David Warner has revealed he and opening partner Usman Khawaja have made a pact not to leave Australia in the lurch by retiring at the same time.
Warner and Khawaja grew up playing cricket together but have faced very different fortunes as, for the exception of his ball tampering ban, Warner has been a mainstay while Khawaja has been in and out at times of his career.
The third Test against South Africa is Warner’s 101st Test, while Khawaja is in match 56.
The pair are both 36 and Warner is the senior by just under two months.
Warner revealed during the bad light and rain delay throughout the day that Khawaja was planning to stick around in the Baggy Green, making a pact not to call it at the same time.
In 1984 Dennis Lillee, Rod Marsh and Greg Chappell all retired at the same time and Australia went four years before winning another series.
In 2007, Justin Langer, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne all pulled the pin at the same time as well.
While the latter trio didn’t send Australia into oblivion, it still required plenty of time to find replacements.
It’s a drama the current Aussies are conscious of avoiding.
“We’re going to enjoy the next 12 months, enjoy it as much as we can,’’ Warner told Fox Cricket.
“For us it’s about not leaving this team with a big hole. I know through those five-year transition period when a lot of the greats left, they’re big holes to fill with the amount of games you play.
“We always talk about games played and how much that means into a team’s performance and perspective with experience. You can’t fill that void.”
There are plenty of questions about Australia’s future as the duo edge nearer to 40 than 30 but there are some options.
Marcus Harris has been in the Australian squad all summer, while Matthew Renshaw will bat in the middle order in the current Test.
South Australia’s Henry Hunt has been highly regarded, while Cameron Bancroft has 483 runs at 53.66 in Sheffield Shield for Western Australia and Tim Ward has 421 runs at 42.10 for Tasmania.
Will Pucovski, should he make another comeback after regular concussions, will also likely be a strong consideration.
“We’ve got great players coming through with Renshaw now coming back into the fold,” Warner said of the options behind the current pair.
“He spoke about learning his lessons from when he first came in, which is awesome.
“Marcus Harris has 15 to 20 Tests under his belt. He’s got that experience, now it’s taking that game to the next level for him and establishing his spot.
“The team is in a great spot for when we decide to leave, or get tapped on the shoulder.”
One name Kerry O’Keeffe believes will stick around is 33-year-old Steve Smith.
“He bats four, he’s overcome the Neil Wagner barrage, he’s changed his technique, I think that’s added 18 months to two years to his game,” O’Keeffe said.
“I think he’ll go on Smith.”