New Zealand in Australia 2011-12 November 25, 2011

Five Australia players ruled out of first NZ Test


Shane Watson, Ryan Harris, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Johnson and Pat Cummins will all miss Australia's first Test against New Zealand, leaving the national selectors to fill plenty of gaps ahead of the squad announcement on Saturday.

All five players are carrying injuries and will be unavailable for the national selector John Inverarity and his panel to consider. Watson has a hamstring strain, Marsh a back ailment, Harris a pelvis problem, Johnson an injured foot and Cummins a bruised heel.

"We unfortunately suffered some injuries during the recent Test series against South Africa. With such a short turnaround time between series, five players who were involved in the series will not fully recover in time to play the first Test against New Zealand," Pat Howard, the CA team performance manager, said.

Decisions on the futures of Ricky Ponting and Brad Haddin will be deferred by the injuries, giving the duo a further chance to shore up their spots. Ponting said the volume of injuries reminded him of an ODI tour of India in 2009, when the list of unavailable players touched double figures.

"This is obviously a really testing time for the depth of Australian cricket," Ponting said at the SCG. "A lot of the guys that will be considered [as replacements] have been in and around our squad the last couple of years anyway because we've had a fair share of guys, fast bowlers especially, who have been injured the last little bit. It's something we'll have to cope with.

"With the A game going on at the moment and the Shield game just starting out the back here I'm sure the selectors will be looking long and hard at a lot of those players playing in those couple of games. By the time they're ready to announce the squad for Brisbane, I'm sure we'll have a very competitive XI come Thursday."

While the list of players ruled out reflected the hideously cramped nature of the international schedule in 2011, Ponting said it also had a little to do with the fact the New Zealand series was being followed by a major four-match contest against India.

"That's the way it's been for the last six or seven years in Australian cricket and that's why we've had the turnover of players that we did," Ponting said. "You have a look at the time I was captain. I don't know how many debutants I had compared to what we had the previous 10 years before that but I think that's just international cricket.

"I dont know if it's ever too much but I've said for the last few years you can't fit any more in, it's as simple as that. The international programme is so full and to have what we've just had at that time of year and to come back to an Australian summer that's as busy as it is, I'm sure by the end of the summer we'll have a few more guys that are looking for a bit of a break.

"The management thing around our group is crucial and we have to make sure that we've got all of our guys fit and healthy for when the really big series comes around. There's no doubt after we play New Zealand in the next two Test matches, the next series that we play is a very big one against India."

Marsh and Watson are expected to be some chance of playing in the second Test of the series in Hobart, but the futures of Harris, Johnson and Cummins are less clear. Cummins' heel problem is expected to be given plenty of recovery time as CA is very conscious of not burning out the 18-year-old after his stunning Test debut in South Africa.

"Pat Cummins experienced left heel pain towards the end of the second innings in his debut Test match. He had scans that have cleared him of any serious injury but we don't expect that he will fully recover in time," Alex Kountouris, the Australian team physio, said. "He will be reviewed early next week to determine his workload plan for the summer."

Johnson's foot injury, sustained during the second innings of the Johannesburg Test, has resulted in considerable swelling, and he will consult a foot specialist before plans are made for his recovery.

"His foot was considerably swollen and painful after the game but he is showing early signs of improvement. He will not return to training in time to be fit for the Gabba," Kountouris said. "His return to training and playing will be clearer in coming days after he is assessed by a foot specialist in Perth and the swelling has had a chance to resolve."

Harris is yet to bowl again after missing the second Test due to his pelvis injury, and his recovery will continue to be monitored.

"He is making good progress but has not returned to bowling as yet and is therefore unavailable to play the first Test against New Zealand," Kountouris said. "A decision on his return to training will be made early next week and will determine his return to playing."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Roo on November 28, 2011, 0:42 GMT

    @AidanFX... Agree... most comments about Warner talk about his 20/20 style from 3 years ago... Yes, NSW have lost many good players because they didn't give them a go in their SS squad... But also a problem with how SS is set up - we really need 8-10 teams as population wise Tas, WA, SA & Qld can easily fit into NSW... Maybe 2 teams from NZ like Rugby & Netball...

  • Roo on November 28, 2011, 0:41 GMT

    @Brannavan Ramachandran... "missing our 4 best bowler and two best batsmen"... lol... you are joking aren't you?... Johnson leaks runs & rarely gets a 3for & then mainly tailenders... Marsh has proven OK in just a few Test matches, give him 20 Tests & then bring him up - he is also injury prone & would have played for Aust years ago if not for continuing injuries... Harris is another in the same boat - great when he is 100% fit otherwise useless to team... Cummins will continue to be mothballed at even the slightest injury concern - his bruised heal is very minor & most past bowlers wouldn't even have been bothered to even report it... Watson since becoming VC of Oz has had a form slump & is being ruined physically & mentally by being forced to open the batting...

  • Aidan on November 26, 2011, 7:37 GMT

    @ Neville - You are ignornat of how well Warner has performed in shorter & LONGER forms of the game in recent seasons... He has performed particularly well at Shield level this yr... playing so well as an opener in the Champions League must have also helped his cause greatly. Warner is the next best candidate. Quite frankly Warner may have been available earlier if NSW selectors didn't write him off as just a T20 Specialist so earlier in the piece.

  • kan on November 25, 2011, 22:21 GMT

    Ricky is so stuburn he will never hang his boots on his own, selectors have to take the hard call on his behalf, he is a burden on the team for last 2 years, Australia have been carrying out of form very old Ponting in the side for last 2 years, it is the reason they are down at ranking 4-5, it is time to blood in youth

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2011, 17:32 GMT

    There is no point in bringing new players like David Warner and John Pattinson in the squad... Warner hasn't been a regular in ODIs so what makes CA selectors think he'll be good in test cricket... In my opinion Watson should be replaced by Simon Katich or Phil Jacques, Brad Hodge could come in place of Shaun Marsh, Andrew McDonald in place of Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger in place of Ryan Harris and Ben Hilfenhaus in place of Pat Cummins...

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    This is the price of having too much international cricket in a year. Players will get injured. This isn't going to do any favours to the crowd attendances either, when we have a weakened side, missing our 4 best bowler and two best batsmen. To make matters worse we are playing against the weakest NZ side in 4 decades which is even less appealing to the crowds.

  • Kavin on November 25, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    Where's Bollinger? He's always injured? Looks like he only wants to play for CSK, IPL.

  • david on November 25, 2011, 15:01 GMT

    let me get this right, its NZ in australia we are talking about. the amount of players available to nz 2 the aussies, must be double minimum. so lets not have no doubters of an aussie win. then after they win you tell us of your replacement strength. we all know who will be telling us the usual suspects. dpk

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2011, 14:52 GMT

    Feels upset to hear about Cummins' injury. Hope, it is not either serious or chronic. Keeping him in good health and nurturing him is good for Cricket per se -- not just for Australian Cricket alone.

  • Cleon on November 25, 2011, 13:54 GMT

    Are we forgetting that johnson helped pull or butts out of the last test. So his bowling has been off for awhile a long while he is not getting the wickets he is paid to get but he is not too bad not that expensive and his line was better the last game. His swing was certainly there.

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