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News

David Warner unlikely for Boxing Day, big selection call likely in New Year

It is looking as though Australia will have an unchanged side for the second Test

David Warner is unlikely to be fit for the Boxing Day Test which means the decision on who will make way when he returns is set to be delayed until the third game of the series in the New Year.
Warner, who was swiftly moved to Melbourne earlier this week due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Sydney, has been out of action since injuring his groin in the second ODI at the SCG last month and despite an extensive rehabilitation programme, which has including using an oxygen chamber, the time frame looks too tight for him to be available.
In Warner's absence - and that of Will Pucovski who is also set to miss the second Test as he continues his recovery from concussion - Joe Burns and Matthew Wade formed a new opening partnership. Burns was coming off the back of a horrid run of form while Wade had never done the job previously in first-class cricket, but they added 70 in the second innings after repelling the new ball for 14 overs in the first.
Speaking earlier this week, Warner was retaining hope that he would be able to get ready for the second Test.
"Hopefully I can get up and about and start running at a higher tempo," he told SEN Radio. "I managed to get up to 14 kilometres an hour so I've got to work towards a max of 26 to 30 kilometres an hour by next week.
"If I can run between wickets and move laterally and do some ground fielding by the end of next week, I should be ready to go. Fingers are crossed."
When Warner has recovered, the selectors will have to make a call on who makes way for his return. Allrounder Cameron Green was handed a debut in Adelaide and is set to retain his place for Melbourne, but depending on the workloads for the frontline quicks - and perhaps the eventual location of the third Test which remains in doubt due to the Covid-19 situation in Sydney - it could be that the side reverts to the traditional six frontline batsmen with Wade returning to the middle order.
If the selectors did want to retain Green then one of the batsmen would have to make way and that conversation would likely revolve around Wade and Travis Head.
For a brief moment ahead of the first Test, it appeared Australia may have to consider another major loss to their batting order when Steven Smith tweaked his back in warm-ups. He was unable to have his traditional net two days out from the game but recovered in time to take his place, although he made minimal contributions with 1 off 29 balls in the first innings before a brief appearance in the chase.
It was the first time in six years that Smith had had a back problem and he said there was still a bit of stiffness following the game but remained confident it wouldn't hamper him ahead of the second Test.
"Initially when I did it I did have some fears," he said. "I've had a few back issues in the past and they are generally two or three day things where I do a lot of physio. It's about getting the physio to push on my back and get that extension and get that range back. It's still a bit stiff but it didn't hamper me too much throughout the game, it was all good. It's something that I need to manage when it goes. I probably haven't had an episode since 2014 so hopefully they can continue to be six years apart if they come.
"It's just if I sit down for too long, really. If I'm up and about and moving around I'm pretty good, so I might be a bit stiff after this press conference. If I'm moving around or laying down I'm good. But I'm not worried about it, think everything will be fine and will be good to go."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo