Australia face a shortage at the top of the order after David Warner’s injured groin ruled him out of the first Test against India in Adelaide. Just a day after likely debutant Will Pucovski received a blow to the head in a tour match and was left in serious doubt, Warner’s fate was sealed on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old confirmed he would not recover in time from the groin injury suffered in an ODI late last month, instead switching his focus towards Boxing Day. “I feel I have made great progress in a short amount of time and it’s best for me to stay here in Sydney to continue working on getting back to full fitness,” Warner said.
“The injury feels a lot better, but I need to be able to satisfy in my own mind and to my team-mates that it is 100% ready for Test match conditions. That includes running between the wickets and being agile in the field. Right now I feel I am short of being able to play at peak fitness and another 10 days will make a difference.”
Warner’s news came as Australia prepared to finalise their plans for the next week in the lead up to the Test. All eyes will remain on Pucovski and how he recovers from his latest head knock, with the 22-year-old showing signs of mild concussion on Tuesday afternoon.
His blow to the helmet in the drawn match against the Indians almost immediately ruled him out of this weekend’s last warm-up game, but his availability has not been determined beyond that.
Regardless though, the situation is a difficult one for the talented right-hander. The latest bout of concussion was his ninth and came just nine days out from what would have been a certain Test debut now Warner has been ruled out.
Marcus Harris is poised to be added to Australia’s Test squad as cover, while Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja could be other options.
There remain issues at the other end given Joe Burns’ poor form. Burns has scored more than 11 just once in seven first-class innings this summer, for an average of just 8.71. His scores of four and zero in the Australia A match against the tourists would have done little to fill the selectors with faith.
Meanwhile, Mitchell Starc remains away on compassionate grounds, although at this stage there is no suggestion he could miss the Test series opener. Josh Hazlewood sat out the final two games of the Twenty20 series with back soreness but is also not in any doubt for the Test.
Selectors must also decide whether to give Cameron Green a chance in the middle order in the first Test after he hit 125 not out in the tour match and took two wickets.