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Is David Warner on the final slide?

After Australia’s loss in Sri Lanka in the second Test, David Warner’s place in the red-ball side is beginning to be questioned.

People can become too obsessed with how long it has been since someone scored a century. Warner’s last Test century was against New Zealand in January 2020 and some have used that as a reason for him to be moved on.

But he scored two 90s against England last summer in Australia. For the sake of ten runs he could have had two centuries last summer, and if that had occurred, would anyone even be talking about his form now?

The other thing to consider is that before the days of openers coming out and smashing the bowling to all corners from the first ball, an opener’s job was to see off the new ball. Opening partnerships were an important achievement to get the team off to the best start.

In general, any team would like to see their team reach 50 with no wickets down, and think the openers had done a good job.

In Sri Lanka, Australia’s opening partnerships were 47 and 10 undefeated, and 15 and 49.

So again, for the sake of a few runs, in two of the three completed innings, the opening partnership had theoretically done the job the team required.

There are two more important issues to be considered in regards to Warner’s future.

Firstly, his technique has been under the microscope since 2019. Before Newlands in 2018 and his subsequent year off, his footwork and hand movements were fast, positive and commanding. He controlled the game, not the opposite.

Since then, and especially the past 18 months, that isn’t there.

His shots are not positive. He doesn’t get right forward or back like he used to, he is in a shuffle. He appears to not be seeing the ball as well as he used to. And since bowlers started to concentrate solely around the wicket to him, he doesn’t seem to be able to fathom the line or length of the delivery.

When he bats, he looks uncomfortable. He looks like it is just a matter of time until he gets out. The way he has been out bowled and LBW recently looks like a player searching for the ball. And at his age, that’s a hard thing to rediscover.

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David Warner of Australia is bowled by Ben Stokes of England prior to it being ruled a no ball during day two of the First Test Match in the Ashes series between Australia and England at The Gabba on December 09, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

David Warner of Australia is bowled by Ben Stokes (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Secondly, this is further evidence of a shallowing of Warner’s abilities.

In 56 Test innings between the end of the 2015 Ashes series and Newlands in 2018, Warner made only seven single-figure scores, or one in every eight innings.

Since his return at the start of the 2019 Ashes to this week, he has played 39 innings and been dismissed in single figures in 17 of them. That figure is near enough to once in every two innings.

Is Warner’s spot really in peril? In the interim it appears unlikely. He averages a touch over 60 in Australia and with series against West Indies and South Africa coming up on hard, fast and true pitches, he will be in the best elements he can face.

Beyond that, with away series against India and England to come in 2023, his position will be dependent on his form leading in, and that of any possible contenders for his spot, and whether the selection panel would risk leaving him out for any potential replacement.

But neither Warner not his opening partner, Usman Khawaja, have time on their side, and thus neither does Australia when it comes to finding their long-term replacements.

As much as Australia would like Warner to find his mojo, perhaps what it wants more is for the next contenders to rise up and seize an opportunity.

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