Nic Savage from Fox Sports
McDonald: ‘Threw the game away!’
Australia’s selection state of play has gotten even more confusing with confirmation David Warner has been ruled out of the final two Tests of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy due to injury.
The 36-year-old was withdrawn from last week’s Delhi Test against India after copping a blow to the helmet in the first innings, replaced by concussion substitute Matthew Renshaw.
The veteran opener also sustained a hairline fracture in his elbow, putting him under an injury cloud ahead of the third Test at Holkar Cricket Stadium, which gets underway on March 1.
On Tuesday afternoon, Cricket Australia confirmed that Warner had been ruled out of the remainder of the Test tour India and would return home.
“After further assessment, he will require a period of rehabilitation which will preclude any further involvement in the remainder of the Test series,” the CA statement said.
“It is currently anticipated that he will return to India for the three One-Day Internationals which follow the Test Series.”
According to a News Corp report, West Australian opener Cameron Bancroft could be flown to India as an injury replacement for Warner.
Meanwhile, Travis Head is the leading candidate to join Usman Khawaja at the top of the order for the Indore Test.
The swashbuckling left-hander, who was dropped for the series opener in Nagpur, smacked a belligerent 43 in the second innings in Delhi to help put Australia in a commanding position at stumps on day two — it was only the third time Head had opened the batting in 256 first-class knocks.
“If Dave’s unavailable, (Head opening) would make perfect sense,” McDonald told reporters on Monday.
“We did discuss before coming over here that if we were to lose an opening batter that Trav would be one we’d look to put up there. We feel in the subcontinental conditions that he can get off to the fast starts which he showed.
“We don’t see (Head) as an opener in all conditions, more subcontinental and in other conditions back to the middle order.”
Travis Head of Australia. Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images
India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy on Sunday after defeating Australia by six wickets in Delhi, with the visitors suffering a catastrophic collapse of 8-28 in the second innings at Arun Jaitley Stadium.
Cameron Green, who missed the first two Tests against India with a finger injury, is expected to return for the Indore Test and bat in the middle order.
The West Australian has previous success batting in the subcontinent, named Player of the Match after scoring a crucial 77 against Sri Lanka in Galle last year, while he also serves as a handy fifth bowling option.
“(Green) had the setback in Bangalore, a little setback batting in Bangalore where he had some jarring and there was a fair bit of discomfort in that finger. If he didn’t have that, I think the second Test was real,” McDonald explained.
“But it probably just delayed it those few days. And we contemplated him as a concussion sub as well. So that was another discussion. But we felt like if he wasn’t right to go at the start then what was a couple of days. We’re better off loading up for the third Test match and in a good frame of mind.”
Green will presumably replace Renshaw, who has registered scores of 0, 2 and 2 in the series to date, while Peter Handscomb is expected to retain his spot in the starting XI following his classy 72 not out in Delhi.
Australian captain Pat Cummins flew home to Sydney after the Delhi Test due to a private family matter, but the 29-year-old is expected to return ahead of the third Test, which gets underway in eight days.
However, if Cummins were to miss the Indore Test, Steve Smith would be available to lead the side in his absence, while pace bowlers Mitchell Starc and Scott Boland are on standby if required.
Starc would be the preferred backup seam option due to his prior Test experience in India and the footmarks he creates outside the right-hander’s off stump for Nathan Lyon to target.
Unsurprisingly, the Indore wicket is predicted to turn, meaning Australia could be tempted to retain Matthew Kuhenmann for third Test.
Josh Hazlewood has unfortunately been ruled out of the India tour with an Achilles complaint that sidelined him for the first two Tests, while young spinner Todd Murphy has been nursing a minor side injury.
“(Murphy) had a slight niggle in the side,” McDonald said.
“It looks as though the time frame between now and the next Test should be enough to resolve that.
“So he’ll have not a test but he’ll have a good workout two days before … it looks good.”
If Murphy was ruled out of the third Test, it would open the door for Mitchell Swepson to play his first international match since October.
The Queensland leg-spinner flew home before the Delhi Test for the birth of his child but has since rejoined the Australian squad in India.
West Australian quick Lance Morris and left-arm spinner Ashton Agar could be sent home to play Sheffield Shield cricket if Australia decided they weren’t required for the final two Tests against India.
“We’re working through that. It won’t be form as such but there’s cricket going on back home,” McDonald said.
“And with a few players now becoming fit and available, are we carrying too many? That’s probably a question. So we’ve got to be clear on what we want to achieve in the next two Test matches in terms of the structure of the team. Once we get our heads around that, there’s an opportunity for players to be playing cricket back home and we value that.”
Australia will lose its ICC No. 1 Test team ranking if India goes 3-0 up in Indore, while the side’s spot in the World Test Championship final would be in jeopardy if the hosts secure a 4-0 whitewash.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Coverpage’s editorial stance