Long day: Michael Clarke at Blacktown on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images
David Warner has earned the praise of Michael Clarke for his positive input with the NSW Sheffield Shield side this week.
Warner missed out with the bat, scoring 21 and 15 in the Blues' two-wicket loss to Tasmania at Blacktown. But Clarke said the dynamic left-hander was doing everything else right and first-class runs would follow.
''Davey's been good. He obviously would have liked a few runs like all of us, but he's been great around the group,'' Clarke said. ''He's working hard and hopefully he can make a few against the Vics.
''I just hope all the guys are making runs so the [Test] selectors have a tough job ahead of them. But Davey has been great around the group and is not far away from making some runs.''
Clarke was understandably careful not to single out players who he believed could feature in the first Test against England on November 21 at the Gabba. He is no longer a selector, of course. However, he said there was genuine competition for top-six spots. ''It's a good thing, that's what we've been after for a long time,'' he said. ''If guys are making runs at state level, it's going to put pressure on all the players to make sure everyone is performing at the highest level. It's a good problem to have.''
Warner is a likely starter in Brisbane. Other contenders include Chris Rogers, Ed Cowan, Phillip Hughes and Aaron Finch.
The spinner's spot, too, is hotly contested, with Fawad Ahmed grabbing six wickets for Victoria against Western Australia. Nathan Lyon recovered against Tasmania to claim three late wickets.
''It's going to be interesting to see what happens, but the more wickets both of them can take, the more they're pushing for selection,'' Clarke said. ''I would imagine there will be more taken into account than that but I think performance, as Darren Lehmann has come out and said, will dictate who gets an opportunity.''
Clarke looked a bit uncomfortable during play on Saturday but said it was nothing apart from his usual soreness. ''[I'm] just a little bit stiff and sore but I'm fine,'' he said. ''I've got a few days before the next Shield game so hopefully I'll be ready to go to Victoria.''
Clarke said he was ''extremely'' confident of taking his place in the next game.
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