Impending leadership role can spur Warner to Oval score

Steven Smith replacing Michael Clarke as the new Australian Test captain was a certainty, but who joined the prodigious young batsman as his deputy was far from it.

That the role has been handed to David Warner, perhaps the most rambunctious player to wear a Baggy Green in the past few years, has been met with plenty of raised eyebrows around the world.

From his on-field sledging to his scattered shot selections and his scraps in Walkabouts, Warner has been anything but the model professional in his time in international cricket.

However, in the past 18 months the opening batsman has been on a campaign to improve both himself and his image in the game and that work has seemingly paid off with the announcement of his elevation to Test vice captaincy.

Whether the upcoming new role will temper Warner’s game will be an interesting sub-plot at the Oval for the fifth and final Test in the Ashes, where competitive storylines will be few and far between.

Although the added responsibility is unlikely to quieten the stocky aggressor, who has been a flag bearer for the aggressive style of cricket Clarke and Darren Lehmann have preached in the last few years, it may improve his decision making with bat in hand.

Twice in two games Warner has been dismissed in the same fashion against England. With two men on the boundary waiting for the hook, Warner has top-edged short balls outside off stump looking to work to the leg side for a single. They have been decisions to attract a healthy dose of criticism from the game’s punditry brethren.

With Clarke, Brad Haddin and Chris Rogers all set to depart the side following the Oval clash, Warner will become a more senior figure of a team about to enter transition. Dismissals like that need to be a thing of the past.

How much more responsibility Warner takes into his batting will be evident in London, where he shares 7/2 favouritism with Smith to be Australia’s leading first-innings run scorer.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.