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Warner plays straight bat to T20 coach talk

Australia’s stand-in skipper responds to reports Australia could have two separate national head coaches

The place of Twenty20 cricket in the already crammed international schedule has again come to the fore during Australia's three-match series against India, which has been tacked on to the end of a seven-week Test and ODI tour of the subcontinent.

A meeting of key cricket executives this week is reportedly set to expedite plans for official Test and ODI Championships that are hoped will give greater context to the five- and one-day games, but the future of the shortest format at international level remains clouded.

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A News Corp report on Monday claimed Australia were considering appointing a standalone T20 coach to lighten the workload of head coach Darren Lehmann and help arrest their poor record in 20-over cricket, which includes the absence of a World T20 title, the only major piece of silverware Australia is yet to win.

Justin Langer and David Saker – who have filled in for Lehmann as head coach this year – would be near the front of the queue for such an appointment, as would the likes of Ricky Ponting and Jason Gillespie, who were assistants to Langer when the T20 series against Sri Lanka earlier this year clashed with the Test tour of India.

Opener David Warner, who is filling in as captain for the current T20s after Steve Smith returned home due to a sore shoulder, played a straight bat when asked about the potential of two separate national head coaches.


"That's the first I've heard of it," he said in Guwahati on Monday. 

"That's obviously the responsibility of the (Cricket Australia) board.

"From a playing point of view, we've got to concentrate on playing cricket. I'm not going to sit here and say we should or we shouldn't.

"We've got to play the best cricket we can and whoever is put in charge, we've got to abide by that."

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While the 20-over game has been incredibly popular in domestic franchise competitions, it's failed to attract the television ratings in Australia of the longer international formats.

And with the first Magellan Ashes Test less than 50 days away, the short-term priorities of most Australian cricket fans lie beyond a three-match T20 series being staged two-and-a-half years out from the next Twenty20 World Cup, which will be held in Australia in 2020.

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Already without star pacemen Pat Cummins (rested) and Mitchell Starc (who is using the JLT One-Day Cup at home to ease back into cricket following injury), the Australians this week lost Smith for the series due to a sore shoulder, a non-serious injury that he's decided to rest ahead England's arrival later this month.

Lehmann is also not in the subcontinent having handed the reigns to bowling coach Saker ahead of the busy home summer, as he did to Langer for an ODI Tour of the Caribbean last year.

Previous schedule clashes that has led to separate Australian teams playing in the same week in different countries and even different continents has underlined just how crammed the international schedule is.

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CA's head of team performance Pat Howard has urged fans and players to embrace the fact that there will be, at times, two different Australian teams playing a different format in different locations at the same time.

Warner said the lack of clear air between series and tours made it difficult for all national teams. 

"It's a very tough schedule, as it is for every single country," he said. "You've basically got to pick and choose when to rest your big players.

"When you're playing a long series and there's a Test matches coming up, or you're playing a Test match like we did (in India last February) and they put a Twenty20 on (at the same time in Australia), it's quite hard as a player to understand why.

"These things are put in place years in advance. That's why I play the game and I'm not trying to administer things."

At least for now, Warner says his focus is on the final two games of this series, with the Australians looking to end a seven-match winless run in T20s against India, starting in Guwahati early on Wednesday morning (AEST) before the final match of the tour in Hyderabad later this week.


Australia's Qantas Tour of India

Australia squad: David Warner (c), Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.

India squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Axar Patel.


T20 Fixtures


October 7: JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi

October 10: Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati

October 13: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad