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No rush in Australia’s succession planning

Australia coach Andrew McDonald insists there’s no need to rush succession planning at the top of the order, keeping his faith in Australia’s senior members.

Six members of Australia’s regular Test XI are all over the age of 30, meaning a transition period looms in coming years.

Australia has not had to deal with retirements for some time, with the most recent player to exit the game while still in the Test side being Mitchell Johnson in 2015.

David Warner and Usman Khawaja are the eldest in Australia’s squad from the 1-1 draw in Sri Lanka, with both set to turn 36 by the end of this year.

Khawaja remains in the form of his life, having scored 888 runs at an average of 98.66 since his return to the Test team in January.

But Warner has endured a tougher run.

He has been the first man out in each innings since Khawaja’s return, while averaging 31.62 since the start of the Ashes.

McDonald though is adamant there is still plenty of runs in the left-hander, who has still passed 50 four times in the past 12 months while not breaking a century drought spanning 21 innings.

“Everyone talks about the wrong side of 35. Is there such a thing as the right side of 35?” McDonald said.

“We’ve seen players perform on the other side of 35 as well. So we don’t look at the right or wrong side of 35.

“We look at the performances they’re putting out. And we still think they have a lot of time left in them with the challenges that we’ve got in front of us.”

McDonald did however admit Australia would be careful in ensuring both Warner and Khawaja did not go at the same time as part of the transition process.

Matt Renshaw and Henry Hunt were both brought on the Australia A tour of Sri Lanka at age 26 and 25, with Marcus Harris also playing.

Will Pucovski is still only 24 and hopeful of putting concussion issues to the side to add to his sole Test, while fellow 24-year-old Queenslander Bryce Street is another opener with potential.

And with pathways programs back in place after COVID-19, McDonald said there was no need to try and blood them yet at a higher level.

“Will we have to be careful in terms of when (Warner and Khawaja) do go that they (don’t) go together? One hundred per cent.

“That’s what the ‘A’ program is about. We’ve exposed some players to different conditions here.

“We got a New Zealand tour. We’ve got some home content for the Australia A’s as well.

“That’s where they’ll get their grounding and it’s great to see that program back up and running.”

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