The next 48 hours will be key in determining whether David Warner will be fit enough to take his place in Australia’s side for the third Test against India in Sydney with his ability in the field as important as what he can do with the bat.
Warner admitted it’s unlikely he will be 100% recovered from his groin injury regardless of how the next few days go. He is conscious of not being a liability to the side despite the eagerness to have him return but feels confident he would be able to manage the batting side of the game. Australia’s next two training sessions at the MCG on Saturday and Sunday will give a clearer indication of where he stands.
“I’ll be doing everything I can to get on that park and play even if that means I’m not 100%,” he said. “It’s about being smart on this occasion. If I feel like I can do my duties, whether it’s standing in the slips cordon, taking catches to my right and left…think that’s where it will determine whether I do play or not.
“I know I can manage the running between wickets, the shot making I have, it’s whether I have that capacity of catching the balls left and right. With Gazza [Nathan Lyon] bowling, am I going to field at first slip or leg slip? I’ve got to be agile enough to make sure I’m taking those chances.
“It will have some restrictions here and there. When you get into the game adrenaline takes over. For me it’s about my speed between wickets, that’s all that matters, it doesn’t matter what shots I can and can’t play. It’s about the drop-and-run, helping the guy at the other end get off strike. They are the things I like to be 100% fit for. In this case I’m most likely not going to be, but I’ll have to work out myself how I’m going to manage that.”
Warner has been doing extensive rehabilitation since suffering the groin injury in the second ODI at the end of November which has included using a hypobaric chamber to increase oxygen intake and cryotherapy, where ice is applied directly to the injured tendon.
“I had a couple of jabs to get me pain free,” he said. “The first two weeks were quite challenging, it was difficult to move around in bed and get in and out the car. When it comes to these tendon issues they hang around for quite a while and it’s quite hard to get through that pain threshold. I’m trying to manage that and we are doing everything we can to fast track that process.”
In Warner’s absence, Australia’s top order has struggled to impose themselves in this series with their run rate uncharacteristically slow although the bowling from both sides has been impressive on surfaces offering more assistance that is often the case. Warner said that batsmen rode a fine line when trying to score freely but said that it was about more than just the shot-making.
“It’s the loud calling, the way your shoulders are back, you are in the bowler’s face, you are trying to unsettle their line and length,” he said. “It has its challenges but sometimes you have to play outside the square and a little bit brave. I’ve always said it from day dot, I’d rather go down swinging than sitting there on the crease. If I’m able to get out there I’ll have that intent as I always have. Applying a bit of pressure there can release the tension up the other end, help your partner out.
“On the flip side of that if they are bowling well you have to respect that and that’s what’s happened in the last two Tests. Batsmen have got into that period of trying to bat time then it’s dictated that run rate. You can’t do anything about if the attack is going well. You’ll have to play a shot somewhere…if you nick off someone says it’s a bad shot, if you hit it for four it’s a great shot. That’s why I love it, I live by the sword, die by the sword when I’m out there with the bat.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.