Suspended Warner could make his return in opening encounter

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Michael Clarke believes David Warner’s recent suspension should not stop him from being selected for the first Ashes Test for Australia next week.

Warner was suspended from all cricket until the series opener after it emerged he had thrown a punch at England batsman Joe Root in a Birmingham bar hours after the hosts had beaten Australia in the Champions Trophy.

That left many to conclude that Warner had no realistic chance of playing at Trent Bridge due to a lack of competitive action, but Clarke insists that is not the case.

The Australian captain stood down as a selector when coach Mickey Arthur was dramatically sacked less than two weeks ago, so he will have no say on Warner’s status.

But his message was clear in its support of Warner.

“I think he’s served his punishment. His punishment was no cricket up until the first Test match,” said Clarke after his side settled for a draw against Worcestershire at New Road to complete their Ashes 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. 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.”

As well as the Warner issue, the Australian selectors – Arthur’s replacement Darren Lehmann, Rod Marsh and John Inverarity – must also determine how best to balance the bowling attack.

None of those who appeared at Worcester will have 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 assured of sharing the new ball, while the Peter Siddle goes head to head with Jackson Bird and Ryan Harris.

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