Ashes 2013: Who will rattle the lions' cage?
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Australia are pondering whether to recall controversial batsman David Warner for their must-win third Ashes Test against England at Old Trafford starting on Thursday. Top-order batting has long been Australia's achilles heel and so it proved in a crushing 347-run second Test defeat at Lord's, where the tourists were skittled out for just 128 in their first innings. Captain's corner: We know we can beat England, says Clarke
England lead the five-match series 2-0 and Australia need to win in Manchester if their hopes of regaining the Ashes are not to be extinguished — a drawn series would see holders England retain the urn. Australia, following a 4-0 series reverse in India earlier this year, have suffered six successive Tests defeats for the first time since 1984 — they last lost seven in a row in the 19th century. Also read: Can Warne inspire Australia?
Warner missed the first two Tests of the current series having been suspended in the run-up to the Ashes for punching England's Joe Root in a Birmingham bar after Australia lost a Champions Trophy match to their arch-rivals last month. Instead the 26-year-old opener joined up with Australia A for whom he made 193 against South Africa A in Pretoria last week before becoming embroiled in a sledging row with the home side's wicketkeeper. Captain's corner: Hard to just order a wicket, says Cook
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is adamant that, if selected, Warner must open as that would give him the best chance of imposing his game on England's bowlers. But that would mean Australia coach Darren Lehmann having to give up on at least half of his chosen first-wicket duo of Shane Watson and Chris Rogers.
A middle order berth could be found for Warner if Australia drop Phil Hughes or if Steven Smith fails to recover in time from a back injury that saw him miss training on Tuesday. Australia's batsmen, none of whom including world class strokeplayer and captain Michael Clarke, have yet made a hundred this Ashes, are assailed by conflicting advice, be it "play your natural game" or "bat time". Also read: 'I know what it takes to win a Test match'