Australia captain Pat Cummins has refused to rule out dropping struggling opener David Warner for the finale of the Ashes series.
Left-handed opener Warner has signalled his intention to retire from Test duty against Pakistan at his Sydney home ground next year.
But the 36-year-old may yet be denied the chance to go out on his own terms after another double failure against longstanding England nemesis Stuart Broad during Australia’s three-wicket defeat in the third Ashes Test at Headingley completed on Sunday.
Warner managed scores of just four and one at Leeds, falling to Broad on both occasions with the seamer now having dismissed him 17 times in his Test career.
Although Australia lead the five-match Ashes 2-1, Warner has failed to fire in a series where he averages a meagre 23.50 with just one fifty from six innings.
Warner’s lack of runs has left Australia with a tricky decision in the nine days before the fourth Test at Old Trafford gets underway, although the fact there are no tour games makes it harder for the likes of reserve batsman Marcus Harris to press their case.
Another way in which Warner could be omitted is if Mitchell Marsh, who marked his first Test since 2019 with a superb 118 and two wickets as an injury stand-in for Cameron Green, is retained alongside his fellow all-rounder, expected to be fit to play in Manchester.
Cummins, asked if Warner could be left out to accommodate both Marsh and Green in Australia’s XI, replied: “We’ll keep all our options open. We’ve got nine or 10 days now, so we’ll take a deep breath.
“We’ll go away for a few days but everyone comes back into it. Greeny should be fit for Manchester, we should have a full roster. So we’ll have a look at the wicket, have a chat and work out the best XI.”
Fast bowler Cummins, however, was rather more strident when questioned about the likelihood of Marsh being dropped.
“It’s possible, but it was a pretty impressive week wasn’t it?” he said.
England’s successful pursuit of 251 at Headingley, that revived their Ashes hopes at 2-1 down with two to play, was Australia’s first major disappointment of the tour.
Last month, Cummins led his side to a World Test Championship final win over India at The Oval before his batting heroics guided Australia to a two-wicket success in an Ashes opener at Edgbaston that was followed by a 43-run victory in the second Test at Lord’s.
The matches against Ben Stokes’ men have been especially gripping affairs, with Australia bidding for their first Ashes series win in England in 22 years.
“It’s just tense out there,” said Cummins. “I actually really enjoy being out there and feeling you’ve got some kind of control of the situation when you’re in the middle of it.
“It’s a hundred times worse when you’re in the changing room and you wish you could do something about it but you can’t.”
© Agence France-Presse