The injury cloud over David Warner for the second Ashes Test has darkened after the opener showed signs of discomfort in a net session at the Adelaide Oval. Just two days out from the start of the pink-ball Test, Warner did not face up to Australia’s quicks and only hit throwdowns from batting coach Michael Di Venuto.
Warner’s availability for the day-night clash had been in doubt since he copped two balls to the ribs in his first-innings 94 at the Gabba. He then did not field in England’s second innings or bat in Australia’s meagre chase of 20, with the hosts insistent they were taking a cautious approach.
But there was at least some cause for concern facing up to the sidearm device under the lights in Adelaide on Tuesday night. He looked in some discomfort when he tried to pull a ball, earning the attention of coach Justin Langer from one of the few deliveries he went back to.
Warner then later had a lengthy chat with both Langer and Di Venuto with the Australian coach clearly pointing to his ribs, before the left-hander left the nets.
Australia have one final optional session on Wednesday afternoon before Thursday afternoon’s start. The net session came after teammate Travis Head had earlier backed Warner to recover from the rib injury.
“I flew home with him a couple of days ago. His family came into Adelaide which was nice,” Head said. “And he felt like he was in a good space. Obviously he was a little bit sore, we didn’t take any risks with him only needing 20.
“He was going to bat but in the end our bowlers did a fantastic job to give him a day off. So I think for him it was just rest. I think he’s ready to go. So no issues for David.”
If Warner is to miss out, Australia have a replacement in Usman Khawaja who is ready to step in at the top of the order. That could effectively create a shootout between he and Marcus Harris for the Boxing Day Test, with Harris still yet to fully cement his spot.
Meanwhile Jhye Richardson appears even closer to returning to the Test team for the first time in almost three seasons to replace the injured Josh Hazlewood. The right-arm quick had a lengthy bowl in Tuesday night’s session alongside Mitchell Starc, hitting Marnus Labuschagne on the inner thigh at one stage.
Selection rival Michael Neser did not bowl, after the two hopefuls had initially batted in the first group.
Richardson took five wickets at an average of nine in his Test debut at the Gabba against Sri Lanka with the pink ball. But he was injured before the 2019 Ashes in England and has had to fight to regain his fitness and peak.
The 25-year-old has had a big start to the Sheffield Shield with 23 wickets at 13.43, while his extra pace would be seen as a factor during the day sessions in Adelaide where the ball does not move around much.