Michael Clarke’s pending move up the batting order will stabilise Australia’s fragile top four, according to opener David Warner.
The Test captain has considered promoting himself as high as No. 3 for Thursday’s third Test against India at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, driven to action by the top-order failures that led to the humiliating innings defeat in Hyderabad last week.
Only in the first innings of the first Test in Chennai has Australia progressed past 100 runs by the time they have lost their third wicket, and too often, not just on this tour, Clarke has been left to pick up the pieces.
Statistics published by leading cricket website ESPN Cricinfo reveal a grim reality, in particular at No. 3 for Australia, with the country averaging only 27.13 in the key position over the past three years – a figure bettered by Bangladesh and all other Tests nations except New Zealand and Zimbabwe.
Clarke is unlikely to bat any higher than No. 4 beyond this series but on the subcontinent a leap of two places to the problematic first-drop has been on the cards in an effort to implement solidity severely lacking above him.
“I just think it will stabilise us a lot, instead of losing three wickets we might only lose one wicket and rotate the strike more,” Warner said. “I don’t think it is necessarily having Michael at No.3. It is about us who are the top four to knuckle down and score runs that’s the main issue.
“If we can do our job right there is no reason to reshuffle the order. I think that is the reason why they are thinking [about] it.”
The current resident at No. 3, Phillip Hughes, has struggled to adjust to Indian conditions and posted only 25 runs in four innings here. The 24-year-old stands to be a victim of a facelift of the batting order that alongside a promotion of Clarke could also see Usman Khawaja granted a first Test appearance in 15 months.
Australia coach Mickey Arthur has indicated the team is unwilling to discard the also under-performing Shane Watson, saying the tourists needed a major lift from the vice-captain if they were any hope of squaring the series and retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. That leaves Hughes in the firing line for what would be a third time in his Test career despite scoring more total runs than any Australian, including Clarke, in international and domestic longer-form and one-day games during the summer.
“Phil is in a patch at the moment where he isn’t scoring as many runs as he would like, but I’m sure if the selectors stick by him he will come good,” Warner said.
“He is the type of player who always puts runs on the board, especially when he scores a hundred he scores a big hundred, it’s only a matter of time.
Veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin left Sydney on Monday headed for Mohali as cover for first-choice gloveman Matthew Wade.
The Victorian sprained his right ankle playing basketball during a day off from training. “Matt has a complex ankle injury which has been confirmed by the scans and at this stage is in doubt for the third Test,” team physio Alex Kountouris said.
“A final decision on whether he will be available for the third Test will be made closer to the match.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.