Australians 396-4 & 344-5 Worcestershire 284 & 274-5: Michael Clarke backs David Warner to hit a hundred as return to side looks likely


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The Independent Online

Australia’s preparations for the Ashes concluded with a strong hint from captain Michael Clarke that David Warner will step straight back into the Test side at Trent Bridge on Wednesday after the suspension imposed following his altercation with England’s Joe Root in a Birmingham nightclub effectively ended last night.

Warner’s ban meant he missed Australia’s warm-up match against Somerset last week and the four-day contest with Worcestershire that ended in a draw, and will travel to Nottingham having played no cricket since 8 June. Yet Clarke, speaking for the first time since he stepped down as a selector and Darren Lehmann replaced Mickey Arthur as coach, said the 26-year-old batsman could “walk straight out in a Test and make a hundred”.

“He has served his punishment, which was no cricket up until the first Test match,” Clarke said. “I’m not a selector now but I don’t believe David will not be selected because of his punishment.

“He has had plenty of net sessions, and you can see from looking at him that he is a lot fitter. I’ve been really happy with the way he has been working. His Test form has been outstanding, so that is not going to be an issue. The selectors will take into consideration that he has not played much cricket over the last couple of weeks but with Dave it is more about his mind being clear. He is the type of player who could walk straight out in the first Test and make a hundred.”

Clarke, who confirmed after his own second-innings century at New Road that the back injury that ruled him out of the Champions Trophy is no longer a concern, would not confirm that Shane Watson and Chris Rogers would open at Trent Bridge, despite a partnership of 170 in the first innings.

“I’ll decide the batting order when I’m given the eleven who will play,” he said. Thus far, Warner has only opened in his 19 Test appearances.