Andrew McDonald has left the door open for Cameron Green to replace David Warner at the top of the Test order, refusing to limit the candidate pool to specialist openers.
Warner will play his final Test in Sydney next week, fulfilling his ambition for a home farewell after announcing his retirement plans last June.
Australia will be hoping to send Warner off on a winning note in pursuit of a 3-0 series victory over Pakistan after winning the second Test at the MCG by 79 runs.
McDonald on Saturday labelled Warner as Australia’s greatest ever three-format player, with the opener still eying off a future in white-ball cricket.
But while eventual successors to Warner’s spot in limited-overs cricket are clearer, Australia’s coach has admitted the path is not so easy in the game’s longest format.
“He’s going to be hard to replace, someone who strikes at 70 and averaging 45, (and) most ever runs as an Australian opener,” McDonald said.
“He probably at the moment sits as probably our greatest of all-three-format player.”
“He’ll be a loss. I know people have been gunning for him for a period of time, but for us internally we’ve seen the great value in what he brings to the table hence why we’ve kept picking him.”
McDonald on Saturday suggested Cameron Bancroft, Marcus Harris, Matt Renshaw and Green were all options, with a call to be made before the Adelaide Test starting on January 17.
Bancroft has been the leading run-scorer in the Sheffield Shield for the past season and a half, while Warner backed Harris to replace him as recently as Boxing Day.
McDonald laughed off that call on Saturday, noting Warner is not a selector and during the Ashes also endorsed Renshaw as his successor.
The likes of Ricky Ponting and Justin Langer have each called for Australia to pick a specialist opener in the past week, rather than moving another player up the order.
But McDonald indicated that was not off the table when asked about Green’s chances of coming back into the team at the top.
“All options will be considered,” McDonald said.
“We’re not going to make the decision until the deadline, which would be the West Indies game.
“But yeah, Cameron Green, as a discussion around who are the best six batters, would definitely be in the discussion.”
McDonald also said he would leave a decision on Warner’s availability for white-ball matches later in the summer to performance bosses, with the opener signed to play franchise cricket in Dubai at the same time.
Warner will return to the Sydney Thunder after the SCG Test and play out the rest of the BBL, but is expected to apply to play for the Dubai Capitals in the ILT20 at the same time Australia host the West Indies in white-ball games.
The 37-year-old will require a No Objection Certificate from Cricket Australia to play in the T20 league, where he has already featured in marketing pieces.
It’s something we’ll work through anytime it’s in season,” McDonald said.
“Adam Zampa and Marcus Stoinis went to the UAE last year as well (but did not miss international games), every application is different. There’s different circumstances, what cricket they’ve got coming up.
“I’m sure he’ll apply. It’ll be considered. (Chief selector) George Bailey and (high performance manager) Ben Oliver will work through that and there’ll be an outcome.”