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Cricket Writers on TV: David Warner gamble worth it for Australia

Australia's selection issues

Malcolm Conn believes David Warner is a "risk worth taking" for Australia in the opening Ashes Test.

The 26-year-old batsman looks set to play at number six against England at Trent Bridge this week, even though he hasn't played competitive cricket since his bust-up with Joe Root in a Birmingham bar last month.

Warner was suspended after throwing a late-night punch at the England player and it was widely thought he would miss the first Test after missing all of Australia's warm-up matches.

However, Michael Clarke has hinted he will feature in Nottingham and Australian cricket journalist Conn says his explosive talent is just what the team needs.

"He's got an outstanding Test record," he explained on Cricket Writers On TV.

"In the last 12 months he's averaged 46 and he averages in the low 40's. For a bloke that plays the way he plays he's already got three Test centuries.

"If Australia are going to win this series they've got to take England on. They can't play safety first.

"I suppose you could say if you're playing Ed Cowan at three it's safety first, but the wild card is Warner at six if you get him in, particularly if Michael Clarke can take the game away from England.

"If Warner can get in and take Graeme Swann down or take one of the quicks down and all of a sudden is on 80 at a run-a-ball then you're right in the game and the momentum swings.

"It's a risk worth taking."

Embarrassing

However, Conn admits the handling of Warner by the Australian authorities in the last few weeks has been far from ideal.

Have Australia gone soft?

And he says the issue has been particularly troubling in the wake of the suspension of four Australian players in March for failing to complete a homework assignment.

"The whole thing is profoundly embarrassing," Conn added.

"You've got four blokes in India four months ago missing a Test match because they didn't do their homework and David Warner takes a swing in a bar and grazes an opposition player at 2.30 in the morning and doesn't miss a Test match?

"The people back in head office from Cricket Australia are very unhappy that Warner looks like playing. They claim they went through an independent process and some sort of legal eagle decided that this is what the punishment was going to be, but it sends a terrible message.

"Half a dozen blokes went out and there was other staff, including Cricket Australia staff and ICC staff there and everybody was saying it was minor.

"So he throws a punch at an opposition player and grazes him at 2.30 in the morning. Does he have to break his jaw or lay him out in a pool of blood to become major?

"I'd have thought the intent of wanting to belt an opposition player was enough to get him sent home?"

Desparation

Paul Newman of the Daily Mail agrees the punishment was wrong and feels Warner's potential inclusion highlights the weaknesses in the Australian squad.

"I thought initially the punishment was half-hearted," he said.

"It was either do you send him home or do you give him a slap on the wrist? But in the end they chose this middle ground whereby he doesn't get any practice with red ball cricket in the build-up to the Test match.

"Now it seems after the way Michael Clarke was talking the other day that he's going to bat at six and it's a huge gamble. But it's either that or Khawaja or Smith, so he's the better option.

"If Warner can get in and take Graeme Swann down or take one of the quicks down and all of a sudden is on 80 at a run-a-ball then you're right in the game and the momentum swings."

Malcolm Conn

"I just felt they got that punishment wrong. It was neither one thing nor the other and it leaves them in this situation now where they are going to throw him into this game, it seems.

"We all thought after the punishment there was no way he could play in the first Test, but clearly Lehmann has come in and wants him in the team.

"I do think it's got a hint of desperation about it."

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