Injured opener David Warner is still “having a bit of trouble running at full speed” as he races to be fit in time for the third Vodafone Test against India in two weeks.
Warner has already been ruled out of the Boxing Day Test starting on Saturday and has not yet been declared a certain starter for the third match of the series from January 7, which is scheduled to be played at the SCG but could be moved due to the recent COVID19 outbreak in Sydney.
The left-hander batted in the MCG nets on Wednesday and while coach Justin Langer was happy to see his player back training, he added the opener is still having some discomfort when he tries to move at top pace.
“We’re very hopeful,” Langer said when asked if Warner will be fit for the third Test.
“He batted very well yesterday in the nets, he’s moving well (and) he’s as enthusiastic as ever. He’s got so much energy and passion for the game and he’ll be doing everything possible to get out onto the ground.
“He’s having a bit of trouble running at full speed. When he gets back and feels confident with it, of course he’ll come back into our team. We’ll just monitor him, and fingers crossed he’ll be back.
“We know how dynamic he is, there’s no one more dynamic in the game with his running between the wickets and with the way he fields.
“He wants to make sure he’s 100 per cent fit for that because he gets great energy personally and as a group, we get great energy out of that.”
The uncertainty over Warner’s fitness means Langer and his fellow selectors have so far been spared from making a tough call on who will drop out of the side when the left-hander is fit again.
The return of Warner could see stand-in opener Matthew Wade move back down the order in place of either Travis Head or Cameron Green, but the Tasmanian could drop out of the side altogether if selectors want to stick with Head and Green at No.5 and No.6.
And while Joe Burns, Warner’s regular opening partner, struck an unbeaten half-century last week, a strong performance from Wade as an opener at the MCG this week could leave the Queenslander vulnerable when Warner is fully fit again.
Langer acknowledged Warner’s impending return means there will be selection pressure on his top six batters at the MCG this week, but he added that is nothing out of the ordinary.
“That’s all part of the journey of every individual player,” he said.
“You are literally under the pump every time you play for Australia. Every player is (and) that’s how it should be. It’s so healthy for Australian cricket.
“It’s tough when you’re in the top six batters because you’ve always got people knocking hard on your door to take your spot, so you’ve got to be on your toes all the time.
“Everyone knows where we’re at. These things have a funny way of working themselves out and the guys who are making runs, they’ll keep getting selected. That’s usually the way it works.”
Langer said he continues to be impressed by Green, who made his debut in Adelaide last week after dominating with the bat at domestic level in recent seasons.
Like Wade, Head and Burns, the 21-year-old would be unfortunate to lose his place in the side if he’s left out for Warner’s return, but Langer is in no doubt the allrounder has a long international future ahead of him.
“He’s so calm, that’s what I love about him,” Langer said. “For a young guy he just seems so calm and gets on with his job.
“He’s got a really simple batting technique for a guy who is so tall. Usually, with a lot of very tall batsmen, they are a bit clunky and a bit slow but he is so fluent.
“He is a beautiful player and I’ve always said that you judge the best players in the world by how they play an on-drive and over and over he consistently smacks on-drives back past the bowlers. So, it means his balance is good, he’s watching the ball and playing with the full face of the bat.
“I love his temperament and I love his skill, and so far he is fitting in really well.
“He is at the start of what will hopefully be a very long journey.”
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner
India Test squad: Virat Kohli (c) (first Test only), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj (Cricket Australia)