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January 30, 2013
David Warner's place on Australia's Test tour of India is open to serious fitness questions after it was confirmed he suffered a fractured thumb when struck in the nets ahead of the ODI series against West Indies.
On the eve of the squad announcement for the subcontinent, Warner was struck by a prancing delivery from Mitchell Johnson in the lively WACA ground nets and showed considerable discomfort before being whisked away for scans on the thumb that confirmed a break.
"David Warner was struck on the left thumb by Mitchell Johnson in the nets," Australian team physio Kevin Sims said.
"While the fracture is very minor, it is not worth taking any risks. The injury will keep him out of at least the next two matches against West Indies. We'll assess how he is progressing after that to determine his availability for the remainder of the series."
The exit of Warner from the West Indies ODIs has meant a call-up for Usman Khawaja, who will fly to Perth to join the team before the first match of the series on Friday.
It also adds another layer of intrigue to Shane Watson's return as a non-bowling batsman. At the same time Warner was having his thumb examined, Watson looked uncomfortable during a brief innings of six from 23 balls for New South Wales against Western Australia in a domestic limited overs match at the SCG.
Struck on the shoulder early on by a short ball from Nathan Coulter-Nile, Watson was then cramped by an inswinger from the young left-armer Joel Paris and squeezed a return catch off bat and pad. Despite his lack of first-class preparation, Watson will now be in line to open the batting in India should Warner's thumb not recover in time.
"He would've liked more runs, there's no question about that," Watson's former Test teammate and now WA batsman Michael Hussey said. "He'll get better and better the more he plays, it's just good to have him back out there playing, I think it's very good for Australian cricket that he's back out there.
"He can play a crucial role for Australia whether it's high in the order or in the middle order. I hope to see him back in there."
Hussey termed Warner's injury "terrible luck". "He's been playing well, I think he's getting a lot of consistency to his game, and that's a big blow for Australia coming into this one-day series for sure," he said. "It's going to give an opportunity for someone else - maybe it's an opportunity for Shane Watson to get back up the top of the order and get some confidence back that way."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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