In the rich tradition of last-minute Ashes drama and 12 years after Glenn McGrath's freak ankle injury, Australia's bid to reclaim the urn is suddenly beset by mishaps.
Before the series kicked off, Steve Smith, David Warner and Usman Khawaja were all paying $5.50 with bookmaker Neds to top the run tally for the five-Test series between the Aussies and the Old Enemy.
But scores of 60 and 64 against South Australia earlier this month couldn't stop Shaun Marsh edging him out for the position. Maxwell has played Australia's four most recent Test matches, in India and Bangladesh, and scored his maiden Test hundred in Ranchi in March. "He's very confident and he says he'll be right to go", Smith told reporters ahead of Thursday's Ashes opener at the Gabba. The worst-case scenario would be for both Warner and Marsh to play then retire hurt at some point in Australia's first innings. It's part and parcel of playing cricket. I'm getting a bit of physio treatment at the moment and hopefully it's settled down over the next 24 or 48 hours.
"I don't think a sore neck is going to keep me out".
England captain Joe Root, who declined to reveal the makeup of the tourists' side, expects Warner to take his place in the home team. "We'll still prepare the same". The opening batsman injured his neck while taking a high catch on the Gabba outfield, and later left for the dressing room to get treatment. This was after Warner reportedly suffered a sore neck during a training session on Tuesday.