Aussie plan to recharge exhausted, under-fire Warner
DAVID Warner is on a rare run of outs, sounding alarm bells ahead of next month's crucial Test tour of South Africa: but Australia has a plan to get the explosive opening batsman back on song.
Despite leading Australia to the Twenty20 Tri-Series final with inspired leadership and some moments of brilliance in the field, Warner looks fatigued and is struggling to get runs on the board.
The mood from inside the camp is that there's little to worry about, with fast bowler Kane Richardson declaring "you wouldn't know he's in a form slump, because his captaincy has been amazing" after Australia seven-wicket victory over England on Saturday booked them a spot in the Tri-Series final.
However coach Darren Lehmann, who also has next month's Proteas assignment at the forefront of his mind, has expressed slightly more concern about his key opener.
Lehmann says he's not terribly worried about Warner's form slump, which has returned three single-figure scores in the T20 format after a one-day series in which he failed to notch a half-century.
But he did admit that rest was on the immediate agenda for the 31-year-old, who will attend Monday's Allan Border Medal awards night in Melbourne before being given a break to freshen up mentally before Australia's next T20 in New Zealand on Friday.
While the remainder of the Australian squad will fly to Auckland on Tuesday, Warner will return to Sydney where he will be given a short break with his family.
"It will just give him a couple of days at home really," Lehmann said on Monday.
"It's always a challenge when you've got the schedule as it is, but David is really keen to play as captain.
"So we'll give him a couple of days off and get him to New Zealand the day before the game and he can play."
The time off is essential, according to former Test quick Geoff Lawson who believes Warner would be better served "lying on a beach" than leading the T20 side this month.
"I think he just needs a bit of a rest," Lawson told the Big Sports Breakfast.
"Steve Smith's been rested of course and that's vital after he had a poor one-day series against England - and a lot of that is mental fatigue. It's not physical.
"And Dave Warner's ploughed on into the 20-over series. (But) I reckon he needs a rest more than another game.
"Even in 20-over cricket you're going to fail quite often and it's just not necessary that he plays.
"I reckon he should be lying on Coogee Beach rather than playing cricket at the moment."
"You've got your leaders in Steven and David and you need one of them to captain," Lehmann said.
"That's the reason behind it from the selection panel, making sure we've got constant messaging through our leaders and David's been great this series. Steven's had his break and David will get a mini break and Steven's got to do the tour game while we play in the final."
The South Africa tour is the most important of the year for Australia, as they take the next step in the plan to reclaim the world No.1 ranking by the end of the year.
Having Warner fit and firing will be an important factor, to ease the burden on the world's No.1 Test batsman Steve Smith.
Warner finished as Australia's third-highest runscorer in the Ashes, but his only century coming in the dead-rubber Boxing Day Test on a wicket that was rated poor by the ICC for not offering enough to the bowlers.
However at his best there's no doubt he is a matchwinner whose influence could be enormous in what is expected to be a bowler-dominated series in South Africa, on tricky wickets tipped to favour seam bowling.
"He'd obviously like some more runs but he's been fantastic in the leadership role with the young guys," Lehmann said.
"He's been training hard ... there's no dramas at the moment.
"He's got a couple of good balls and played a couple of shots where they went straight to the fielder.
"He can only do so much work ... he's been working so hard that it's almost like (it would help) to just give him a couple of days away from the game.
"Ricky Ponting has been doing some really good work with him, so we'd expect him to come out of that rut pretty quickly."