Aussies call in extra batsman but say vice-captain will play despite stiff neck
Warner confident, but Maxwell in as cover
Australia have called in Glenn Maxwell as a replacement batsman into their Ashes squad as cover for vice-captain David Warner, but they're confident the star opener will be fit to play the first Test against England.
Warner showed some discomfort during a 30-minute net session on Wednesday morning and while he's optimistic he'll be fit enough to play, selectors have called upon Maxwell in case the vice-captain's sore neck, suffered at training on Tuesday, rules him out of the match.
As captain Steve Smith faced the media in Brisbane on Wednesday, selectors were discussing who - if anyone - would be added to the squad in case Warner doesn’t come up.
"They're thinking about it (bringing in a replacement player) at the moment, but Davey is confident he'll be OK," Smith said.
"There's a good chance someone will be in as cover, but I'm not sure who at this stage.
"Davey is going well. He had a hit just before and he's very confident. He said he'll be right to go."
As it turns out, the National Selection Panel landed on Maxwell.
Warner faced just two deliveries in the nets on Tuesday after he twinged his neck during a fielding drill on The Gabba outfield. The opener later said "I don’t think a stiff neck is going to keep me out" and Smith said he had no doubt his vice-captain would be cleared to play.
In the seemingly unlikely case of Warner missing the match, No.6 Shaun Marsh could be elevated to open alongside his state teammate Cameron Bancroft and Maxwell brought into the middle order.
Smith confirmed reserve quicks Jackson Bird and Chadd Sayers would miss out regardless, meaning Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins will lead the pace attack together for the first time in Test cricket.Image Id: 5E7BB5E709DB4F949C004AD00671D4E1 Image Caption: Warner received treatment on his neck at yesterday's net session // Getty
A helmet-less Warner had a 30-minute net session at The Gabba, facing some throwdowns from assistant coach John Davison.
The left-hander looked slightly uncomfortable at stages early in the session and grimaced in discomfort when playing some shots. But he finished with a couple of booming pull shots and some fluid straight drives before speaking with team doctor Richard Saw and heading to the rooms.
The left-hander reported some stiffness whenever he moved his head backwards, but his light-hearted suggestion that he could even adopt the unusual front-on batting stance of West Indian great Shivnarine Chanderpaul suggests he's unconcerned heading into his first Ashes campaign as vice-captain.
"He said he'll even bat like Shivnarine Chanderpaul if he has to and face the other way, so I think he'll be alright," Smith said.
"It's improved a fair bit over the last 24 hours. Hopefully he can keep improving and he'll be 100 per cent come 10 o'clock in the morning."
Australia XI: David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (c), Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
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