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The Ashes: David Warner handed Australia backing for England clashes

Veteran opener David Warner is the standout name included in the 17-man Australia squad for the first two Tests of this summer’s five-match Ashes series.

The 36-year-old batter keeps his place in the red-ball party, despite struggling for form and fitness following a recent elbow injury, as the Australian selectors prepare for a busy few months ahead.

WhatEngland v Australia, 2023 Ashes series
WhereEdgbaston, Lord's, Headingley, Old Trafford, The Oval
WhenFriday 16th June - Monday 31st July 2023
How to watchSky Sports Cricket & Main Event
Odds (outright)England 10/11, Draw 6/1, Australia 6/4

Cummins to lead Test squad

Australia have decided to select a 17-man touring squad, which will feature in the World Test Championship final against India and then the first two Ashes Tests.

The tourists should benefit from their one-off Test showdown in early June, with the five-day final taking place in English conditions at The Oval.

George Bailey, Chairman of Selectors, said: "I think we'll get through that Test championship and then start to have a look at what it looks like. Different opposition, different surface. We'll work through that."

Along with the experienced Warner, three other opening batters have been included - Marcus Harris, Matt Renshaw and Usman Khawaja - all of them left-handers.

One of their all-round options is Mitchell Marsh, who returns to the Aussie Test squad for the first time since 2019, while the selectors have decided to select just four main seam bowlers - supported by Marsh and Cameron Green.

Skipper Pat Cummins is one of the quartet, with Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Scott Boland the other pacemen included.

Steve Smith, currently ranked the world third-best Test batsman, will be vice-captain, while Alex Carey will keep wicket, with Josh Inglis selected as back-up for Australia - who are 17/2 to win both the Ashes and 2023 World Cup.

Out-of-sorts Warner needs to impress

Having scored just one century in his last 19 Tests, there may be some raised eyebrows over the selection of Warner.

The 36-year-old suffered an elbow injury in February’s series in India and questions were being raised over his five-day career.

But Warner does bring huge Ashes experience, as he looks set to play in his seventh series against England, although his recent record has been poor.

The left-hander averaged a dismal 9.50 during the 2019 series in England, although his overall Test average is currently 45.47.

Warner has recorded three Test centuries against England, but it’s worth noting that all three came on home soil - in fact 19 of his 25 Test tons have been made in Australia, who are 10/11 to retain the Ashes this summer by securing at least a drawn series.

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County performers could get later call

If things don’t start well in the opening two Tests, then the Australian selectors could look to mix up their bowling attack with two names likely to get the call.

Sean Abbott and Michael Neser have been left out of the original touring party, but could yet feature in the final three Ashes Tests.

Both seamers are playing County Championship cricket this season - Abbott with Surrey and Neser with Glamorgan - and that experience could prove useful.

Neser has made just two Test appearances to date, while Abbott is yet to play a five-day international, but both are in their 30s and do have plenty of domestic experience.

Nathan Lyon is the tourists’ main spin option once again, with Todd Murphy his main back-up if a second spinner is required.

Full squad

Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner.

Australia's summer schedule

India v Australia (World Test Championship) - The Oval - Wednesday 7th June

England v Australia (Ashes 1st Test) - Edgbaston - Friday 16th June

England v Australia (Ashes 2nd Test) - Lord's - Wednesday 18th June

England v Australia (Ashes 3rd Test) - Headingley - Thursday 6th July

England v Australia (Ashes 4th Test) - Old Trafford - Wednesday 19th July

England v Australia (Ashes 5th Test) - The Oval - Thursday 27th July

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