Khawaja certain Warner can bounce back, Renegades beat Heat, England star’s career-threatening injury

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David Warner’s long-time batting partner Usman Khawaja has backed the out-of-sorts opener to continue playing Tests for Australia for as long as he wants.

The 36-year-old enters the three-match series against South Africa with significant questions surrounding his red-ball future.

The dashing left-hander has indicated he wants to play until at least the end of next year’s Ashes, with India and England – both away – looming in the next nine months.

Warner has not made a Test century since January 2020 and failed to pass 50 against the battling West Indies in Perth and Adelaide.

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Despite the pressure building, Khawaja has declared Warner an irreplaceable force for Australia at the top of the order.

David Warner of Australia reacts to being bowled.

David Warner of Australia reacts to being bowled by Jayden Seales of the West Indies. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

“(I) always feel like Davey is close to making runs, felt like he was going to get a big one last couple of games but he got a couple of 20s,” Khawaja said.

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“I look at it from a wider perspective, think I said it after the game, it was more about that I’ve played domestic cricket the last few years, I’ve seen what’s around, we’ve got some really good cricketers coming up but we don’t have any Dave Warners. 

“The batting line-up we have right now, the top six, are the best players in the country. 

“If you had the choice of picking David Warner or someone else, I’m picking David Warner every day of the week. 

“Think the opposition players know that, too, because they know how quickly he can turn the game.”

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Warner and Khawaja batted together in junior ranks, then for NSW, and have reunited for Australia after the latter forced his way back into the Test team in January after more than two years.

Australia coach Andrew McDonald backed Warner in when asked about him this week but was cautious not to declare the veteran completely safe. “At this stage, we’ve got him in our plans for India,” McDonald said.

“We’ll see what happens in the next three Test matches, but at this stage he’s firmly in our thoughts for India.”

Maddinson leads Renegades past Heat

Melbourne Renegades skipper Nic Maddinson has plundered a scintillating 87 runs against Brisbane Heat to set up a 22-run victory in his 100th BBL game.

Maddinson got out of the blocks quickly, kept his cool when four wickets fell in a clump, and put his foot down again late to lift the Renegades to 7-166 batting first in Cairns after being sent in.

In reply the Heat were restricted to 6-144.

West Indies T20 international Akeal Hossein (3-15 off four overs) opened the bowling for the Renegades with his left-arm orthodox spinners and dismissed opener Max Bryant for a duck with his fifth delivery. The momentum stayed with the Renegades from then on.

Hossein was playing his first game in the BBL and was the dominant bowler on the night to give the Renegades a great start to the new season after finishing bottom of the ladder last season.

Heat recruit Colin Munro (35 off 30 balls), with 65 T20 internationals to his credit for New Zealand, was finding top form with the bat before he was run out by a direct hit from Tom Rogers.

When Brisbane skipper Jimmy Peirson was bowled by Hossein for 43 off 30 deliveries in the 15th over the required rate was nearing the unachievable.

The 30-year-old Maddinson earlier set the platform for victory. He took 20 off Xavier Bartlett’s second over and a further 22 off his third in a 49-ball innings, including 10 fours and three sixes, that produced his highest score in T20 cricket.

“It is really nice to get off to a (good) start after the last couple of years have been tough for Renegades fans,” Maddinson told Fox Cricket.

“We lost a couple of wickets through the middle but we wanted to play an entertaining brand of cricket.

“We drafted (spinner) Akeal this year knowing the potency he could provide in the powerplay. He did a great job.”

West Indies international Andre Russell (35 off 28 balls) celebrated his return to the Renegades with a powerhouse innings including three sixes.

The visitors rocketed to 0-65 off six overs before Sam Harper (21) was well caught at fine leg by Josh Brown off the first delivery bowled by the impressive James Bazley (2-19 off four).

The Renegades lost 4-22 in six overs due to some shrewd captaincy by Jimmy Peirson and smart bowling by spinners Mitch Swepson (1-30) and Matt Kuhnemann (3-32).

Swepson knocked over Jake Fraser-McGurk (three) with a classic googly. Then Kuhnemann took two wickets in one over by slowing down his pace and bamboozling Aaron Finch (four) and off-season recruit Jono Wells (one).

That was when Maddinson and Russell took control in a 78-run stand off 46 deliveries.

Maddinson, when on 42, was involved in a bizarre incident when he played a pull-shot off Mark Steketee. The ball lobbed over the stumps but one bail came off. On review it was clear that the dislodged bail was an unexplainable mystery but no fault of the batter.

Robinson back after career in balance

England fast bowler Ollie Robinson has revealed how a series of injuries had left him fearing for his cricket career as he described the last 12 months as his toughest as a professional.

The 29-year-old Sussex player lost his place in the England team after disappointing tours of Australia and West Indies due to a recurring back problem before being recalled for matches against South Africa in August.

“I kept coming back to full fitness, then getting an injury or illness, then another injury,” Robinson told the BBC.

“There were points when I didn’t think I was going to play for England again, or play cricket again.

“I thought, ‘I might have to look at what else I can do… I don’t think I’m going to be able to carry on playing cricket’. It’s probably the toughest 12 months I’ve had as a professional cricketer.”

Robinson has been impressive during England’s current series in Pakistan with eight wickets in two matches and could add to that tally in the third and final Test starting on Saturday as the tourists look to complete a 3-0 sweep.

“It’s a really proud tour for me, in the fact my body has got through it, I’ve bowled well and proved to the world I can do it in any conditions,” Robinson said.

“It’s been tough and there have been some dark days, but series wins like this make it all worthwhile.

“It’s an exciting time for English cricket. We’ve done 2-0 and if we can do 3-0 it’ll be an amazing effort. The boys are prepared for one, last big push.”

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