Australia’s fast bowling stocks are deep but the Victorian quick will be awfully difficult to leave out of the XI in Birmingham after a sensational display that won him a second innings return of 3-19 in 13 overs and match figures of 4-35 in 23 overs.
An outstanding Cummins, leading the charge for the Haddin XII, also caused no shortage of headaches bowling for the other team in the practice match, taking 5-24 in 11 overs in the first innings before having too much heat for Joe Burns, who he bowled for a first-ball duck late on Wednesday.
Veteran Peter Siddle was also superb alongside Cummins, with 4-31 in the first innings and the scalp of Steve Smith before stumps.
The quicks’ venom made it tough going again for the batsmen – 32 wickets have fallen in two days, with 15 of them on Wednesday. Warner, with 58 in the Haddin XII second innings, is the only one to pass the half-century mark.
A mis-timed pull shot off the bowling of Chris Tremain eventually brought about an end to his knock but he was pleased with the hit.
“It was just great for the mentality to go out there and switch from white ball to red ball. You probably couldn’t have asked for any more exciting conditions,” Warner said.
“It was quite challenging. You’re not expecting a wicket to go up, down and sideways and swing. I thought it was a great hit-out for myself personally and a lot of the other guys. It just puts it in the back of your mind that it’s not going to be easy and you have to try and find a way to score. You probably won’t get any better practice leading into that first Test.”
Elsewhere, there were other batsmen with their eyes on a place in the Ashes series who failed to make an impact. Haddin XII captain Travis Head, expected to figure at No.5 in the first Test, followed a score of one in the first innings with a third-ball duck when he was lbw to Mitchell Marsh.
Kurtis Patterson’s hopes of making the squad when it’s announced on Friday also nosedived. After making two on Tuesday, he was trapped on the pads by Tremain, like Head not troubling the scorer.
Pattinson had the measure of Warner’s opening partner Marcus Harris, who edged him to Joe Burns in the slips on 15, and Marnus Labuschagne, who was judged leg-before on six.
Will Pucovski (37) and Alex Carey (26) also made contributions for the Haddin XII, who were bowled out for 170 in their second innings as Marsh, with 5-34, made a late claim for selection as an all-rounder. That set Tim Paine’s Hick XII 156 to win and after losing Burns and Smith, lbw to Siddle for eight, they will resume with Cameron Bancroft unbeaten on 25 and Matthew Wade yet to score.
Cummins and Pattinson will be licking their lips at the prospect of a crack at England’s top order.
If Australia have batting concerns before the first Test, starting next Thursday, then they are not alone.
There were incredible scenes at Lord’s as Ireland’s 37-year-old Murtagh, who once played Sydney grade cricket with Warner and Brad Haddin at Eastern Suburbs, guaranteed his name being etched on the Lord’s honour board, claiming 5-13 as England were rolled for 85.
“I heard the umpires saying they were six and seven (down) then they were all out,” Warner said. “It happens in cricket. We have been on that end of it as well.”
The England-Ireland contest is a four-day Test and, at the rate it began, it might not require that duration.
The same is certainly the case for Australia’s practice game, which should be over on day three on Thursday.
Chris Barrett is Sports Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.