David Warner. Picture: SIPHIWE SIBEKO/REUTERS
David Warner. Picture: SIPHIWE SIBEKO/REUTERS

Australian batsman David Warner likening the Ashes to a "war" would serve to motivate England, the visitors’ paceman Stuart Broad said, as the teams gear up for a five-match series that begins on November 23.

Warner made the comparison recently, in a clarion call to summon "hatred" towards England that drew a mixed response from former players and pundits. Broad, 31, and no stranger to Ashes controversy having been constantly heckled during the 2013-14 series, said the Australian’s words could fuel England’s bid to retain the urn.

"It is a common theme that ex-Australian players and Australia players are quite vocal in the media," Broad told Sky Sports. "It is just one of the tactics they use… he’s already talked about the Ashes being like a war for him and we can use that to help us."

Broad, who became England’s second-highest wicket-taker in 2017, said the team were completely focused on preparations for the series.

"The Ashes tour is the biggest one you can go on," he said.

"We’re just desperate to get to Australia and let it begin. Everyone’s been very focused in their training.… I think it’s set up to be a brilliant series."

Australia’s domestic Sheffield Shield tends to open sleepily, with spring sunshine warming the few diehard fans that turn up to regional venues but auditions for coveted Ashes places have given the start of the 2017 tournament additional spice.

The question of who will bat at six in the order has become an increasing bugbear for a team desperate for a quality all-rounder while also needing some starch in the middle after a string of batting collapses.

Queries over the best man behind the stumps have also grown in volume since the incumbent Matt Wade was dropped for a one-day international (ODI) in India and then reinstated in the next game.

With less than a month before the first Test kicks off at the Gabba, the opening matches of the first-class Sheffield Shield will also be a battleground for the pacemen as they look to replace the injured James Pattinson. One player desperate for red ball form will be Victoria state’s Glenn Maxwell, who scored a fine century at No6 against India in March, but has failed to surpass 50 in seven Test innings since.

The hard-hitting 29-year-old is under pressure from Western Australia’s uncapped Marcus Stoinis, a medium pace-bowling all-rounder who has averaged 86.25 in his eight ODIs.

Another Western Australian in Hilton Cartwright is also a contender after his surprise selection at No6 for the second Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong last month.

Reuters

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