Perth: David Warner, the Australia opener, has been ruled out of at least the first two ODIs against West Indies after fracturing a thumb during practice at the WACA on Wednesday. Cricket Australia (CA) have called up New South Wales batsman Usman Khwaja as Warner's replacement.
Warner was hit on his left thumb by team-mate Mitchell Johnson and was rushed to hospital for scans to determine the serious of the injury. According to CA, the fracture is not a serious one but it has left the national selectors anxious ahead of Thursday's naming of the squad for next month's Test tour of India.
"While the fracture is very minor, it is not worth taking any risks," said CA physiotherapist Kevin Sims. "The injury will keep him out of at least the next two Commonwealth Bank Series matches against West Indies. We'll assess how he is progressing after that to determine his availability for the remainder of the series."
Australia play five ODIs against West Indies before departing for four Tests in India, the first of which starts in Chennai on February 22. Warner, 26, has been seen as a long-term option at the top of the innings in ODIs and Tests - he averages 44.50 in Tests and 30.37 in 50-over cricket - and being sidelined would seriously disrupt Australia's plans for the future.
Should Warner be ruled out for a lengthy period, the selectors would be forced to look for a replacement opener. The injury-prone Shane Watson has been rested for the first two ODIS against West Indies but is desperate to make a return to the team, and it is foreseeable that he makes a comeback as opener should Warner not be available.
That would also mean a longer run for Test opener Ed Cowan who struggled against South Africa after starting last year's series against the No. 1 team with a century.
Australia play four Tests in India.