Michael Clarke’s 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 before losing its third wicket.
Statistics published by cricket website ESPN Cricinfo reveal a grim reality, in particular at No. 3, for Australia.
Australia’s batsmen are averaging only 27.13 in the key position over the past three years – a figure bettered by Bangladesh and all other Test 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 first drop is on the cards in an effort to add the solidity which is severely lacking.
”I just think it will stabilise us a lot,” Warner said. ”Instead of losing three wickets we might only lose one wicket and rotate the strike more.
”I don’t think it is necessarily having Michael at number three. It is about the top four knuckling down and scoring 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 [selectors] are thinking [about] it.”
The current resident at No. 3, Phillip Hughes, has struggled to adjust to Indian conditions and has made only 25 runs in four innings. There were fears the 24-year-old could have been a victim of a facelift to the batting order that would have given Usman Khawaja his first Test appearance in 15 months, until Khawaja was one of four players stood down on Monday.
Australian coach Mickey Arthur said the players, Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson and Khawaja, had been told they would not be considered for selection for the third Test after they failed to give feedback on how the side could recover from the thrashings in the first two Tests.
Earlier, Hughes was thought to be in the firing line for what would be a third time in his Test career despite scoring more 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.
”He is hitting the ball as good as he can in the nets and that’s the most frustrating thing as a cricketer – hitting the ball as well as you can in the nets then coming out in the middle and not scoring runs. Hopefully he gets another chance.
”I just think it’s more of a time thing and being patient. I know personally I like to play shots so I have to hold back to not play any shots, but if I play shots with the ball turning away, that brings first and second slip [into play].
”If he keeps working hard on batting time and play with the spin, he will be fantastic, I reckon.”
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 physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said.
”A final decision on whether he will be available for the third Test will be made closer to the match.”
Warner dismissed a comment by former Indian skipper Dilip Vengsarkar that this could be the worst Australian squad to tour India and said the current side was no worse than past teams.
”In the last 50 years [since 1969-70, in fact] we’ve won one tour … We’re doing pretty well to put up a fight at least.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.