Shaun Marsh has joined David Warner on the injury-watch list after pulling up from training with a stiff back on the eve of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane. Warner had hurt his neck during a fielding drill on Tuesday. Glenn Maxwell was called in as cover on Wednesday; by the end of the afternoon, he found himself on standby for Marsh as well as Warner.
The uncertainty complicates what would otherwise be a straightforward selection for Australia on Thursday morning. Should Warner be ruled out, the most logical move would be to shift Marsh up the order to open with Cameron Bancroft, and have Maxwell come in at No. 6. But Marsh himself being under a cloud muddies those waters somewhat.
Earlier in the day, Australia captain Steven Smith had said he was confident Warner would be passed fit. Although Warner had faced only two throwdowns in the nets on Tuesday, he enjoyed a much longer batting session on match eve as he aimed to prove his fitness.
“Davey’s going well,” Smith said after Australia’s training session on Wednesday. “He had a hit just before. He’s very confident and he says he’ll be right to go. It’s part and parcel of playing cricket. Guys have injuries now and then. You have little niggles and he’s confident that he’ll be okay. He said he’ll even bat like Shivnarine Chanderpaul if he has to bat that way. So I think he’ll be all right.”
Soon after Smith’s press conference, Australia confirmed that Maxwell would be brought in as cover. Maxwell has played Australia’s four most recent Test matches, in India and Bangladesh, and scored his maiden Test hundred in Ranchi in March.
However, he is yet to play a Test match on home soil, and was overlooked in the original squad as the selectors instead opted for Marsh as the No. 6 batsman.
Smith also confirmed that, as expected, fast bowlers Jackson Bird and Chadd Sayers would sit out of the side from the 13-man squad.