David Warner will take front stage when the three-match series against Pakistan begins on Thursday, marking the end of the Australian opener’s Test career.
The 37-year-old has stated that he intends to retire from the five-day game following the third Test at his home ground, Sydney Cricket Ground, early next year.
Warner has been a fixture in the Australian team for over a decade, but his Test form has come under question, with only one century since early 2020.
Mitchell Johnson, a former teammate, has stated that he does not entitled to control the terms of his departure.
Former fast bowler Johnson asked in a newspaper editorial why Warner should be given a “hero’s send-off” despite his poor Test form: “Can somebody please tell me why?”
Johnson also mentioned Warner’s pivotal participation in the 2018 “Sandpaper-gate” ball-tampering affair.
Chief selector George Bailey stated that Warner had earned his place in the Australia squad for the first Test in Perth.
Beyond the first Test, however, there are no assurances, putting Warner under pressure to make runs if he wants to go out on his own terms with an emotional send-off in Sydney.
“Davey’s playing the first Test match, and we’ll go from there,” coach Andrew McDonald said.
“Until we have to make that decision it’ll continue to I suppose bubble away and the speculation will be there.”
Pat Cummins’ squad are strong favourites to defend their World Test Championship against Pakistan.
Winning the WTC was part of a successful year that included retaining the Ashes and winning the one-day World Cup last month, with Warner being Australia’s leading scorer.
Pakistan has only won four Tests in Australia dating back to 1956-7, and none since 1995, when they triumphed by 74 runs in Sydney.
They have never won a Test series on their 12 visits to Australia.
“They’ve gone through some transition with their coaching staff and management and I think in the last series they played, they played a more up-tempo brand in a bid to put more pressure on the bowling,” McDonald said.
“I believe we’ll see a little more of that.” But, like with anything, if we execute effectively with the ball, it will be difficult for them to maintain it over lengthy periods of time.”
Pakistan were blasted by an innings and five runs in Brisbane and an innings and 48 runs in Adelaide on their most recent two-Test visit in 2019.
In his two knocks, Warner made 154 and 335 not out.
Aside from Warner, Pakistan will have to deal with one of the world’s most lethal bowling assaults, which includes Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Nathan Lyon.
Lyon is four wickets away from joining only seven other Test bowlers, including spin kings Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, and Anil Kumble.
Pakistan is in Australia not merely to compete, but to win, according to team director Mohammad Hafeez.
“In our training, we checked off the majority of the boxes. “Everyone on the team is eager to show off their skills and win,” he stated.
They will aim to do so following a catastrophic World Cup and off-field instability, with the country’s cricket board replacing the national team and support staff.
Shan Masood has taken over as captain in all three forms after Babar Azam stepped down, and there are a bevy of new faces.
Azam leads their batting, with Shaheen Shah Afridi the only fast bowler who has already played in Australia.
Uncapped fast Khurram Shahzad, dashing left-hander Saim Ayub, and all-rounder Aamer Jamal are among the newbies.