Australian batsman David Warner on Tuesday heaped praise on his Ashes nemesis Stuart Broad, who is on the brink of 500 Test wickets, joking selectors should drop the paceman more often.

Broad, who has 499 wickets going into Tuesday’s fifth day of the third Test against the West Indies at Old Trafford, dismissed Warner cheaply seven times in 10 innings during last year’s drawn Ashes series in England.

Broad’s future was questioned when England left him out of the first Test against the West Indies, only for the bowler to roar back to form in the second Test, then propel his team toward victory in the third with six wickets and a swashbuckling half-century in the first innings.

“I think they should drop him again,” said left-handed batsman Warner, who had a torrid time against Broad and scored just 95 runs at an average of 9.5 during the 2019 series.

“I don’t know why they dropped him for that first game but it’d be nice if I was to play there again and he wasn’t playing,” he told reporters.

Warner said Broad, 34, had been “outstanding” in the past year and a half and he could not understand his omission from the first Test.

“I think he’s a world-class bowler. In the past 18 months he’s really worked hard on pitching the ball up,” he said. “He’s obviously got a hell of a record against left-handers and his capability to bring the ball back off the wicket into the right-hander is another string to his bow.”

Warner said Broad and long-time new-ball partner James Anderson, who have bagged more than 1,000 Test wickets combined, created a high-pressure environment at the crease.

“You just can’t go after them, they don’t take their foot off the pedal,” he said. “These guys have the ability to restrict runs. In England, they bowl a length where if you drive, you’re probably going to nick, (but) they can also hit the stumps, so you can’t just leave it. In English conditions, they know how to get wickets.”

Fears over Boxing Day Test

Warner also raised fears that Virat Kohli’s India will be unable to play the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne as Covid-19 cases continue to spike in Australia’s second largest city.

The match starting on December 26 is regarded as the highlight of Australia’s home season, played before 100,000 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and huge television audiences.

But Warner said shifting venues was a real possibility, with Melbourne currently in partial lockdown as Victoria state struggles to contain a second wave of virus infections.

“It’s out of our control at the moment. Whatever happens, if you put something in place now, it’s going to change tomorrow,” he said.

“It’s difficult to process. We’re just going to have to wait and, yeah, you might see the first Boxing Day Test not in Melbourne.”

Warner’s remarks came as authorities in Victoria on Tuesday said there were 384 new cases in the state, taking total active cases to more than 9,000.