Warner confident of playing first Test
David Warner is preparing to bat with a splint - and through pain - in the first Test in Chennai as he continues his recovery from a fractured thumb. Warner faced pace bowling in the nets on Tuesday and was due to take part in a full fielding drill on Wednesday in what was effectively the final hurdle he needed to clear to prove his fitness after sitting out of cricket since he was struck on the thumb by Mitchell Johnson in the WACA nets late last month.
Warner suffered a crack in the joint and he expects to feel pain and have limited movement in the thumb for some time, but that is unlikely to keep him off the field. Warner said only "a proper injury", one that stopped him from running, fielding or throwing, would keep him out of Test cricket and he said he was prepared to put up with the pain he was enduring in the thumb to play for his country.
"I am very confident of playing," Warner said in Chennai. "I have had four long days of training. I have been hitting for an hour each session to get a feel of hitting the ball and putting myself under fatigue to see if I will get any pain as I go on. I have iced it every time after training. It has been sore, yes, but that's what is going to happen with a break.
"They said to me initially three to four weeks, it's now coming up to the end of the third week and it is still pretty sore. I am having a full training session in the field [on Wednesday] so I will know then 100 percent if I can catch balls. I caught some balls at 50 percent and felt no pain at all. I have a splint that I can use when I'm in the field, which protects the thumb and while I'm batting. At this present time, I am 100 percent ready to go."
Warner is well aware that if he plays in Chennai, it will not be a pain-free experience. Although India are likely to use a spin-heavy attack, Warner will still need to face Ishant Sharma with the new ball and he is relying on his splint to help protect him from any further damage from rising deliveries.
"There is a rubber piece which sits at the end of the thumb, I have a guard that sits halfway underneath and covers the top part so if I get hit, it gets protected," he said. "I got hit yesterday in the nets on it by a spinner. It was a bit painful but I'm all right. I have a nice hard plastic case as well on the outside so touch wood I don't get hit but, if I do, I will be right."
Provided Warner gets through the new ball, much of his work in this Test is likely to be against spin, with India considering including three slow men on a dry pitch expected to take plenty of turn. Despite having missed both the warm-up matches, Warner is confident he has the game to succeed against spin in Indian conditions.
"It's important to either get down the wicket or get real deep in your crease," Warner said. "If you can put them off their game, then you know you're in for a good day. My game is to be decisive - either go forward or go back. If I'm caught in between, that's where my downfall is. I feel my game is better where I'm putting the pressure on the bowler. You've got to show intent, try and look to score, but that doesn't mean scoring off every ball. You have to respect the good balls, and when the ball is there to be hit, use your feet."
One of his foes in the Indian spin department could be Harbhajan Singh, who in past series has riled the Australians with his chat on and off the field, and could be set to play his 100th Test in Chennai. Warner, who is arguably the most verbal of the current batch of Australians on the field, said he hoped he could use his bat to end any trash talk.
"I don't think there will be much chirp," Warner said. "I think that we're all good mates off the field. I think the IPL has set a good balance between all the nations, because everyone has played with each other in different IPL franchises. When we we're on the field we're very competitive. But there is a line there that no one ever crosses.
"I know you're going to get a little bit of banter from certain people but you're going to have to learn to cop that and that's how it is. We dish it out at home, we've got to be prepared to take it. Come game one, you've got your normal culprits as usual ... we all know who they are. They'll come out and start firing but you know what - it will only last probably half an hour if you get on top of them."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here