The main contenders (and a dark horse) for David Warner’s soon-to-be-vacant Test opening spot


While David Warner continues to dominate at the top of the order for Australia in the white ball formats, his performances in the test arena over the past few years have been rather underwhelming.

Warner has publicly stated that he wants his test swansong to be against Pakistan in the New Year’s Test Match at the SCG. In my opinion, regardless of his performances in the test matches against Pakistan prior to the SCG, Warner deserves to conclude his test career on his own terms in front of friends and family given his monumental contribution to Australian cricket over the best part of 13 years.

Once the polarising opener does depart the Test arena, he will leave a massive hole at the top of the Australian order. Let’s take a look at the potential replacements from the around the country, with all factors (e.g. Australia’s test cricket schedule in the next 12-24 months) taken into the consideration.

Matt Renshaw

One of the players towards the front of the queue to replace David Warner is Matthew Renshaw. Despite plying his trade in the middle order for the Queensland Bulls’ Sheffield Shield team, Renshaw has proven he can more than hold his own opening the batting in Test cricket.

Queensland opener Matthew Renshaw. (Photo by Steve Bell/Getty Images)

Bursting onto the international cricket scene as a freshly-faced 20-year-old in 2016, Renshaw made a gritty 71 against Pakistan on Test debut before compiling 184 in just his fourth test match later that series. After starring in his first home series, the Queenslander struggled in his first tour of the subcontinent in 2017 – passing 20 just three time across twelve innings in India and Bangladesh.

Renshaw has been around the Australian test squad over the past 12 months or so, including a return to the test side during the 2023 tour of India (albeit in the middle order) and earning selection in the 2023 Ashes squad.

Once regarded as a traditional, one-paced test batsmen, Renshaw has recently added more dimensions to his game and would be more than capable of taking up Warner’s role as the aggressor at the top of the order. Given he is still only 27 years old, Renshaw would a viable long-term opening option for Australia.

Cameron Bancroft

Bancroft will always be (somewhat unfairly) known for his role in the infamous sandpaper incident against South Africa in 2018. Prior to that incident, which earned the Western Australian a nine month ban and brought his short test career to an abrupt halt, Bancroft did show glimpses of his potential at test level during the 2017/2018 Ashes Series, scoring an unbeaten 84 at the Gabba to help guide Australia to a 10-wicket victory.

He was also Australia’s leading run scorer in that 2018 series in South Africa, scoring two half-centuries against a bowling attack featuring Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and the series’ leading wicket taker, Kagiso Rabada.

Cameron Bancroft bats for Australia A. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Unlike fellow suspended duo David Warner and Steve Smith, Bancroft’s return to the Test arena after the ball tampering suspension was short lived, playing only the first two test matches of the 2019 Ashes Series in England before making way for Marcus Harris. Despite being a prolific and consistent run scorer in the Sheffield Shield, the Western Australian hasn’t been sighted in the test arena since.

After years of refining his technique and churning out runs for Western Australia, Bancroft’s sustained form warrants his name to be at the forefront of selectors’ conversations.

Marcus Harris

Victorian opener Harris is the final member of the apparent three-horse race with Renshaw and Bancroft for the imminent test vacancy. Harris has been the reserve batsmen in a lot of Australia’s test squads over the past few years, having found himself stuck behind Warner and Usman Khawaja for the opening role.

The flow-on effect of this is that Harris has lacked continuity in his Cricket, resulting in inconsistent performances for Victoria at Shield level over the past couple of years.

The major criticism of Harris at Test level (and he definitely isn’t the first to be criticised for this) has been his inability to convert good starts into big centuries – averaging 25 across 14 test matches with just three half centuries. However, unlike his two ‘rivals’ above, Harris currently holds a central Cricket Australia contract.

Could South Australia’s Henry Hunt be the one to replace David Warner at the top of the Test order? (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

Smokey: Henry Hunt

If the Australian selectors have all eyes cast towards the future, then young South Australian opener Henry Hunt is a massive chance. Having recently been touted as a future test prospect, the current Redbacks captain has been a consistent and reliable performer at the top of the order in Sheffield Shield, averaging 45 in both the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.

More recently, he made an impressive 162 against Queensland in bowler-friendly conditions at the Gabba, sending a timely reminder to national selectors that he is capable of earning higher honours sooner rather than later.

Hunt has already been exposed to Australia’s national red ball set up, earning selection in the Australia A side that took on England’s ‘A’ side in an ‘unofficial’ Test match prior to the 2021/22 Ashes Series. Some of his teammates in this match included Test stars Usman Khawaja and Scott Boland – giving Hunt invaluable experience playing alongside some of the best red ball players in the country.

The opener made ‘starts’ (40 & 33) in both innings against England’s new-ball attack which featured test-experienced players Matt Fisher and Saqib Mahmood. It would not be surprising if Hunt is selected in the extended squad for Australia’s upcoming Test tour of New Zealand – more so to give him the experience of being around the test setup for an extended period of time than anything else.

It is worth noting that Bancroft, Renshaw and Harris have all been selected in the Prime Minister’s XI side to take on Pakistan prior to the upcoming Test series, which gives a fair indication that selectors will opt to select one of those three as Warner’s eventual replacement.

Who do you think should replace David Warner in Australia’s test side? Put the selectors hat on and provide your opinion below.

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