Australia must pick Steve Smith and David Warner for the World Cup regardless of how surgery affects their injured elbows, says Ian Healy.
Australia must pick Steve Smith and David Warner for the World Cup regardless of how surgery affects their injured elbows, says Ian Healy.

Legend’s grim Aussie WC warning

Australia must pick Steve Smith and David Warner for the World Cup regardless of how injured elbows will hinder their preparation, says Ian Healy.

The suspended duo were both curiously struck with similar elbow injuries while playing in the Bangladesh Premier League this month.

Smith went under the knife last week to have a ligament in his right elbow repaired, and is expected to be in a brace for at least five more weeks. A return date for the former Australia captain will only be determined once the brace comes off.

Warner is understood to have suffered his elbow injury while clubbing an unbeaten 61 off 36 balls - while switch-hitting - for Sylhet Sixers against Chris Gayle's Rangpur Raiders.

Foxsports.com.au revealed he will be sent home on Monday to receive a clean out of his elbow, and is expected to be out of action for up to a month afterwards. He may still play in the BPL before Monday.

Former Australia wicketkeeper Healy said it was bizarre to see the star batsmen suffer similar injuries within a week of each other.

"What is it with elbows in Bangladesh? I've never heard of an elbow injury to any of our batters, let alone two," he told foxsports.com.au.

Although Smith's and Warner's exact training methods away from the Australian national team are unknown, it's possible their injuries are related to an extended period away from elite competition, physiotherapist Matthew Nowosilskyj from PhysioWest told foxsports.com.au.

"Given their time away from the game and return to a more intense, competitive environment, it's possible that for both of them the change or increase in load was a trigger," Nowosilskyj said.

"Doing gym work such as weights and cardio can condition you so far, but sports specific, functional match fitness is another thing."

Cricketers are at an increased risk of developing elbow injuries due to the physical demands and repetitive nature of skills like throwing and bowling.

"As in baseball, cricketers are susceptible to elbow injuries through overarm throwing when fielding, as well as with different batting techniques or shots," Nowosilskyj said.

"For most, it is the repetitive nature of these actions that when overloaded can cause unnecessary strain on the soft tissue around the elbow, leading to injury."

Both players are expected to be fit before the World Cup kickstarts in late May, however, their preparations for the tournament will be hindered.

Healy believes Australia will have no choice but to put them on the plane to the UK regardless.

"Australia won't be in the top four favourites without David Warner and Steve Smith. They will be England, India, South Africa and Pakistan," Healy said.

"Their preparations will be interrupted now obviously, although it remains to be seen how debilitating the injuries are and it's still a long time until the World Cup.

"Whether Smith and Warner are fully fit or slightly inhibited with their throwing, I'm still selecting them for the World Cup."

Healy added that he would like to see the duo participate first in the Indian Premier League, which starts in late March during the last week of their ball-tampering suspensions. The competition runs until May 12, before the World Cup starts on May 30.

Australia typically heads into the event as one of the favourites, having lifted the cup five times. However, the nation is yet to win consecutive ODI fixtures since January 2017.

The ongoing ODI struggles - combined with the unknown of how Smith and Warner will play on return - leaves Australia with the prospect of heading into the tournament as underdogs.

It's a title the team has overcome before - most notably in 1987 when it claimed an unlikely victory on the subcontinent under Allan Border's captaincy.

Healy said that team provided a lesson Australia's current crop will need to take note of.

"We need to learn from what the Australian team in 1987 did," he said. "They were absolute outsiders who won the cup. It can be done."

News Corp Australia


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