David Warner battled in the UAE as rivals for his Australian T20 opening spot piled on the runs

David Warner battled in the UAE as rivals for his Australian T20 opening spot piled on the runs
  • PublishedFebruary 7, 2024

As Jake Fraser-McGurk made a white-ball statement in Canberra on Wednesday, another Big Bash slugger went big in his first overseas innings, putting the spotlight firmly on David Warner ahead of the T20 series against the West Indies after he struggled in the ILT20 league.

Fraser-McGurk is fast-becoming the most talked-about player in Australia after swatting the hapless Windies bowling attack for 41 off 18 balls in the third ODI at Manuka Oval, with 31 of those runs coming in a seven-ball boundary-hitting blast.

Hours later Brisbane Heat powerhouse Josh Brown, who picked up his first overseas contract in Bangladesh, got his first game for the Chattogram Challengers and made an immediate impact.

Brown, the batmaker from Brisbane, swatted four huge sixes in a 23-ball innings of 38 in a big win for his team, proving the depth of opening batters in the shortest form of the game is significant enough for Warner to have to perform against the Windies and then New Zealand to guarantee a spot in this year’s T20 World Cup.

The veteran opener battled significantly in his new life as a T20 specialist, making just 115 runs in eight innings as captain of the Dubai Capitals in the tournament in the UAE, before leaving to link up with the Australian side for Friday’s opener against the Windies.

Warner, 37, faced 117 balls, hit just seven fours and three sixes, with a high score of 42 and six scores of 20 or less, including three in single figures as his team won just three games

By comparison, in just three innings for the same team in the same competition, Fraser-McGurk blasted 109 runs off 51 balls, including nine sixes.

Australian cricket great Ricky Ponting urged Fraser-McGurk to be “fast tracked” to get more international exposure, such was his talent, comparing his emergence to Warner’s.

“(Fraser-McGurk) is someone that can be well and truly fast tracked through the Australian system,” Ponting said on Wednesday as he was confirmed as coach of US Major League Cricket’s Washington Freedom team.

“When we saw (Warner) at the start, everyone doubted whether he’s going to be good enough to play Test cricket, technically.

“But with the talent and the skill that (Warner) had – Jake has got as much talent as David had come coming through … the earlier they can get him into the system (the better).

“When you’ve got that sort of talent, you need to be exposed to cricket at the highest level to work it out. Jake can do that.”

While the focus was put on a battle to be Warner’s opening partner at the upcoming World Cup, being played in the Caribbean and US, between Steve Smith, Travis Head and Matthew Short, Warner’s own output could determine whether he keeps his place.

National selection chief George Bailey made it clear how important games against the Windies and Kiwis would be for World Cup selection.

“The next six games will provide us the opportunity to start shaping what we think our World Cup squad will look like and potential roles within that,” Bailey said when the squad for three games in New Zealand was confirmed.

“We will also fully utilise the opportunity to monitor and watch the performances of the Australian players in the IPL immediately preceding the World Cup.”

World Cup-winning Australian captain Aaron Finch declared 21-year-old Fraser-McGurk should “no doubt” be on the selection radar for this year’s tournament, and Steve Smith, who was his captain for the ODI series, called him a Glenn Maxwell clone.

“He’s certainly got all the shots around the ground. I haven’t seen a lot of him play against spin yet but from what I’ve seen, he’s powerful,” Smith after Tuesday’s game in Canberra.

“A couple of shots he actually played tonight reminded me a lot of Maxy, the way the ball was coming off the bat and the swing he has.

“So he’s another one that’s got a bright future by the looks at things.”

It wasn’t just Fraser-McGurk making a mark either. Josh Inglis, a regular T20 team member, registered an unbeaten 35 off just 16 balls in Canberra to go with 65 off 43 balls at the MCG last Friday also opening the batting.

The first T20 between Australia and the West Indies is in Hobart on Friday night.


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