Australia have a nervous day ahead as they sweat on David Warner’s fitness ahead of their World Cup 2019 campaign opener against Afghanistan on Saturday. Warner is said to have pulled out midway from the team’s training session in Bristol with complaints of a stiff glute muscle on the right leg, and was attended to indoors. Head coach Justin Langer later confirmed that Warner was ‘a bit sore’, and a decision on his availability is impending.
“He [Warner] was a bit sore on Wednesday. He’s just a bit sore in his right glute. He is desperate to play, he’d love to play like all 15 players would,” Langer said on Thursday. “He’s jumping out of his skin, his energy is up and he’s laughing a lot which is a good sign. He’s really keen but we’ve got to make sure he can move, particularly in the field.
Warner is due a fitness test on Friday (May 31) that will determine the 32-year-old’s status and availability for the first fixture. Langer expects to get clarity much before the match-day morning, and has conveyed the same to the swashbuckling opener.
“We’ll have a pretty good idea today, how he moves and how he pulls up in the morning,” Langer added. “What I’ve expressed to him is that it’s really important to be fair to the other players as well. We don’t want to get to Saturday morning then make a call with a couple of guys wondering if they are going to play. The earlier the better, he knows that and collectively we’re really strong on that,” Langer said.
With a minimum of nine group stage games to play, and Australia hoping to go a lot further in the tournament, Langer wants to tread cautiously and pick Warner only if he’s fully fit. “We’ve got to make sure we don’t aggravate it early in a long tournament. He will open the first game if he’s fit,” Langer said.
Should Warner miss out, Australia can put their combinations headache at the top of the order on the backburner briefly, and open the innings with Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch, while letting Shaun Marsh bat at No. 3. Marsh slotted in at one-drop in two ODIs in the away series against India without much success but managed scores of 91* and 61 in the series against Pakistan in UAE – both in the lead-up to the World Cup.