Australia head coach Andrew McDonald has backed openers David Warner and Usman Khawaja to rebound in the Ashes after the pair managed only four runs in partnership during the World Test Championship final win over India.
Khawaja had a forgettable Test at The Oval, dismissed for a duck and 13, while Warner was caught behind for one after his promising first innings of 43.
Australia struggled to score runs at the top of the order during the 2019 Ashes series, with Warner dismissed by Stuart Broad seven times and finishing with an average 9.50.
“I thought Davey moved well in the first innings (against India),” McDonald told Australian media. “He got strangled down the leg side. You look at that, and you say ‘a little bit of luck there and potentially that’s a bigger score’.
“But the way he moved, the way he played is exactly what we want.” Khawaja was dropped after three Tests in the 2019 Ashes but the stylish lefthander has piled on the runs since his recall to the squad for the Sydney Test against England in January 2022. “Uzzie’s last two years speak for themselves. There’s going to be failure points for any batters and he’s had one,” said McDonald.
“But it doesn’t mean he’s any less prepared.”
England all-rounder Moeen Ali, who retired from Test cricket in September 2021, was added to the Ashes squad for the first two Tests after spinner Jack Leach was ruled out of the series.
McDonald said it would be a “challenge” for England to adjust their attack to fit Moeen. “Mo hasn’t played a red-ball game for an extended period of time. No doubt he’ll be prepared - he’s had a couple of weeks’ notice,” said McDonald.
“But I think Jack Leach really complemented that attack and his wicket-taking ability and the way Ben Stokes has used him has been a little more aggressive and has reaped some great rewards.”