India v Australia, 1st Test February 17, 2013

Warner injury a concern for Australia

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Shane Watson may opening the batting in the first Test in Chennai with Ed Cowan after the national selector John Inverarity revealed significant concerns about David Warner's recovery from a fractured thumb five days before the first Test.

Warner is yet to face anything more demanding than throw-downs since his arrival in India, following a broken thumb inflicted by Mitchell Johnson in the WACA ground nets that kept him out of the ODIs against the West Indies. The captain, Michael Clarke has trained freely enough in the latter stages of his recovery from a hamstring strain and is not in any doubt, but Warner's thumb must improve over the next few days to ensure he is fit for the first Test.

"David's thumb has improved in the last couple of days, he wasn't fit enough to play in this game, he had some throw-downs yesterday with a cricket ball, and we're hoping his fitness improves a great deal in the next couple of days so he comes into contention," Inverarity told ABC Radio. "We won't make a decision on that until a few days out from the Test.

"There is some concern with David because he hasn't been able to practice, but Michael had an hour's batting in the nets yesterday and he played beautifully, so I'd say there are very few concerns around Michael because of his experience and the fact he was able to practice."

The injury-enforced absence of Warner would be a major blow to the tourists but, at the same time, a temporary way around the vexing issue of where Watson should bat on his return to the Test side as a non-bowling member of the team.

Numerous influential voices, including those of Ian Chappell and Brett Lee, have been raised in recent days to argue that Cowan should be dropped to make way for Watson. But Clarke and the rest of the selectors have valued Cowan's steady hand at the top, and Matthew Hayden has been one advocate of the left-hander's retention despite a run of scores that have been handy rather than outstanding.

Glenn Maxwells's prospects of a Test match debut in Chennai also rose when Inverarity hinted strongly at the use of three fast bowlers, one spinner and a slow bowling allrounder. As the Australians struggled to dismiss India A in their warmup match, Inverarity said the tourists were still leaning towards a heavy reliance on pace despite the surface at Chennai's Chidambaram Stadium appearing likely to spin sharply.

"The wicket for the Test match is already prepared. We could've played on it today, we could have played on it yesterday or the day before," Inverarity said. "There is not one blade of grass, so you'd suggest it is a wicket for spinners. But with our Australian team I think the strength lies more with the pace bowlers than with the spinners.

"We've got the option of playing two pace bowlers and two spinners, but it'd more likely that we'd go in with three pace bowlers and one spinner, plus some spin support. I don't think it's clouded. We know what we're going to do. The Indian players, of course, are very good players of spin. Yesterday, our spinners didn't bowl well and the Indian batsmen took heavy toll of them, but we're fairly clear in regards what we're going to do in terms of spin bowling in the first Test match."

Maxwell was left out of the team to play in the tourists' final preparatory fixture, but has been groomed for a role in India for more than a month, since he was 12th man in the third Test against Sri Lanka at the SCG. While his offspin has shown signs of improvement across the ODIs against Sri Lanka and the West Indies, Maxwell's batting has been less convincing as a Test match proposition.

Steve Smith is the other notional option as a middle order batsman and spin bowler, though his leg breaks were treated harshly in the tour opener.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • disco_bob on February 19, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    @Meety I can't see them picking your latest team, however if they did, I'd be happy with it, it feels right. The more I think about it the more I agree we need two full time twirly men at least for the first test. With Lyon and Doherty the Indians will be tempted to come at them hard.

  • Meety on February 19, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    @disco_bob on (February 19, 2013, 2:54 GMT) - sorry mate, I can't take you up on that bet (even a cyber bet), as I am pretty sure I just read that Agar is going home today! LOL! I am PREPARED to have a "cyber bet" on this side instead 1. Cowan, 2. Watson, 3. Hughes, 4. Clarke, 5. Wade, 6. Henriques, 7. Johnson, 8. Starc, 9.Siddle, 10. Doherty, 11. Lyon. I think that Doherty will get the nod. I am just assuming that Clarke comes in for Khawaja & the NSP will consider Henriques a better batting option in India than Maxwell, Smith & Khawaja. If I was the NSP & Warner was fit, I would bring Warner in for Henriques, with Watson @ #5 & Wade #6. The 'theory" behind it is that we kill two birds with one stone with this team. On the one hand we have 3 seamers (our strength), & on the other hand we have 2 spinners (an Indian necessity?). I consider Wade good enuff against spin (see ton v WI in spinning conditions).

  • Meety on February 19, 2013, 8:25 GMT

    @mikey76 on (February 18, 2013, 23:50 GMT) - LOL! Stats are the only way any arguement can possibly be made. Otherwise I'll just say that all the Ozzy players "...look the business..." more than your mob. Fact Broad's ave away from home is 43 in England it is 29. Fact the ONLY 2 teams he has done well with the ball against is India & Pakistan & WI. Fact Anderson is ranked BELOW Siddle in the ICC Rankings, FACT Siddle's stats are better than Anderson regardless of any "lean years" he MAY of had. YOU are the one making clown-like statements like "...Anderson is better than anything you have, as is Finn, Tremlett and probably Onions..." when there is ZERO sound supporting evidence. If YOU don't like being shown that you are WRONG, just don't make unsubstantiated comments - easy.

  • deep6321 on February 19, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    i dont understand Maxwell's selection in the squad.But i think Australia has got a very good side & it will be a test for Indians to face their bowling.Indian fast bowling is also looking pretty weak.

  • disco_bob on February 19, 2013, 2:54 GMT

    @Meety, wow, that is a thought provoking team you propose I am impressed by your boldness and I'd be willing to put a tenner on it if the odds were right.

  • disco_bob on February 19, 2013, 2:40 GMT

    Watson, Cowan, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Henriques, Wade, Johnson, Starc, Bird, Lyon

  • Dashgar on February 19, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    I think even if Warner plays he should be down the order at 5. Open with Cowan and Watson as they are our form batsmen so far this tour. All the rest of the team I trust the selectors to pick the right guys.

  • Ozcricketwriter on February 19, 2013, 1:56 GMT

    Sad to think that Henriques may miss out after the good form he has shown in the warm up matches, but if the selectors want 3 seamers, a spinner and a slow bowling all-rounder, then the XI should be: Watson, Cowan, Hughes, Clarke, Khawaja, Maxwell, Wade, Starc, Johnson, Pattinson, Doherty. I would prefer Bird to Doherty and Henriques to Maxwell but I think that this is the team that they may go with. I can't see Siddle being in contention, given his horrific form in India both this tour and the last time he came - sorry Siddle fans. Johnson and Watson should be certainties, given their results in India, both last time and this time, and it seems likely that Doherty has the spinner spot sewn up.

  • andrew-schulz on February 19, 2013, 1:27 GMT

    Auscricketwriter, sometimes you need to look beyond the statistics. (and I don't think you've even looked at them.) You say Siddle has a poor record in India. He has n fact played one Test in India, which was his Test debut. He took 4for 176, which doesn't look great, but he was very close to Australia's best bowler in both innings in a Test where India's batsmen averaged over 60 runs per wicket. An excellent performance in his only Test in India and you say he has a bad record there? Having said that, it does appear difficult to fit him in the side for Chennai. Meety, there is no way they will go with Wade at 5 followed by two bowling all-rounders at 6 and 7.

  • mikey76 on February 18, 2013, 23:50 GMT

    Meety, like most of the clowns on here you are tangled up in stats. Anderson has a high bowling average simply because he had a couple of lean years early in his career. Over the past couple of years he has been the second best fast bowler in the world. Broad has collected five wicket hauls against Australia and South Africa who last time I looked aren't from the sub-continent. Again you bring up stats in regard to our batsmen. Root has hardly put a foot wrong in any format and looks the business as opposed to Khawaja who looks out of his depth. The same could be said for Bairstow who made 90&50 against the champion SA attack when the chips were down. Taylor has an excellent record in first class cricket over a number of seasons, who cares if the Lions are struggling down under right now, its nowhere near a full strength side, purely a developmental squad.