Australia may have one hand on the Ashes urn going into Sunday night’s (AEST) final day’s play at Old Trafford, but the fifth Test at The Oval may see another new look opening line-up
England will resume on 2-18, still 365 runs behind the tourists, despite Australia’s David Warner and Marcus Harris again failing to make an impact.
Warner’s struggles against England quick Stuart Broad are so great that he could well be dropped for the fifth Test starting at The Oval on Thursday.
Steve Smith says Warner has acknowledged Broad had got into his head after being dismissed six times by the English veteran in eight innings. “We’ve talked, a few different things here and there,” Smith said.
“It’s just trying to form a plan to get through Broad,” Smith said.
“He’s admitted himself Broad’s had the wood on him throughout this series and he’s been talking to myself and Justin (Langer) and (batting coach) Graeme Hick.
I think about ways he can play. He’s tried a couple different ways and they haven’t quite worked.
“But Davey’s a quality player and he hasn’t had a great deal of luck this series, hopefully he can turn it around and get a big one for us at the Oval.”
Warner registered his third successive duck on Saturday at Old Trafford when Broad trapped him lbw in Australia’s second innings.
Warner’s second-ball departure to a fired-up Broad continued his wretched series that’s seen him now chalk up seven single digit scores.
Harris scored 13 and six at Old Trafford having registered eight and 19 at Headingley after replacing the equally out-of-form Cameron Bancroft, who averaged 11 from the opening two Tests.
Warner has never been left out of the side for form reasons since his debut in 2011 but is currently suffering the worst run with the bat in his 71-match Test career.
The 32-year-old’s woes against Broad mirror the struggles Moeen Ali endured against Nathan Lyon during the 2017/18 Ashes series.
Lyon became the first bowler to remove the same batsman seven times in nine innings in a series, a feat Broad will emulate if he dismisses Warner when Australia bat first at The Oval.
Australia’s opening partnerships in eight innings of the series have produced just 62 runs – usurping the previous lowest of 66 registered in 1909.
Smith said he sympathised with the struggles of the openers despite him needing to constantly bail his team out of trouble when he comes into bat at No.4.
“It’s been tough with the new ball for both sides,” Smith said.
The ball’s probably done its most when it’s new. When it gets a little bit softer it doesn’t do quite as much, it gets a little bit easier.
“They’ve bowled pretty well with the new ball. They’re particularly good bowlers to left-handed batters, both Broad and (Jofra) Archer.
“It’s not been easy for Davey and Marcus but they’re trying their hardest.”