In the Bull pen: Warner raring for another World Cup

With a strike-rate of 124 over his past eight ODIs, veteran opener shapes as Australia's barometer

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The best players rise to the top in the biggest moments, so it's no surprise David Warner has hit his straps in the weeks leading up to this year's World Cup.

Player of the tournament in Australia's last World Cup triumph at the T20 event in 2021, Warner has flagged the next nine months as his swansong in international cricket.

In that time, he'll have a chance to add another ODI and T20 World Cup to his impressive career record and how he fares in both of those tournaments looms as a barometer for Australia.

The nation's last two successful World Cup campaigns – the 2021 T20 World Cup and the 2015 50-over World Cup – saw Warner average almost 50. 

While debate raged about his spot in the Test side leading into the Ashes, there have been no such concerns around his white-ball credentials as he eyes the 2024 T20 World Cup in the United States and Caribbean as the perfect end to his time in green and gold.

The 36-year-old will enter the last of his three ODI World Cups in India next month striking at his quickest rate since the tournament's previous edition four years ago.

Consider that while the 2019 ODI World Cup – where Australia lost to hosts England in the semi-finals – was his most productive (647 runs at 71.88), it was also the slowest (strike-rate of 89.36) of his eight World Cup tournaments.

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Following that, prior to the tour of South Africa, the left-hander's 1040 runs since the 2019 event in England had come at 93.3 runs per 100 balls.

But in the eight matches since he's lifted that strike-rate to 124.

He scored a superb hundred alongside recalled World Cup squad member Marnus Labuschagne in the second ODI, and three consecutive fifties in three games against India. The only blemish was not converting at least one of those into a century.

"Not just in the Australian team, but around the world, these are the tournaments that the best players build themselves up for and get excited about," men's selection chair George Bailey said from Thiruvananthapuram where Australia are scheduled to play the Netherlands in a warm-up match tonight from 6.30pm AEST. 

"That's the ultimate challenge for them to not only prove how good they are individually but also to help their team get some really exciting success.

"So (I'm) not surprised that he's hit the ground running over here with the enthusiasm that you'd expect from 'Davey' and playing really well."

Since Aaron Finch retired last year, Warner has also formed productive new partnerships with those he is set to open the batting with this tournament, averaging 38.67 for the first wicket with Mitch Marsh and 90.90 with Travis Head.

"Since Finchy's retired he's had some games opening there with Head, he's had some games opening with Mitch Marsh and both of those relationships are going really well," Bailey said.

"All three of those guys bat really well together and there's a pretty exciting energy and way they're going about it. 

"No doubt 'Bull' (Warner) has been a really important part of that from the way he's batting but he's also enjoying the energy that those two guys are bringing to the crease with him as well."

Marsh – who averages 73 at the top of the order from six innings across his ODI career – is set to open with Warner for at least the first half of the World Cup as Head recovers from a fractured hand.

Australia opted to retain Head in their 15-player squad and carry him through the opening games of the tournament despite the South Australian being unavailable with a broken hand.

Marsh told the Unplayable Podcast shortly after the Australians arrived in India last week that opening was "certainly an enjoyable role".

"I love batting with Davey and I love batting with Travis Head," Marsh said.

"Wherever I bat I'm happy, so if that's at the top for the foreseeable future with 'Heady' being out through injury, then I'll certainly jump at the opportunity.

"Heady's such an important player for our team, not only for what he brings on the field but just his character off the field. 

"He's by far my favourite cricketer in world cricket and I tell him that all the time, I just love watching him play."

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Bailey added: "Trav is a really important player for us, he's certainly a player who's in our first choice XI.

"Hopefully when he does come online, he can have a really important impact towards the back end of the tournament."

Wet weather is forecast in Thiruvananthapuram for Saturday’s clash between the Dutch and the Aussies. Friday's South Africa-Afghanistan warm-up fixture in the same coastal city was abandoned without a ball bowled.

Australia then travel to Hyderabad for another warm-up fixture against Pakistan on Tuesday before opening their World Cup campaign with a blockbuster clash against hosts India in Chennai.

Australia's 2023 ODI World Cup fixtures

Warm-up match: September 30: v Netherlands, Thiruvananthapuram (D/N), 6.30pm AEST

Warm-up match: October 3: v Pakistan, Hyderabad (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

October 8: v India, Chennai (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

October 12: v South Africa, Lucknow (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

October 16: v Sri Lanka, Lucknow (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

October 20: v Pakistan, Bengaluru (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

October 25: v Netherlands, Delhi (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

October 28: v New Zealand, Dharamsala, 4pm AEDT

November 4: v England, Ahmedabad (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

November 7: v Afghanistan, Mumbai (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

November 11: v Bangladesh, Pune, 4pm AEDT

November 15: First semi-final, Mumbai (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

November 16: Second semi-final, Kolkata (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

November 19: Final, Ahmedabad (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa