David Warner strengthened his case for selection for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 by marking his return from elbow surgery with a century.
Warner, who had announced his intent to play grade cricket in Sydney to hit his straps ahead of his national comeback, smashed 110 off 77 balls for Randwick-Petersham in a club match against Penrith. In a boundary-charged assault, Warner biffed four fours and seven sixes to remind the world of his destructive potential.
Warner’s knock comes at an important time, with Australia having decided to leave both him and former captain Steve Smith out for the tour of the United Arab Emirates, where they take on Pakistan in five one-day internationals. Trevor Hohns, the chairman of selectors, has already said that the Indian Premier League would be the preferred route back for both players.
Both Warner and Smith returned early from the 2018-19 Bangladesh Premier League after injuring their elbows. Warner made quick progress, while Smith, who sustained a more serious injury, has returned to the nets. Both become eligible for national selection on 29 March, the day after their respective year-long bans for ball-tampering run out.
Shane Warne, the former Australia leg-spinner, felt that both Warner and Smith would return refreshed and bolster the Australian line-up at the World Cup. Warne, in fact, went so far as to predict that Warner would be the player of the tournament. “I think what you are going to see is a pretty quiet David Warner and Steve Smith. They are just going to try and let their bat do the talking and toe the line,” Warne told The Telegraph.
“I think they will come back better than they were. They’re going to come out and destroy attacks, and I back David Warner to be the player of the World Cup. Warner overstepped the line a lot in his early career. He then changed into a more placid player, but was then told by Cricket Australia to be the enforcer and was doing what he was told.”
Explaining the reason behind his prediction, Warne drew on his own experience of missing out on a year of international cricket, including the 2003 World Cup that Australia won, when he was sidelined for taking a banned substance.
“All I can go on is experience having a year off myself. The next four years were the best I ever had,” Warne said. “I was hungry for the game. My body and mind were fresh, and it is amazing how excited you are to play again. You get excited just going to the nets again because you have taken it for granted in the past.”
An in-form Warner adds to Australia’s selection headaches ahead of the World Cup. While Warner would normally be a shoo-in at the top of the order, his return has been made harder by current limited-overs captain Aaron Finch putting behind a lean patch with 93 against India in Ranchi, and opening partner Usman Khawaja notching up his maiden ODI century in the same match.
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