Warner skips T20s, boosting Smith's chances to open

Australia's selectors have withdrawn David Warner from the Twenty20 series against India, paving the way for Steve Smith to trial as an opener for next year's World Cup in the format.

Warner was on Tuesday officially ruled out, given the chance to return home and rest before his final Test series against Pakistan.

The opener's withdrawal serves as another blow to what looms as one of the most overlooked Australian series in recent memory.

If ever there needed to be a reminder about cricket's cluttered calendar, this five-match series is it.

The opening game will be played in Visakhapatnam, just four days after India and Australia played in the 50-over World Cup final.

The hosts named their squad for the series on Tuesday, with Suryakumar Yadav the sole player who featured in the 50-over decider available for the first three matches.

Matches will also be played in Thiruvananthapuram, Barsapara, Nagpur and Hyderabad, with Australia having never played in the first two of those cities before.

By series end, Australia will also have played 26 matches in India in 2023, with four Tests and three ODIs earlier in the year, before another bilateral series in September and then the ODI World Cup.

Glenn Maxwell and David Warner.
Glenn Maxwell and David Warner celebrate after Australia won the ODI World Cup final against India.

Cricket is still in catching up contractually-obligated matches from COVID, with a raft of other series meaning these games did not fit earlier in the year.

The series is theoretically the beginning of preparations for next year's T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and USA.

But India's squad also only includes three players who featured in last year's 20-over event.

Australia will be without their frontline quicks and Mitch Marsh, but there is some chance to begin plans for the 2024 T20 World Cup.

Smith has spoken about his desire to open the batting, and will likely be able to now do so with Travis Head after Warner's exit.

The former captain was initially slated to open in matches against South Africa in September, but was ruled out of the series with a wrist injury.

Overlooked for large parts of Australia's T20 World Cup last year, Smith smashed two centuries at the top of the order in the Big Bash League for the Sydney Sixers last summer.

He now faces competition from the likes of Head, Marsh and Warner to be at the top of the order for next year's World Cup, after having never opened before in international cricket.

"Anyone would want to open in T20 cricket," Smith told AAP at the start of the summer.

"It was cool to be able to show what I could do in the Big Bash.

"Hopefully I can replicate that internationally as well."

Warner has been replaced in the squad by young allrounder Aaron Hardie, giving the likes of he and Tanveer Sangha the chance to impress in front of potential IPL suitors.

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