Struggling Australia opener David Warner, who has had a shocker of an Ashes series so far, is being backed by captain Tim Paine to come good in the third Test at Headingley.
With Steve Smith ruled out due to the concussion he suffered at Lord's, Warner, one of Australia's most experienced batsmen, assumes even greater importance to help the tourists maintain their lead.
But for that, the 32-year-old will have to find a way past his lukewarm returns since returning to the Test fold, marked by a failure to go beyond single digits after four innings. However, Paine is "very confident" that the left-hander will step up to the challenge.
"Very confident [about Warner]," Paine said at Australia's training session at Headingley. "I've spoken a lot about the fact he averages close to fifty in Test cricket, and he's done that over a long period of time. He is allowed to have a bad day.
"I think with Steve [Smith] missing this game, it might be the little poke and prod that Davey [Warner] needs."
Warner has played 76 Tests and scored 6,381 runs for Australia, at an average of 46.91. He faced a similar run drought in 2013, when he lost his place in the side during the Ashes series in England. Warner's record in England by extension is well below his career standards. In the 19 Test innings he has played here, he has scored 574 runs at an average of 30.21. Not one of his 21 Test centuries has come in this country.
I think with Steve [Smith] missing this game, it might be the little poke and prod that Davey [Warner] needs.
In the ongoing Ashes, England's fast bowlers have effectively exploited Warner's weakness and targeted his front pad and stumps. Stuart Broad has dismissed him thrice, while Jofra Archer has dismissed him once. Paine, however, was certain that the added responsibility in Smith's absence will bring the best out of Warner.
"He likes that responsibility, and my experience with Davey is when people doubt him and his back is against the wall, he comes out swinging. I'm expecting the very best David Warner this week."
Echoing Paine's sentiments was Australia head coach Justin Langer, who oversaw Warner's batting at the team's training session. "He looked really sharp in the nets today," Langer said. "He’ll be hungry. Don’t write off David."
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