Ashes tour diary: David Warner eyes one final crack at success in England in 2023

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

With the Ashes gone after Australia took an unassailable 3-0 series lead, England have started preparations for the fourth Test which begins in Sydney on January 4.

Here, Standard Sport’s cricket correspondent Will Macpherson provides the latest instalment of his Australia tour diary...

Net Gains

England had held a net session today, which is unusual the day after a game. It was mainly for those not involved in the Test, with the dropped Rory Burns and Ollie Pope having a long bat and Dom Bess getting plenty of bowling in.

But also in attendance were England’s entire top three from Melbourne, Haseeb Hameed, Zak Crawley and Dawid Malan. In six innings in the match, none made it to 15.

Rory Burns was involved in England’s net session today (Getty Images)
Rory Burns was involved in England’s net session today (Getty Images)

There will be another net session on Thursday, although it is likely to be even more low-key.

Take the negatives

If all is well on the Covid-19 front, England will leave Melbourne for Sydney on Friday.

They will have to leave behind six members of the party, who have tested positive for Covid-19. England are exploring whether it is possible to move these groups – who are spread across three families – into an AirBnB style facility for their isolation, rather than the team hotel which, while lovely, does not have balconies.

This also leaves England a little light on coaching staff, so they are exploring options to get a couple more throwers in to help their batters train in the nets.

Running for cover?

England batting coach Graham Thorpe is one of nine men who will be interviewed for the vacant job as Middlesex Head Coach next month. Thorpe, a Surrey legend, has been a popular member of the England setup, but is 52 and likely keen for a new challenge.

As revealed by Standard Sport, Middlesex sacked Stuart Law recently, placing Alan Coleman in temporary charge.

Been Warned

David Warner’s response to Stuart Broad playing just one of the first three Tests? “Great result”. Broad famously dismissed Warner seven times in 2019, but has played only in Adelaide this time. That said, he seems likely to return for the Sydney Test.

Success in England has so far eluded Warner, who at 35 is wondering if he might get one final Ashes crack in 2023. Right now, there seems no reason he should not.

“Winning the Ashes here was a big one,” Warner said, of his aims. “We still haven’t beaten India in India, that would be nice to do. England away, we had a drawn series, if I manage to get that chance and opportunity I might think about going back.”

Run glut

The bucketload of English runs in the BBL has not gone unnoticed by Australian commentators. Sam Billings, Ben Duckett and Joe Clarke have all been in rude form this week, in stark contrast to their Test colleagues. You just wonder…

Sweeping changes

After the introduction of Michael Neser and Scott Boland, as well as the emergence of Cameron Green and Jhye Richardson as major Test bowling forces, there is appetite for more debuts among the Australian media.

Mitchell Swepson could be in line for an Australia debut as a second spinner alongside Nathan Lyon (Getty Images)
Mitchell Swepson could be in line for an Australia debut as a second spinner alongside Nathan Lyon (Getty Images)

There is a suggestion that Mitchell Swepson, the 28-year-old Queensland leggie who has appeared in the white-ball formats, could be in line for a debut as a second spinner alongside Nathan Lyon. The pitch in Sydney is likely to be dry, Green balances the side nicely, and Australia have three tours of Asia coming up.

Starc reality

Ben Stokes is not one to mind too much about the ICC’s Test player rankings, which are broadly a nonsense. But even he might have had a wry smile at Mitchell Starc’s elevation above him in the all-rounders’ list.

Starc, Australia’s No9, is bowling brilliantly and enjoying piling on the pain with England.

Stokes, meanwhile, has missed 10 of England’s last 17 Tests and is struggling for rhythm. He’ll be back.

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