The suspense over David Warner’s availability for the first cricket Test against India has not ended, but Australian coach Mickey Arthur is “pretty sure” that the explosive opener will come through fit for the match starting here on Friday.
Warner did not play any of the two practice matches that concluded here due to a thumb injury and there are significant concerns about whether he would play in the opening Test.
“We just want to see how Davey Warner comes up over the next day or two. 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 of the fast bowlers yet,” Arthur said ahead of Australia’s training session here on Tuesday.
If Warner fails the fitness test, all-rounder Shane Watson is likely to be promoted to the opener’s slot to partner Ed Cowan.
Arthur was all praise for Cowan, who made scores of 58, 40 and 53 in the two practice games. “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 weigh up once Davey Warner is fit or not fit,” he said.
Arthur said being a seasoned campaigner Watson would be needed in the middle-order, which is relatively inexperienced. “I think Watto’s a class player so wherever Watto fits in I think he adds value,” Arthur said.
Arthur was reluctant to divulge details of Australia’s possible line-up for the match. “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,” he said.
“I do think though that we’ve just come off a series where we’ve beaten 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,” he added.
Arthur, however, said that seamer Moises Henriques has a better chance of being picked than all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who was the only million-dollar buy of this year’s IPL players’ auction. Henriques made his case with a haul of 4 for 12 in the first of the two warm-up games.
“Moises has done everything right to possibly get a Test match here,” Arthur said. “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,” he explained.
But Arthur said the dilemma over seam or spin is not entirely over as of now. “We’ve got to look at the best resources to take 20 wickets. Maxie has worked extremely hard. I think Maxie has got a huge future. We have to weigh that up,” he said. “There’s probably one all-rounder position in our team that’s up for grabs. We’ve got to then determine is it the all-rounder that can give us reverse swing or is it the all-rounder that can give us a little bit of handy off-spin?” he wondered.