Warner to justify test point but veteran says ‘legs are fresh’ as ​​whispers grow over retirement call

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The last time David Warner participated in an Australian Test summer under such pressure, he had his best season at home.

He will need another vintage Down Under performance in the two West Indies clashes and three Tests against South Africa to ensure he gets one last chance to conquer India and England before the retirement.

Warner enters the first Test against the Windies in Perth as a 36-year-old who just turned 36 and has averaged 28.65 over the last 21 innings since his most recent century against the New Zealand during the SCG match at the start of 2020.

Three years ago, when he was spared by selectors following the disaster of his 95-run Ashes tour at 9.5, he responded with 786 runs in five home Tests, including three hundred, put highlighted by his career-high 335 paces against Pakistan in Adelaide.

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Queensland’s Matt Renshaw is emerging as Warner’s main challenger to be Usman Khawaja’s opening partner after his recent unbeaten double century against NSW and another ton for the Premier’s XI against the Windies in Canberra last week.

(Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)

While the Aussies are overwhelming favorites to topple the Windies, the visiting fast bowling attack is capable of challenging the best hitters in the world, so Warner won’t have it easy on the bouncing deck at Optus Stadium.

Kemar Roach is ranked eighth in the ICC Bowling Test standings, while all-rounder Jason Holder and emerging duo Alzarri Joseph and Jayden Seales can pick up the pace.

Warner is at least heading into the series with decent white ball form under his belt after netting 106 against England at the MCG last week.

The NSW southpaw recently said he is considering hanging up his loose green cap after next year’s tours of India and England to focus on the T20 and ODI arenas in the later stages of his career.

His former opening partner Ed Cowan, on the ABC Grandstand Cricket podcast last week, floated the idea that Warner could retire even sooner, with a home farewell to the SCG in January a potential option for the veteran of 96 games after he becomes the 14th Australian to evoke a century of Tests.

“Those are the whispers,” he said when asked if a retirement announcement could be imminent this summer. “I’ve made a few comments but those legs are still fresh. I’m still scoring points. I’ll have to reevaluate at the end of the season and talk to the family.

“I’m the best planner there is. I know exactly what’s coming for the next five years,” Warner said when asked about the daunting 12-month schedule ahead for the Australian team. “For me it’s a daunting challenge, I knew it was always going to come, it’s going to be a challenge in itself, with three kids and my wife it’s going to be tough.

“But from now on, I have to take each series as it comes. You have to keep scoring otherwise you will start talking about retirement.

“I like where I am right now. I love training, I love the young people who arrive in the group. For me, it’s about helping the team on or off the pitch. I appreciate this responsibility and I love being around the team.

Warner’s Australian record is one of the best ever – 4,824 runs at 60.3 with 18 of his 24 hundreds – as he loves Perth, whether at the WACA Ground or the new Optus Stadium where he tallied a total of 887 runs at 73.91 over seven outings.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 09: David Warner of Australia raises his bat after hitting his half mark in the first round match of the T20 International Series between Australia and England at Optus Stadium on October 09, 2022 in Perth , in Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

(Photo by Paul Kane – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

“It’s exciting to be back in Perth to play cricket in front of a crowd. I haven’t played a red ball here, I’ve played a pink ball game (against New Zealand),” he told reporters on Monday.

“(The Curator) said he was going to leave some more grass on it. I don’t know if you need more than what the World Cup (T20) had on it.

“The beauty of playing in Perth is, like at the Gabba, it’s the cracks. I love seeing the cracks, it’s raw, it’s cool, it’s real and it’s what to put in play.

“With the warm weather it’s inevitable that there will be cracks, but we have to wait and see how it goes.”

Making the transition from the limited format to five-day reviews does not phase Warner.

“As for the last decade, it’s just another game of cricket – the same thing happens to me, a cricket ball. The only thing is to change gears,” he said.

Queensland's Matthew Renshaw watches

(Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

“For us (as hitters), we have time. The wickets for the past two years have been quite bowler friendly and we have had to adapt to that. It hasn’t been the old ‘go out and try to put the pressure on’, it’s been tough.”

Warner said he views Joseph’s pace as a standout feature of a well-rounded Windies offense, while Roach’s longevity reflects his class.

“I think the best thing about these guys is that they got picked up in the Test setup and they had that thirst and desire to keep playing Test cricket,” did he declare.

“I think that’s why Kemar was so successful – he just focused on test match cricket, his body held up well, he played a lot of county cricket.

“And then you have Jason Holder who is an experienced player who can keep the group together, captain for a long time. He’s got a lot of talent with the bat and the ball. With Kyle Mayers also coming through, having a breakthrough season in the West Indies, that which is not an easy place to bowl in. It can be quite flat.

“They complete each other. We will have to study hard before the game. As left-handers, we’re going to face a lot of pins around the wicket.

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