Ashes: Michael Clarke backs David Warner for Ashes return
Last Updated: 05/07/13 7:09pm
David Warner: Backed to return from ban for the first Ashes Test
Australia captain Michael Clarke believes David Warner should still be eligible for the first Ashes Test, despite his recent suspension.
Warner was banned from all cricket until the series opener after an alternation with England batsman Joe Root in a Birmingham bar last month and has not played competitive cricket since 8 June.
Clarke will not rule on his fate after stepping down as selector in the aftermath of coach Mickey Arthur's axe but reckons the 26-year-old has served his time - and would relish returning to Ashes battle.
"I think he's served his punishment. His punishment was no cricket up to the first Test match," said Clarke after his side settled for a draw against
Worcestershire at New Road to complete their preparations.
"Now it's about working out what our best team is. I don't believe David won't be selected because of punishment, I think that's been dealt with.
"The selectors will take into consideration that he hasn't played much cricket in the last couple of weeks but with Davey it's more about his mind being clear and playing with intent.
"I don't think Davey is the type of player that needs two four-day games to runs and feel confident.
"If he's in the right place and batting well in the nets I have confidence that, if the selectors do pick him, he can walk straight into the first Test and make a hundred."
Clarke said he believed the incident with Root had in fact galvanised Warner.
"He's had plenty of net sessions," he added. "He's been in the nets every day.
"Just looking at him now he looks a lot fitter than he has been and he's been
working extra hard.
"It's been tough, no doubt, but he understood the consequences at the time and I think he handled himself really well."
As well as Warner's involvement, the Australia selectors - Arthur's replacement, Darren Lehmann, Rod Marsh and John Inverarity - must also determine how best to balance the attack.
None of those who appeared at Worcester furthered their case significantly as they took just four wickets on the final day to settle for a draw.
That leaves James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc virtually assured of sharing the new ball, while the off-colour Peter Siddle goes head to head with Jackson Bird and Ryan Harris, who struggled to extract much from a tame New Road deck.