‘He loves the big stage’: David Warner ‘under zero pressure’ at T20 World Cup

Usman Khawaja has declared David Warner is under “zero pressure” ahead of the T20 World Cup weeks after the Aussie opener was dropped by Dehli Capitals coach Ricky Ponting following a poor run of scores in the Indian Premier League.

Warner, who recently announced his retirement from Test and ODI formats, was replaced by fellow Aussie batter Jake Fraser-McGurk at the Capitals after averaging 21 for the 2024 season, way down on his career IPL average of 40.

As a result many were hoping to see 22-year-old Fraser-McGurk, who this year had the highest strike rate in the IPL of 236, force his way into Australia’s XI for this year’s T20 World Cup.

The Victorian was instead named as a travelling reserve, meaning he will only be able to play if another member of the squad is forced to withdraw from the tournament.

While many see the young gun’s form as inevitably piling pressure on the 37-year-old veteran, Khawaja insisted that couldn’t be farther from the truth as the Australian team prepared to get their campaign under way for the tournament, which takes place in the Caribbean and United States.

“I don’t think he’s under any pressure. I think he’s under zero pressure because he’s at the back end of his career,” Khawaja told news.com.au.

“He could play how he wants, do what he wants when he wants. I think he’s in a really good space so I think he’ll be fine.”

This week Warner scored 54 not out in Australia’s warm-up game in over Namibia, and was out for 15 in the 35-run loss to the West Indies.

Khawaja expects Warner to fire once again on the big stage this June as he enters the final stages of his impressive career.

“You feel like this will probably be Davey’s last T20 World Cup,” Khawaja said.

“And I’d love nothing more than to see him go out on an absolute high and score lots of runs.

“Yeah, he’s done in the past before so it wouldn’t surprise me if he does it again this tournament.

“But I’m an Aussie, I’m an unashamedly Aussie supporter so I just want Aussies to win, I don’t really care how. But I think he’s proven over a long period of time that he performs in these tournaments and I expect him to perform again.”

Aussie off-spinner Ashton Agar said it was only natural for Warner to go through some rough patches in scoring but backed him to find form in the World Cup.

“For someone who plays so much cricket you’re gonna have lean patches here and there,” Agar said.

“We all expect David to make runs every innings because that’s the type of player that he is, he’s been so good for so long.

“But all I know is he loves playing World Cups, he loves the big stage. If that’s anything to go off I predict he’ll have a really good World Cup again.”

It appears Warner isn’t worried about the rapid rise of Fraser-McGurk either, with the young batter recently telling the Willow Talk podcast Warner had taken him under his wing and showed him the ropes in India, where the veteran is a bona fide celebrity.

“I can’t complain about anything (Warner’s) done, he’s helped me so much already,” Fraser-McGurk said.

Meanwhile Khawaja, who at 37 is the same age as his childhood friend Warner, insisted age was no barrier when it comes to a batter dominating in international cricket as he spoke about his own experience coming back from being dropped from Australia’s Test team in 2019 to being named the ICC Men’s Test Cricketer of the Year for 2023.

“I do know from experience that the older I’ve got, the more I’ve understood the game, it’s just about whether you can stay on the park when you’re older,” Khawaja, Prime Video’s T20 World Cup Ambassador, said.

“Can you can you keep going day in and day out playing the game at the highest level? Mentally can you stay switched on at the highest level? And if you can do that you can kind of reap the rewards in the back end of your career too.

“So I think you’ll find a lot of players score a lot of runs in the back end of their careers but there’s also those players who don’t that sort of stopped scoring runs in the back end.

“So I don’t really know, I’m blessed. I’m very grateful that I can go out there and play cricket because I thought my career for Australia was over about three, four years ago. So it’s all a bonus for me now.”

Warner will first get the chance to find his form again when Australia get their T20 World Cup campaign underway at the Kensington Oval in Barbados against Oman on June 6 (AEST).

Australia’s final T20 World Cup squad

Mitch Marsh (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa. Travelling reserves: Jake Fraser-McGurk, Matt Short

This writer travelled to Trinidad for the Word Cup as a guest of Prime Video, the official broadcaster of the T20 World Cup.

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