Will Pucovski is being spoken of for a Test berth.
Will Pucovski is being spoken of for a Test berth.

Warnie: Where there’s a Will there must be a way

I WANTED Will Pucovski to be part of the Ashes campaign.

The old Australian way for the Ricky Pontings and these guys who come in, was they all bat at No. 6 and work their way up the order.

I'd like to see him get a nice No. 6 role and just ease into it.

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He's the future of our batting, he's the best young player in Australia and it's time to give him a go.

Pucovski would get his chance if Warne had his way. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Pucovski would get his chance if Warne had his way. (AAP Image/Darren England) DARREN ENGLAND

 

SHANE WARNE'S FIRST TEST 12

David Warner

Usman Khawaja

Marnus Labuschagne

Steve Smith

Matthew Wade

Will Pucovski

Tim Paine

James Pattinson

Pat Cummins

Nathan Lyon

Josh Hazlewood

Mitchell Starc (12th man decided after seeing conditions at the Gabba)

 

SHANE WARNE'S BATTING ORDER EXPLAINER

WARNER

He really struggled against Stuart Broad in bowler-friendly conditions at the Ashes, but will perform really well back here in Australia. If anyone wants to write him off do so at your peril, because class is permanent.

KHAWAJA

He's still got a lot to offer and he plays well in Australian conditions. But I want to see a lot more energy and him give a lot more to the team and make some hard, tough runs when the team needs him - not when it's easy and it's flat.

LABUSCHAGNE

There weren't too many players that enhanced their reputations over the Ashes and he was definitely one.

SMITH

World class, simply the best Test player on the planet. Just keep doing what you're doing.

Matthew Wade was a standout with the bat in the Ashes. Picture: Getty Images
Matthew Wade was a standout with the bat in the Ashes. Picture: Getty Images

WADE

Two hundreds at the Ashes in bowler-friendly conditions. Got unlucky a couple of times but I think he's worth persisting with. I like his grit, I like his determination and I think he's a bit of a hard nut.

PUCOVSKI

See above.

As far as skipper is concerned, Tim Paine can continue for as long as he wants - if he makes runs.

There's no point in Paine not making runs and just being captain.

Yes, he's the best wicketkeeper in Australia but I look at that No. 7 spot and think there are some candidates such as Alex Carey and Josh Philippe who could dominate with the bat and be very good with the gloves.

Phillippe, 22, is young and would be a pick ahead of schedule, but a good punt.

The looming question is this: if Paine doesn't make any runs this summer and Steve Smith is allowed to be captain of the side in March, what is best for Australian cricket, and what is best for Smith?

I would love Smith to just bat and be the experienced senior player in the group.

Don't take over the captaincy again, don't have all that responsibility, just go and hit 5000 balls a day in the nets, or 10,000, and keep churning out hundreds and continuing to be the best Test batsman in the world.

That's what I would like to see happen.

But a problem arises if Paine doesn't make any runs.

Then you say: "Well, hang on, we can get something better from that spot. Let's start blooding a young Philippe or bring in Carey, who could be there for five years."

Then the question is this: who becomes the captain?

At the moment there is no real standout who jumps out at you and says "I should be captain".

Travis Head, 25, could be a future captain, but I worry because he hasn't consolidated his spot.

Travis Head just hasn’t made enough runs to be considered strongly for the first Test.
Travis Head just hasn’t made enough runs to be considered strongly for the first Test.

If I'm picking my first Test team for the summer, he's not in it.

I would like Head to keep making runs then eventually he could become Test captain.

Right now, I would have no issue with making someone like Pat Cummins captain if Paine doesn't make runs in the next six home Tests.

I think Cummins is the standout Australian player.

The way he conducts himself on and off the field is great and he has total respect from all the players, too.

I wouldn't make Smith captain.

Tim Paine belted a century for Tasmania earlier this month. Picture: Getty Images
Tim Paine belted a century for Tasmania earlier this month. Picture: Getty Images

The only way I would consider Smith is if he has to be captain because Paine gets dropped, Head isn't doing any good and Cummins doesn't want it - although someone could put their hand up over summer.

If they don't, then suddenly you might have to say: "Geez, we've got no one else."

There's no question Smith could do it, but is it the best thing for Smith and for Australian cricket?

Paine recently made just his second first-class hundred, batting for Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield.

Now he needs some substantial scores when Australia need him, when the team is struggling and when the top-order has failed.

That's when Paine has to come in and deliver.

Alex Carey is waiting patiently for his Test chance.
Alex Carey is waiting patiently for his Test chance.

I believe he has to make a hundred this summer and dominate with the bat.

If he does that he can be captain for as long as he wants to play cricket.

I've been very impressed with Paine. He has got us through a really tough period in Australian cricket history.

He knows he made a huge error in the last Ashes Test when he just handed England the advantage straight away.

It was up there with all the shockers captains have had at the toss.

So I'm not saying he's the messiah. I'm not saying he's a Mark Taylor or an Allan Border, but as a leader of men, and tactically, he's better than most.

I'd like to see Paine be captain for all six Tests this summer, and hopefully he has a hundred under his belt, plus some significant contributions with the bat down the order. He would also have to tactically be a good leader.

If he does that, he's there for a while. If he fails with the bat and Australia don't play that well, I don't think he will last the whole summer.

I would like Paine to stay in the job for a long time, but he has to make some runs.

Otherwise, Carey or Philippe will walk in and Paine will walk out.

 

SHANE WARNE'S ODI XI

David Warner

Aaron Finch (C)

Shaun Marsh

Steve Smith

Glenn Maxwell

Alex Carey (wk)

Marcus Stoinis

Pat Cummins

Mitchell Starc

Cameron Boyce

Riley Meredith

 

SHANE WARNE'S T20 XI

Aaron Finch (C)

D'Arcy Short

David Warner

Glenn Maxwell

Alex Carey (wk)

Mitchell Marsh

Marcus Stoinis

Pat Cummins

Mitchell Starc

Cameron Boyce

Riley Meredith