England v Australia ODIs - Men's
Bubble-wrapped Aussies could have edge: Warner
They have played no competitive cricket since March but David Warner believes that may in fact prove beneficial when Australia face England
28 July 2020, 06:16 PM AEST
So surreal is international sport in the age of COVID-19 that David Warner believes Australia's men's team might be better prepared than their hosts for the planned limited-overs tour to the UK because they haven't been playing any competitive cricket for most of the year.
The three ODIs and three T20Is between the arch-foes that were initially scheduled for this month were shelved due to the ongoing global pandemic, with hopes they might be played in the UK in September.
Warner is among the 26 players named in a preliminary Australia squad earlier this month in preparation for final confirmation of the tour.
And the 33-year-old believes that by dint of not playing any competitive cricket since last March and thereby not being subjected to the restrictive quarantine hub life England's players are currently observing in their Test series against West Indies, Australia's preparation might prove more beneficial.
"We will obviously be quite fresh and keen to get at it when we get over there," Warner said today.
"If you look at the England team, they've been in lockdown and quarantine for the last (three) weeks and then preparing for their next series (ODI campaigns against Ireland and Pakistan).
"So we're going over there fresh with an open mind and ready and keen to play cricket, and not in that bio(security) bubble yet."
The travel and quarantine restrictions currently in place around Australia means the squad is unlikely to be able to train together until they arrive in the UK for that possible limited-overs tour, and the preparation for the subsequent Australia summer won't be any less unusual.
As it stands, players in the UK touring party who also hold contracts for the Indian Premier League could head directly to the United Arab Emirates where the IPL is tipped to be played from late September until early November.
If that's the case, then players could return to Australia – where under current protocols they would be required to undertake two weeks of strict hotel lockdown – with barely enough time to complete quarantine before the proposed one-off Test against Afghanistan currently scheduled to start in Perth on November 21.
It would also mean India's men's Test squad, a bulk of whom would also likely take part in the IPL, have a similarly restricted preparation for the four-Test series against Australia that is currently set to begin at the Gabba on December 3.
If existing isolation requirements for overseas arrivals remain in place, a number of Australia's probable Test line-up won't be afforded the opportunity to hone their red-ball skills in the Marsh Sheffield Shield competition (schedule yet to be announced) as has happened in past summers.
For someone like Warner, who was engaged in limited-overs internationals in the second half of the previous Australia summer, it would ensure he enters the Test series against India without having played a first-class game in almost a year.
But as the veteran opener pointed out, India's touring Test players will be similarly starved of recent red-ball experience.
"Usually you have a couple of Shield games leading into a Test series, especially at home," Warner said.
"So I think the unique thing about it is the Indian team and ourselves are going to be in the same boat really.
"We're going to have a lack of red-ball cricket preparation and we'll have to make the most of that time training in the lead up to the Test series.
"I'm not too sure how it will all affect the summer.
"Obviously there is going to be a (Test) squad picked, and if there's no Shield cricket being played up until Christmas, it doesn't give anyone else an opportunity to be (noticed) if there's an injury - there is nobody coming up from red-ball cricket.
"So there are these situations that we're going to have to play by ear and try to get guys to be prepared in case something happens.
"It's going to be challenging.
"If someone goes down (injured), we'll have to bring a person in with a lack of red-ball preparation and that's foreign to all of us.
"It doesn't usually happen and we're just going to have to adapt to that."
For his part, Warner believes his past learnings and vast experience will enable him to smoothly transition from white-ball cricket in possibly the UK and the UAE, to Test matches in Australia with little or no match practice in between.
"I find it harder actually to transition from red-ball to white-ball because you're constantly waiting and watching and leaving balls (in first-class cricket), and then to go back in the nets and try to hit every ball for four or six," he said.
"I find that a lot more difficult to get my timing.
"If it was the other way around I'd say it was a bit more of a challenge, but that way is a bit easier because you've got more time on your hands (in red-ball matches)."
Warner also indicated that if strict quarantine hubs remain a fixture on the global cricket calendar for years to come, it could have an impact on how much longer he plays at elite level.
The former Test vice-captain previously flagged the prospect of playing the T20 World Cups in Australia (initially scheduled for this year) and India (in 2021) before possibly quitting 20-over internationals and focusing on the next ICC 50-over World Cup (also in India) in 2023.
But the ICC's announcement this month that the T20 World Cup planned for Australia this October and November was postponed, with the tournaments to be staged in India and Australia in 2021 and 2022 (with host nations not yet allocated), means the goalposts have shifted.
Warner said today that whatever decision he makes about the length of his international playing career, it is considerations about the time he spends with his family (wife Candice and the couple's three daughters) that will figure uppermost in his planning.
And the possibility of spending long stretches separated from his family might convince him to revisit his earlier thinking, should the current COVID-19 restrictions remain in place indefinitely.
"Obviously the T20 (World Cup) is not here at home, which would have been ideal to play that and win that here," Warner said today.
"Now that gets pushed back, I will have to have a rethink about that when it comes to India (for future limited-overs tournaments).
"I’ll see where I am and where the girls are at with school as well.
"It’s not just when the games are being played and how much cricket’s being played, it's a big family decision for myself.
"There are times when you go away and miss your family a lot and at the moment, with all these biosecurity measures that are in place, we’re going to not be able to have the luxury of our families coming away with us now and it could be for the foreseeable future.
"They are things that we need to play by ear and if and when I do make that decision, it’ll be predominantly a family decision."