While there were initial question marks over opener David Warner’s fitness for the second match of the Ashes series, there are no doubts about Australia's superiority in day-night tests.
The Aussies are a perfect eight from eight as they go into the pink-ball test against England beginning Thursday at the Adelaide Oval.
Warner had a few reprieves on his way to scoring 94 runs in the series-opener at the Gabba in Brisbane, where Australia beat England by nine wickets.
But after taking two hits in the ribs while batting, Warner didn’t field for Australia in England’s second innings. He still appeared to be in discomfort while batting in practice at Adelaide, but on Wednesday captain Pat Cummins said Warner “will be right."
“If he thought he couldn’t be as good as he normally is, he wouldn’t be playing," added Cummins.
Teammate Travis Head, who cemented his spot as Australia's No. 5 by scoring 152 in Brisbane, earlier predicted Warner wouldn't miss it.
“I flew home with him a couple of days ago. His family came into Adelaide, which was nice,” Head told Australian Associated Press . “And he felt like he was in a good space. Obviously he was a little bit sore . . . so I think for him it was just rest. I think he’s ready to go.”
Cummins also confirmed that right-arm paceman Jhye Richardson will return to the test side for the first time since February 2019 to replace the injured Josh Hazlewood in the only change for Australia.
Cummins said the 25-year-old Richardson was in the “upper echelon” of fast bowlers.
“He swings the ball both ways, he’s a bit faster than you think . . . and he’s really consistent,” Cummins said. “He’s more than ready to go.”
While Australia’s record in day-night tests is perfect, England has just one win in four attempts. The win came in its first day-nighter at home against West Indies in 2017.
England will get two chances with the pink ball in this series — the fifth test in Hobart, which was moved from Perth because of COVID-19 restrictions in Western Australia, will also be a day nighter.
Going into Adelaide, all-rounder Ben Stokes allayed concerns about the knee injury that hampered his bowling at Brisbane last week, after coming through a nets session.
The 30-year-old Stokes bowled just 12 overs at the Gabba, his first test match since March, and was in obvious discomfort during his latter spells after appearing to jar his left knee while chasing a ball to the boundary.
But he was back to full pace Tuesday, where he bowled for an hour.
“We will find out over the next couple of days,” England captain Root aid. "He obviously had a bit of a jar in his knee in the last game. Hopefully it’s something he’s shaken off now, and he can get back to full intensity and all options are on the table. We will have to manage that and see where we are at.”
All options means veteran pace bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad are back in the selection mix after being omitted for the first test at the Gabba. Both were reported to be fit, but England went for a different combination with a view to rotating its attack depending on conditions throughout the five-test series.
The 39-year-old Anderson, who claimed his first five-wicket haul in Australia in the corresponding day-night test four years ago, bowled for 40 minutes in the nets on Tuesday.
Root, meanwhile, said being docked test championship points because of slow over rates during the Brisbane test hurts more than all the England players losing their entire match fee.
England was fined and lost five World Test Championship points after being deemed to be five overs behind the required rate at the Gabba, even with time allowances for rain, wickets, injuries and pitch invasions taken into account.
“When we’re that far behind the over rate, you have got to take it (sanctions),” Root said. “But we have to be quicker, we all know that.”
Under the International Cricket Council's format, 12 points are awarded for a test win, four for a draw and six for a tie.
“When you play longer series like we do generally within the test championship — we generally play three, four, five-match series — losing chunks of points like that can really hurt you,” Root said.
It hurts more when it comes to the difficulty of earning points away from home. England has lost 10 of its last 11 tests in Australia, and has not won a match Down Under since a victorious tour of 2010-11. England was swept 5-0 in 2013-14 and lost 4-0, with one match drawn, in 2017-18.
And to make matters more difficult, no England team has recovered to win an Ashes series in Australia after losing the first test since captain Len Hutton’s squad in 1954-55.
In that series, which featured six-day tests — with a rest day included — five-hour match days and eight-ball overs, England lost the first test at the Gabba by a whopping innings and 154 runs but recovered to win the series 3-1 to retain the Ashes.
Australia: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (captain), Nathan Lyon, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc.
England: Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Jack Leach
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