OK, sending Warner home might have weakened The Ashes campaign, but it might also deliver a bit of certainty about the batting order by removing one piece from the jigsaw puzzle. There’s still a choice between Cowan, Hughes, Rogers and Watson for the opening slots, and with Clarke and Khawaja in the middle order you can juggle those four at One, Two, Three and Five/Six.
That would mean the batting order’s sorted, so all they need to do is perform. We’ve got Smith, Doolan and the highly rated Jordan Silk on the Australia A tour, at the moment, so if you need to draft another bat in take a choice between the first two (Smith’s on a ton not out against Ireland as I type), and have Silk join the touring party as a specialist substitute fielder.
In that setting there’d have been a chance for someone to cement a spot while Warner cools his heels at home and has to consider the prospect of being made to force his way back into the side rather than anticipate an automatic recall when he’s done his penance.
I can’t think of a clearer way of sending a message to the rest of the touring party. Don’t stuff up, because if you do...
Winning the two Ashes series would do a fair bit towards tackling Point Two above (Australian cricket team’s job is to ensure that the Australian team sits as close as possible to #1 in each of the three forms of the game) but that won’t become a reality unless we can perform consistently at home and win against India and South Africa on their home turf as well, and if we’re going to do that the team culture in a touring party is going to be a key ingredient in any success.
If you’re an England, South African or Indian supporter, of course, that job description (as close as possible to #1 in each of the three forms of the game) will also apply to your side, and it would also apply to Pakistan if it wasn’t for the security issues that deny them the chance to win at home.
New Zealand, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and Bangla Desh might take umbrage at being relegated to sort of also ran status, but I’d suggest there are financial considerations that’re going to militate against those sides forcing their way to the Top Four in the Test rankings, but World Cups in the ODI and T20 formats provide chances to hit the heights and there’s the potential to exert a bit of influence on the Test rankings as well.
Financial considerations go close to ensuring that India, Australia, England and South Africa are going to fill the top places in the Test rankings because the other countries, who are effectively eking out a hand to mouth existence, can’t afford to employ the support staff that richer sides can enjoy as a matter of course.
Which, of course, brings us back to the Homework Affair, which seems to reflect underlying issues within what you might term the Australian team culture and would appear to be a continuation of issues relating to the interaction of the touring squad and the support staff.