Updated January 10th, 2024 at 13:06 IST

Australia announces David Warner's replacement; Will it be a masterstroke or a 'master' blunder?

After selectors decided not to select a specialist to replace David Warner for the series-opening match against West Indies, Steve Smith has been promoted to open the batting to create room for Cameron Green's recall to Australia's test XI.

David Warner | Image:AP
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Steve Smith was elevated to open the batting to make room for Cameron Green’s recall to Australia’s test XI after selectors opted not to pick a specialist to replace the retired David Warner for the series-opening match against West Indies.

Cricket Australia’s chief selector George Bailey confirmed Wednesday that Smith will push up the order from No. 4 to partner Usman Khawaja. Green will bat at No. 4 in his first test since losing his spot as allrounder to Mitch Marsh last July

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The 13-player squad includes Matt Renshaw, who has opened for Australia, and fast bowler Scott Boland as injury cover.

“We have selected a team we believe contains the best six batters in the country,” Bailey said in a statement before confirming the batting lineup in a news conference.

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The first test against West Indies starts Jan. 17 in Adelaide. The second match will be a day-nighter in Brisbane beginning Jan. 25.

Warner played the last of his 112 tests in the third match of a 3-0 sweep against Pakistan in Sydney last week.

Renshaw, Marcus Harris and Cameron Bancroft were all considered options to fill the vacant spot.

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Bancroft, who is among the leading scorers in the domestic competition but has only played two tests since returning from his nine-month ban following the so-called “ Sandpapergate” scandal, urged selectors to go with a specialist opener.

Smith volunteered to open the innings and, ultimately, the 24-year-old Green’s immense potential was a deciding factor.

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A tall fast bowler, agile fielder and technically solid batter, Green made his debut as an allrounder against India in December, 2020.

He played 24 tests, averaging 33.6 with the bat and taking 30 wickets, before he was dropped during last year’s Ashes series in England.

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He played in Australia’s World Test Championship final win over India in London, and was also a part of the Australia squad that won the 50-over Cricket World Cup in India last November.

The inclusion of Green and Marsh as well as specialist pacemen Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood gives Australia five big, genuine fast bowling options. Squeezing Green into the batting lineup was the tricky part.

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“The way the rest of that batting order is functioning left us feeling like we have someone who we think is pretty talented, who potentially was going to find it hard to get any test cricket in the next 12 months,” Bailey said of Green. “We can get a lot of benefits out of him playing.”

Smith, who has been the top-ranked batter in test cricket, has scored 9,514 runs in 105 tests at an average of 58, including 32 centuries. He made his debut batting at No. 8 in England in 2010 and played 17 test at No. 3. Otherwise, all others have been in the middle order.

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“Steve’s motivated and energized and keen to (open),” Bailey said of the former captain’s next challenge.

Selectors have started regenerating the limited-overs squad, with Warner retiring from the format and allrounder Marcus Stoinis and spinner Ashton Agar left out of the squad to play West Indies in a three-match ODI series next month.

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Frontline fast bowlers Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and allrounder Mitch Marsh will be rested for the series, while paceman Lance Morris was included and expected to make his international debut.

Aaron Hardie, Matt Short, Jhye Richardson and Nathan Ellis were selected after missing out on the World Cup squad, and Joe Inglis was preferred as wicketkeeper to test gloveman Alex Carey.

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Smith will return as captain to cover for Cummins.

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Australia’s test squad: Pat Cummins (captain), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Matt Renshaw, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc.

Australia’s ODI squad: Steve Smith (captain), Sean Abbott, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Aaron Hardie, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Lance Morris, Jhye Richardson, Matt Short, Adam Zampa.

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Published January 10th, 2024 at 10:23 IST