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Cummins backs Richardson as Hazlewood replacement, Warner decision made

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Expert
15th December, 2021
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David Warner will put the pain of bruised ribs to the side to take his place in the team for the Second Ashes Test while Jhye Richardson has won the race to replace Josh Hazlewood.

Test skipper Pat Cummins on Wednesday announced Warner had passed a fitness test on his bruised ribs and would open alongside Marcus Harris while Richardson got the nod over Queensland seamer Michael Neser with Hazlewood sidelined with a side strain.

Richardson, 25, took five wickets in his Test debut against Sri Lanka in 2019 but injured his right shoulder in a fielding mishap in the UAE later that year as Australia prepared for their World Cup campaign.

Neser, 31, has been part of Australia’s Test squad since the same year but is yet to receive his first baggy green and will again carry the drinks for the day-night clash with England at the Adelaide Oval, starting on Thursday.

Warner was hit in the ribs by English all-rounder Ben Stokes during his 94 in the first innings of last week’s nine-wicket Test win in Brisbane and the 35-year-old tested himself out in the nets on Tuesday.

Despite appearing to be in some discomfort, he has been declared a certain starter, meaning Queensland veteran Usman Khawaja again misses out.

“He’ll be right, he had a bat yesterday, batted with a bit of discomfort but knowing Davey he’s not going to miss this one. He’ll be fine once adrenaline end everything kicks in,” Cummins said at his captain’s media conference.

“A little bit sore but he’ll be fine. It’s one thing batting in the nets, it’s a different thing when you walk out and you’ve got a packed crowd.

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“I don’t think he even had any painkillers yesterday.

“He’s played close to 90 Tests. I’m sure a lot of them have been played with discomfort or with things going into the game. He will be fine tomorrow.”

The English quicks are likely to target Warner with short-pitched bowling but Cummins was not concerned.

“He’s sore but I don’t think he’s going to bat any differently to how he normally would,” he said.

“As a bowler it might be something you think about as a plan B but you learn pretty quickly whether that’s more of an option than normal.”

Cummins said Neser could have done the job but Richardson’s recent form was undeniable, showing he was fully over the shoulder surgery which struck him down in 2019.

“He has worked incredibly hard and had a great start to this year for WA in Shield cricket and we just think he’s firing. I’m really excited to see him out there,” he said.

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“He’s taken his time, even last year he battled in the field but he was one of the main bowlers in the Big Bash. He looks not to only be as good as the bowler he was a few years ago, I think he’s better. He’s got more control, he’s got all the skills, he’s just that little bit older so it’s huge for him. I’m really happy for all the hard work he’s put in.”

The skipper said he would skid onto the bat more than Hazlewood, can swing the ball both ways, is a lot faster than you think and can be really consistent.

“He’s more than ready to go. Josh is a big void to fill but we feel really confident Jhye’s going to step straight in.

“I think Jhye really is in that upper echelon, he’s been bowling fantastically so I don’t think you’ll see too much change. I think the biggest change is having someone like Cameron Green to lean on now as well as a a fourth quick option.

“We will probably try and get him into the game a bit more. Nathan [Lyon] always finds a bit of spin here. We’re not short of options at any time – don’t know how I’ll use them yet,” he added while indicating he would probably take the new ball with Mitchell Starc.

England are yet to confirm their line-up for the Second Test with plenty of conjecture over whether veteran pace duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad will be recalled after they were controversially left out of the series opener at the Gabba.

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Australia’s pink-ball record of eight Tests without defeat means they will be overwhelming favourites but Cummins warned the day-night format brought a degree of risk.
“I think it brings more unknowns,” he said. “It’s still not a huge sample size but you feel like you learn something new each time you play one.

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“The unknowns of it are kind of the leveller at some stages – you might get a period of play where the ball starts swinging around and you can’t really explain why, or nipping around (off the pitch) but we’ve got good experience, we’ve played Sheffield Shield cricket, each year we play a couple of pink-ball games.”

Last summer the Australians routed India for 36 in an emphatic victory and Cummins expects to see another typical Adelaide Oval wicket which is traditionally suited to batting but can give bowlers plenty of rewards if they put the ball in the right areas.

Australia XI: Marcus Harris, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon, Jhye Richardson

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