Sport Cricket The ‘poke and prod’ that could inspire David Warner in the third Ashes Test
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The ‘poke and prod’ that could inspire David Warner in the third Ashes Test

Australia's senior batsman David Warner will be hoping to end his run of outs that continued at Lord’s. Photo: Getty
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The beard is gone. But is the run of bad form? A freshly shaven David Warner looms as Australia’s key man in a side missing Steve Smith for the third Ashes Test.

With Smith ruled out of the Leeds clash that starts on Thursday due to concussion symptoms, the pressure on Warner and Usman Khawaja has increased.

Warner has scored just 18 runs in four innings this series, with Stuart Broad dismissing him on three occasions.

His run of failures comes in stark contrast to his form at this year’s ICC World Cup, when he finished the tournament as the second-highest runscorer.

As the senior batsman in Australia’s team for the Headingley Test, Warner needs to perform or Australia will be at major risk of losing its 1-0 series lead.

Australian captain Tim Paine has backed the opener to come good when his country really needs him.

“I’ve spoken a lot about the fact he averages close to 50 in Test cricket and he’s done that over a long period of time,” Paine said.

“I think with Steve missing this game, it might be the little poke and prod that ‘Davey’ needs.

“He likes that responsibility and my experience with Davey is when people doubt him and his back is against the wall, he comes out swinging.

“I’m expecting the very best David Warner this week.”

Warner and his teammates will be expecting another barrage of short-pitched bowling from England’s Jofra Archer, who hit many Australians on his headline-making Test debut.

Australia coach Justin Langer has urged his team to stick to its bowling plans and sees that as the key to victory.

“We know what our plans are to beat England,” Langer said.

“What we’re not going to do is get caught up in an emotional battle of who’s going to bowl the quickest bouncers.

“We’re here to win the Test match, not to see how many helmets we can hit.”

England needs to win two of the three remaining Tests to win back the Ashes, given Australia only needs to draw the series to retain cricket’s famous urn. 

The hosts are expected to stick with the same team that played at Lord’s.

What will our team look like?

Marnus Labuschagne showed he is more than capable with a terrific 59 at Lord’s as Smith’s concussion replacement.

The 25-year-old will come into Australia’s team for Smith while a change in the bowling group is almost certain.

James Pattinson seems set to come back in, while Mitchell Starc has also been bowling well in the nets.

The back-to-back nature of the second and third Ashes Tests is likely to see the tourists shuffle their pack.

What do the stats suggest?

England’s recent record against Australia in Leeds is dicey, to say the least. It has lost three of the past four Ashes Tests at the venue by an innings.

Australia has nine wins in 24 Ashes Tests at Headingley, compared to England’s seven.

Will it rain?

There is a chance of some day one showers, particularly in the morning session, but the good news is it looks unlikely to rain much for the rest of the Test.

A repeat of Lord’s is not on the cards.

Any word on the pitch?

A slow pitch is expected at Headingley, which might bring Nathan Lyon into play as the Test progresses.

Early looks at the surface have suggested another dry wicket, which could play similarly to the Edgbaston pitch.

How do I follow the Test?

Television coverage of the third Test begins at 7.30pm (AEST) on each night of play and is either broadcast on the Nine Network’s main channel or GEM.

You can also stream the cricket on 9Now and watch on any device.

ABC Radio will broadcast audio coverage and The New Daily will provide a full wrap-up of each day’s play in your morning newsletter.

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