Australia in India 2012-13 February 19, 2013

Recovering Warner faces quicks in Australian nets


David Warner faced pace bowling in the nets for the first time on Australia's tour of India on Tuesday as he aims to prove his fitness ahead of the first Test in Chennai, starting on Friday. Warner's recovery from a fractured thumb is the real injury concern for the Australians in the lead-up to the Test and his availability will also have a knock-on effect on the rest of the batting order.

If Warner does not play, Shane Watson will return to the Test team as an opener alongside Ed Cowan but if Warner is fit, as expected, the likely scenario will involve the continuation of the Cowan-Warner opening combination with Watson to bat at No.4. Watson has made no secret of his desire to face the new ball in Test cricket and his innings of 84 and 60 opening in tour match against India A strengthened his case.

But Cowan has also batted well so far on this trip, scoring 58, 40 and 53 in the two tour games, and Australia would be reluctant to split up an opening pair that has been the best performing in world cricket for the past 14 months. Australia's coach Mickey Arthur said it was too early to determine whether Warner would be fit for the Chennai Test, but he said he had been impressed by the way Cowan handled spin during the warm-up outings.

"We just want to see how Davey Warner comes up over the next day or two," Arthur said in Chennai ahead of Australia's training session on Tuesday. "It's critical that he trains well over the next day or two to play. I'm pretty sure and confident he'll come through but he hasn't faced any quicks yet. He's been doing a lot of batting against spin which has been fantastic. He hasn't faced pace bowling - that's the only concern - but he ticks that box today.

"Ed has come out of these practice games with his head held high. He's had a good method against the spin and he's played exceptionally well. [Opening with Watson and Warner] would be a tough call but that's something we have to only weigh up once Davey Warner is fit or not fit."

Watson's strength against the fast bowlers is often cited as a reason for him to move back to the top of the order but he is also one of Australia's most experienced campaigners in India. In 14 Test and ODI appearances against India in India, he has averaged 40.63 with the bat and Arthur said with the Chennai pitch expected to offer significant turn, selecting a largely untried middle order in such conditions would be risky.

"I think Watto's a class player so wherever Watto fits in I think he adds value," Arthur said. "Potentially through the middle is going to be a real tough time to bat, so you want your most seasoned campaigners in that area.

"We've got to look again and see what we think is going to be the best possible way of winning. That's the primary focus for us, how are we going to beat India in India. We've got to look at our best possible combination to do that. I do think though that we've just come off a series where we've been Sri Lanka 3-0 - do those players get first opportunity? I don't know. That's something that we'll have sorted out by the end of today."

The other major question surrounds the make-up of Australia's attack and the likely inclusion of an allrounder to offer a fifth bowling option. The seamer Moises Henriques strengthened his case with 4 for 12, including three top-order wickets, in the first of the two warm-up games. He found some reverse swing, which will be key if the pitch deteriorates, and also made a useful 33 in the second game.

Henriques appears to have the edge over the offspinning allrounder Glenn Maxwell, who took 1 for 20 from four overs in the first warm-up match, in which he also scored a first-innings duck, and did not play the second game. Arthur said Australia would not be tempted to name a spin-heavy team if they felt their pace options provided them with greater wicket-taking potential.

"Moises has done everything right to possibly get a Test match here," Arthur said. "We've chatted at length about it. We'll consider everything before we get the team out. But Moises has certainly done very well in these games. He's bowled exceptionally well I thought. The way he batted the other day was exactly as we want our batters to play. You've got to play with that intent here.

"We've got to look at what our best opportunity is to take 20 wickets. Maxie has worked extremely hard. I think Maxie has got a huge future. We have to weigh that up. There's probably one allrounder position in our team that's up for grabs. We've got to then determine is it the allrounder that can give us reverse swing or is it the allrounder that can give us a little bit of handy offspin?"

The frontline spinners Nathan Lyon and Xavier Doherty, and the part-timer Steven Smith were bowling in the nets at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday but the young left-armer Ashton Agar was not with the group. Although there was a chance Agar, who was with the group to gain experience by playing in the tour games, would be kept on for the Tests, he has been released from the touring party and has flown home to Perth.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harmon on February 20, 2013, 6:10 GMT


    I had said I guess he would get at least 1 100. It means I am also guessing he may get more.

    Players like Warner are not essentially for long innings. If they get those then great but generally speaking, they are like nitro boosts. They may get you a rapid fire 80 or 70 or even a quick 50. That will be great to demoralize the bowlers, make the other captain change his plans quickly, give his team an acceleration and to get a grip on the session if not on the innings/match/series.

    Ofc you need someone to play like Cook who can take full usage of Warner's burst to build a big score for the team. You need players of both kind to get the max possible output. Having only one of them would mean either too turtle an innings that lasted far too long or too much height in the run rate but little distance for the scoreline.

  • Randolph on February 19, 2013, 23:47 GMT

    The most destructive batsman in world cricket. Makes the South African KP look like his fellow countryman trott

  • j on February 19, 2013, 23:15 GMT

    Australia's job would be much easier if they could find just a single spinner anywhere in the country. There really should be a search put out for one. Perhaps it could be made into a reality tv show, where a camera crew finds an up-and-coming player, films him playing a match, and gets him plucked from obscurity.....there again they could just bring back Nathan Hauritz...

  • david on February 19, 2013, 20:11 GMT

    harmony111 if hes that good and gets 1 century in a 4 test series and hes an opener you do not set the bar very high. at the end of the series india would take that every time. he needs to score like cook in that his 100s go on and win the series. warner is a T20 / odi player at best and a swing from the hips player in tests who if its his day could come off, his best 100 was against NZ when they lost and all around him faltered and in that innings he could have been out 1/2 a dozen times.

  • disco on February 19, 2013, 18:10 GMT

    @dunger.bob, Khawaja is going to replace Warner and Henriques, I can see why people don't want him in the team because we'd only be playing with 10 men.

    Siddle didn't find a way in Adelaide though did he and if the going gets tough in India you can be sure that they have someone who knows how to stonewall at home. I agree with Bird but Johnson MUST play, surely. So it's Birdy for Sidds in my book. For the first match anyway, Siddle is a good man to have in reserve though.

  • Alex on February 19, 2013, 17:29 GMT

    Aus need to start well, if we lose the first test it will be very hard to turn it around. Warner has been one of the few plus points in our batting over the last 15 months. The only thing is that he has only played 3 tests outside Aus on the slow tracks of WI and he struggled. Seems to me as if Arthur has pretty much said Henriques will play instead of Maxwell as the all rounder. Although i think Wade at 6 and Henriques at 7 seems a bit short to me.

  • Mashuq on February 19, 2013, 16:21 GMT

    Mostly agree @ravi_hari on (February 19, 2013, 8:55 GMT). This first test will be crucial. But Clarke's hamstring will likely keep him out of a test if he risks it by bowling. For those who want both Lyon and Maxwell as spinners, what possible value can the big show with HIS offies that Lyon doesn't already offer? And so why him rather than Henriques to debut given their form in India so far? @HansonKoch on (February 19, 2013, 9:34 GMT) Maybe they can send Chris Rogers over when Watson returns on paternity leave. @Gordo85 on (February 19, 2013, 11:29) It was Ponting who did "not like the guy for some unknown reason." After we lose this series those muppets on the NSP (ie Invers + Arthur) will 'blood' new failures in England. Talk about stupid!

  • Bryn on February 19, 2013, 15:09 GMT

    and they should play dave even if he isnt quite 100%, he could tonk a 100 ball double ton with just his right hand if he needed to..

  • chris on February 19, 2013, 14:10 GMT

    ok, ill add my 2 cents.

    Cowan, Warner, hughes, clarke, watson, wade, henriques, johnson, siddle, patenson, lyon....

    Clarke to 4, johnson bowling well and as success and experience in india, cant go past Henriques bowling in the warm up, seems hes got the indian wickets down already.

    Lets see what happens.

  • Mariam on February 19, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    @dunger.bob good points mate, i am a big Khawaja fan but i don't think i would leave Warner out if he is fit to go. Ideally reading all the comments and from what i have seen in the warm ups i think its best for us to go with 6 specialist batsman with Khawaja at 6 but don't think that will happen. Either way i think Watson at 4 will struggle as he will be up against spin from ball 1 and we will once again rethink our batting lineup. Cowan got runs in the warm up matches but they came against medium pacers, the Indians will throw spin at us earlier so Cowan will have to prove himself which i am not sure he can. But may the best man get the opening slot.