Supporters and critics keen on a cheeky punt via a health lottery promo code or something similar will know that the Aussies are among the favourites for the 2019 ODI showpiece in England and Wales, but opinion is polarised on Warner’s participation.
Banned for a lengthy period after his involvement in the ball-tampering and match-fixing scandal that rocked the Newlands Test with South Africa and, indeed, world cricket earlier this year, Warner is on the comeback trail.
The hard-hitting left-hander played for the Winnipeg Hawks in the inaugural Global T20 Canada tournament in King City, where he shrugged off a slew of low innings to strike a brisk 55 and complementary 42 against the Edmonton Royals.
It’s the preceding 1, 4, 1, 6 and 0, though, that all but insist he is not yet back to his best – and the knock-on effects of the drama in Cape Town – and the media tirade that followed – have still got the diminutive opener on the back foot.
More recently, the 31-year-old Warner has arrived out in the middle during some modest club-level cricket in the NT Strike League. There, too, he hasn’t been at his best. While this doesn’t necessarily cast questions over his potential return to the Australian limited-overs squad, it certainly leaves those in the know wondering if the national selectors should look elsewhere.
Throwing a youngster in the proverbial deep end, rather than waiting on a jaded veteran to rediscover his groove, certainly has legs.
The time seems right to really invest in Aaron Finch and Travis Head at the top of the order, as a near permanent combination for the foreseeable future. That, of course, would leave Warner surplus to requirements – perhaps rightly so.
There are other options waiting in the wings as well. Any one of Alex Carey, Marcus Stoinis, D’Arcy Short or Shaun Marsh could be elevated to the top of the knock in the absence of Warner. Short seems the most natural candidate, having done the job up front for Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League and Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League. His stint with Hobart was evidently more fruitful than his time with the Royals, but both showed he is the frontrunner for the gig in question.