South Africa in Australia, 2012-13 November 3, 2012

Watson injury scare ahead of Tests

54

Australia's vice-captain Shane Watson was whisked away from New South Wales' Sheffield Shield match against Queensland to hospital for scans on his troublesome left calf and must now be considered in doubt for the first Test against South Africa.

In his first appearance at the bowling crease in a first-class match since the tour of the West Indies in April, Watson delivered only one over before speaking with his state and national captain Michael Clarke and leaving the field.

It soon emerged that he was bothered by a sore left calf, the same muscle he strained during this year's ODI tour of England. A calf ailment had also contributed to Watson missing all of the 2011-12 home Test matches. Medical staff later sent Watson away from the ground to have scans on the injury.

Watson's exit from Allan Border Field continued a fraught round of domestic matches for Australia's Test batsmen, as only Michael Hussey has made any substantial runs while Ricky Ponting was withdrawn from Tasmania's match against South Australia with hamstring tightness.

The close proximity of the Champions League to the first Test of the summer had opened up the possibility of injury disrupting either Australian or South African participants in the Twenty20 event. The visiting batsman Hashim Amla said the adjustment up from the shortest format to the longest was among the more vexing challenges in the post-modern game.

"That element is always a challenge, to go from one format to another," Amla said. "Some guys struggle to do it, some don't struggle to do it, and in managing their body every player has to find what works for him and what doesn't.

"We have medical professionals in our team that guide us along the way. We always take their advice and I'm sure every sportsman takes the advice and tries to stick with it. Everything doesn't go to plan all the time, but you've just got to try to find what works for you and hopefully stick with it."

James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, was adamant that the team performance hierarchy, fitness and medical staff had done all they could to prepare players as best as possible for the forthcoming Tests, admitting that the circumstances created by the CLT20 were not ideal.

"I think people are perfectly entitled to ask questions, but at the same time they should have confidence the people involved are doing everything they can," Sutherland told ABC Radio.

"What we have done in recent times is really co-ordinated the effort between state associations and CA management and medical staff and conditioning staff to ensure that the preparation of players for international cricket is as good as it can be in the circumstances. I think Pat Howard and his team have made some giant strides in that regard."

Data collected by Cricket Australia's team performance wing has demonstrated that players are at considerable risk of injury when they are adjusting back up to first-class and Test cricket from the game's shortest format.

Aware of this, and Watson's injury history, the team performance manager Pat Howard had arranged for him to return home early from the Sydney Sixers' squad in South Africa, the better to give him time to rest and prepare in training for the upward surge in his workload.

There had also been discussions about Watson playing in Sydney grade cricket or for the NSW Futures League team in a match against the ACT in Canberra. It was ultimately decided that he would not take part in either.

But the precautions have been unable to prevent the recurrence of calf trouble, and Wtson's place in the XI for the Gabba Test is now open to question.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • TopC on November 4, 2012, 4:02 GMT

    It's been said before, but bears repeating: Shane Watson should be batting at 5 or 6 and bowling 2nd or 3rd change; then we would see the true extent of his talent. However, he must be "encouraged" to play more 1st class cricket to harden his fragile body; rather than coasting in IPL and other Mickey Mouse T20 rubbish games, where he risks injury without improving his level of endurance.

  • disco_bob on November 4, 2012, 3:59 GMT

    Looks like Watto is out for the first test. Invers challenged Maxwell and he made a big 50 and took two wickets at 2.90 will that be good enough.

  • OneEyedAussie on November 4, 2012, 2:34 GMT

    Although I would love to see it, I am skeptical of Watson's chances of making it through all 6 tests of the Aussie summer without breaking down. It's a shame because he is one of those rare players who averages under 30 with the ball and over 30 with the bat i.e. a captains dream.

  • Chark_attack on November 4, 2012, 2:05 GMT

    @bonobo Hit it on the head he has always had a very good technique even as a junior in the state schoolboy cricket. and the players you named are the guys who should be replacing an injured top order bat its a pity that Katich retired from all Australian first class cricket.

  • tdobbo on November 4, 2012, 1:23 GMT

    I agree with KamranMalik. But its a reflection on the low standard of Aussie cricket that the selectors have no alternatives but to pick a Dads Army team, recycling Ponting and Hussey who are well past their best and should've retired years ago.

  • bonobo on November 4, 2012, 0:27 GMT

    I dont think thats Watsons bowling is related to his inability to convert good starts into big scores. He has as good a technique against the new ball as anyone in the current line up, he is consistent and has a solid averageand has scired his runs against good teams. Maybe he need to reduce his bowling workload to preserve his body, its worth looking how Kallis has revived himself as an impact bowler, working in short spells. I dont think there is any justification in hvaing both Warner and Cowan going in before him and was scpetical about this move. Would any of Katich, Rogers or Jacques look out of place in that top 3, if Watson is injured ?

  • featurewriter on November 3, 2012, 23:37 GMT

    2nd_Slip: Don't know what planet you're on mate. Watson's first-class and test cricket averages with bat and ball make Ian Botham, Freddy Flintoff and other all-rounders of the modern era seem like club cricketers. His form recently has been sublime - and the kind of stuff that we've always hoped he would achieve. If you've ever played cricket - beyond the safety of your backyard - you'd appreciate just how talented a cricketer Watson truly is.

  • NallaBaaba on November 3, 2012, 23:19 GMT

    I think watson can still play as a specialist batsman, which means he don't bowl, but let's see. i think australia should call of tests and all aus batsman should play sheffield shiled. For Warner, i think he is capable of much more, but keeps playing outside offstump. He should stay calm and be patient. Once he gets going, he can score quicker and play big shots. Hope warner plays well.

  • Chark_attack on November 3, 2012, 23:18 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster the problem is not the strain t20's place on the body rather the lack of stress they put a cricketer under by playing t20's bowlers do not need as much endurance as when playing first class cricket which is were the injuries occur because their body's are not used to being put under long the higher workload. you look at bowlers who only played first class and one day matches ten years ago and most of them could bowl all day in any conditions (Michael Kasprowicv was a great example) there is only one way for bowlers to be match fit for longer forms of cricket and that is by regularly bowling long spells which they just don't get in hit and giggle.

  • Marcio on November 3, 2012, 23:16 GMT

    The haters are out in force here. The frustration and bitter disappointment at the pasting the SA team got vs AUS A is really showing through - just before the predicted demolition of the actual Australian team, of course :-) Keep dreamin'...

  • TopC on November 4, 2012, 4:02 GMT

    It's been said before, but bears repeating: Shane Watson should be batting at 5 or 6 and bowling 2nd or 3rd change; then we would see the true extent of his talent. However, he must be "encouraged" to play more 1st class cricket to harden his fragile body; rather than coasting in IPL and other Mickey Mouse T20 rubbish games, where he risks injury without improving his level of endurance.

  • disco_bob on November 4, 2012, 3:59 GMT

    Looks like Watto is out for the first test. Invers challenged Maxwell and he made a big 50 and took two wickets at 2.90 will that be good enough.

  • OneEyedAussie on November 4, 2012, 2:34 GMT

    Although I would love to see it, I am skeptical of Watson's chances of making it through all 6 tests of the Aussie summer without breaking down. It's a shame because he is one of those rare players who averages under 30 with the ball and over 30 with the bat i.e. a captains dream.

  • Chark_attack on November 4, 2012, 2:05 GMT

    @bonobo Hit it on the head he has always had a very good technique even as a junior in the state schoolboy cricket. and the players you named are the guys who should be replacing an injured top order bat its a pity that Katich retired from all Australian first class cricket.

  • tdobbo on November 4, 2012, 1:23 GMT

    I agree with KamranMalik. But its a reflection on the low standard of Aussie cricket that the selectors have no alternatives but to pick a Dads Army team, recycling Ponting and Hussey who are well past their best and should've retired years ago.

  • bonobo on November 4, 2012, 0:27 GMT

    I dont think thats Watsons bowling is related to his inability to convert good starts into big scores. He has as good a technique against the new ball as anyone in the current line up, he is consistent and has a solid averageand has scired his runs against good teams. Maybe he need to reduce his bowling workload to preserve his body, its worth looking how Kallis has revived himself as an impact bowler, working in short spells. I dont think there is any justification in hvaing both Warner and Cowan going in before him and was scpetical about this move. Would any of Katich, Rogers or Jacques look out of place in that top 3, if Watson is injured ?

  • featurewriter on November 3, 2012, 23:37 GMT

    2nd_Slip: Don't know what planet you're on mate. Watson's first-class and test cricket averages with bat and ball make Ian Botham, Freddy Flintoff and other all-rounders of the modern era seem like club cricketers. His form recently has been sublime - and the kind of stuff that we've always hoped he would achieve. If you've ever played cricket - beyond the safety of your backyard - you'd appreciate just how talented a cricketer Watson truly is.

  • NallaBaaba on November 3, 2012, 23:19 GMT

    I think watson can still play as a specialist batsman, which means he don't bowl, but let's see. i think australia should call of tests and all aus batsman should play sheffield shiled. For Warner, i think he is capable of much more, but keeps playing outside offstump. He should stay calm and be patient. Once he gets going, he can score quicker and play big shots. Hope warner plays well.

  • Chark_attack on November 3, 2012, 23:18 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster the problem is not the strain t20's place on the body rather the lack of stress they put a cricketer under by playing t20's bowlers do not need as much endurance as when playing first class cricket which is were the injuries occur because their body's are not used to being put under long the higher workload. you look at bowlers who only played first class and one day matches ten years ago and most of them could bowl all day in any conditions (Michael Kasprowicv was a great example) there is only one way for bowlers to be match fit for longer forms of cricket and that is by regularly bowling long spells which they just don't get in hit and giggle.

  • Marcio on November 3, 2012, 23:16 GMT

    The haters are out in force here. The frustration and bitter disappointment at the pasting the SA team got vs AUS A is really showing through - just before the predicted demolition of the actual Australian team, of course :-) Keep dreamin'...

  • BravoBravo on November 3, 2012, 23:01 GMT

    Not a good news. Watson is a valuable player. My feeling is that AUS is going to win test series against SA with or without Watson.They are the champs and they know how to win. @smith robertson: True that PAK never won a series agaisnt AUS in Australia and it is also true that AUS never won a series against PAK in Pakistan in the same number of decades. Fact of the matter is any team can beat AUS on their day including BD, IND, NZ but only PAK and WI have ability to maul and haul them.

  • 2nd_Slip on November 3, 2012, 22:54 GMT

    Whats the big fuss about Shane Watson anyway!! I mean really, is this what the once mighty Ausies are now made off?? Shane Watson and David Warner are nothing but overated T20 hit and giggle cricketers who shouldnt be playing test cricket anyway. I fancy another 47 all out with 5-15 from Philander in this sereis aswell

  • Rajesh_india_1990 on November 3, 2012, 20:13 GMT

    Shane 'injury' watson is always a pathetic test player..i dont why so much fuss about him..

  • MattyP1979 on November 3, 2012, 19:21 GMT

    What are Aussies made of these days? To be fair to the man I wouldn't want my bog average stats to take a mauling against SA either. Aus were already headed for a beating so it might be uselful to get some excuses ready.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on November 3, 2012, 16:57 GMT

    Big loss to Aus. team if he misses out. Unlike walking wicket 'switch-hit-and-out' Warner, he offers something opening the batting; good slip fielder; can have golden-arm moments bowling... Argue as much as you like about suitable replacements, but no matter who I think Watson's loss disrupts the aura of the team.

  • on November 3, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    Mark Le Bherz ............................. WELL SAID !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Cpt.Meanster on November 3, 2012, 16:45 GMT

    It will be funny to hear criticisms directed towards T20s. In reality tests, ODIs and these first class games take a LOT out of a cricketer's body. So if Shane Watson and Pat Cummins are injured then it could be anything out of the mix. T20 hardly scratches the surface of cricket related injuries. Ask somebody by the name of Mr. Lasith Malinga and he will tell you more. Cheers.

  • on November 3, 2012, 15:15 GMT

    Watson is a very important player for aussies.He's in great form at the moment.If he miss the first match then it will be a big loss for aussies.......

  • WickyRoy.paklover on November 3, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    @SmithRobertson,well it z even funnier that u people dn't realiz that spearhead of ur odi+test batting lineup great mike hussey (my most favorite aussie along gilly) z even eldr than ajmal lolz.what about david hussey,bailey,hadin? R THESE GUYS YOUNGR THAN UMAR AKMAL,ASAD,NASIR,AZHAR? U dn't like pak team its ur issue bt plz never ever compare pak's young talent to bangla.ESPECIALY WHEN UR OWN AUSSIE TEAM Z NO MORE WORLD BEATER

  • Aussasinator on November 3, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    Let me assure you the Aussie Test team will be a lot better off if Ponting and Watson dont play. just see.

  • Porky_PigTheToon on November 3, 2012, 13:02 GMT

    WELL THAT WILL BE QUITE a Big BLOW FOR AUS IF WATSON DOESN'T PLAY. I don't consider him as a wicket-taking bowler in Test Cricket especially against the likes of SA Quality batsmen. But in batting, he is Australia's main weapon and of course a very good slip fielder.

  • on November 3, 2012, 13:00 GMT

    @kamranmalik7 are you serious ???? include shaun marsh ? he has been droped from the WA side he is currently playing grade cricket in perth. and if you payed anny attention to cricket at all you would be aware that ponting is the leading run scorer for this seasons sheild with an average of over 100 and a top score of 162 not out. If the selecters were picking on form he should be second name in the side after the captain and you want him replaced by someone who cannot even make his state side ? pull your head in

  • on November 3, 2012, 12:30 GMT

    @Bryce27687: He is, but the selectors have filled their Tasmanian quota with Hilf, Ponting (who is effectively a New South Welshman now) and Cowan (who is a New South Welshman). He's got about as much chance of being selected as anyone from Queensland.

  • Jaffa79 on November 3, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    First Cummings and now Watson. Wow...these 4 over spells in T20 must be really taking out of these boys! Jeez...man up!

  • Ozcricketwriter on November 3, 2012, 12:16 GMT

    If Watson is ruled out, we have to play Dan Christian. If Ponting is ruled out, David Hussey has to come in.

  • on November 3, 2012, 12:07 GMT

    @WickyRoy.paklover: Funny guy! yeah you're actually right I shall say but Ajmal started his career so late and wasted his early years otherwise who knows what Pakistan would've been like in Cricket shall we say??? he's not getting any younger like most of your players and wasting talent given what Pakistan has is worrying I shall say. Funny Pakistan a team that still hasn't won a series in Australia for God knows how many decades? :'(

  • kamranmalik7 on November 3, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    I think this is the time to say good bye to Ponting and hussy brothers. Australia should include shaun marsh and khwaja. Usman Khwaja should play at no.5 and shaun marsh should open the innings with warner. happy to see Aussies having bulk of fast bowlers...they are really good pacers.

  • Beertjie on November 3, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    Agree with your post @Chark_attack on (November 03 2012, 06:41 AM GMT) that it's just CA being over cautious. Khawaja is the logical replacement in a precarious top 6 (aside from Pup, of course). Great seasons for Burns and Doolan will help address this uncertainty for next season.

  • tdobbo on November 3, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    I agree 100% hhillbumper, aussies are already coming up with lame excuses. They are a deadset rabble, no other way to describe it.

  • on November 3, 2012, 11:24 GMT

    I'm an Australian fan and have to say he won't actually be missed at all in this test series because his record is poor compared to his limited overs success.

  • hhillbumper on November 3, 2012, 11:09 GMT

    guess the Aussies are getting the excuses in early

  • san_yuvi on November 3, 2012, 10:44 GMT

    I would rather switch off my tv without my favorite players(Punter and Watto) Please get well soon.

  • Bryce27687 on November 3, 2012, 9:25 GMT

    Butterworth is ready is he not?

  • Sinhaya on November 3, 2012, 9:13 GMT

    @ravikb, Sri Lanka had great players indeed and they include Muralitharan, Vaas, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena, Thilan Samaraweera, Arjuna Ranatunga, Marvan Atapattu etc. Stop talking nonsense please. How many greats have India produced really??

  • Gordo85 on November 3, 2012, 8:56 GMT

    You may as well rest both Watson and Ponting. Watson to me I would imagine would be too much of a risk.

  • stormy16 on November 3, 2012, 8:35 GMT

    Folks, the unfortunate reality is Watson needs to stop bowling if he wants to stay on the park as a batsman. Time is going by and if he misses too much of this summer that'll make is two summers missing cricket. Its simply not worth is given Aus are looking for quality batters to take over from Ponting and Hussey. With the next generation of batters now really making an impression (yet) Watson will be a key going forward.

  • Dangertroy on November 3, 2012, 8:23 GMT

    I really hope its not serious enough to keep him out of the first test. Someone is going to have to be added to the squad for cover now. I'd like to see Doolan rewarded, he's had a ripping start to the season. Maxwell however has already been highlighted, and he would give us a batting and bowling option. He made sixty odd against south africans and picked up the wicket of an opener, so who knows? We did fine last year without Watson, but we're not playing India this time. He lets the squad be a bit more flexible, as he plays that fourth seamer role, while still being a top 6 batsman.

  • GeoffreysMother on November 3, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    Champions League - what a great competition eh. Perhaps we could have the Shane Warne Poker League instead next year; save on injuries, just as meaningful and possibly watched by more people.

    Good luck to Punter though. I didn't used to like him much - but he's a guy who refuses to give in and prepared to put the hard yards in for Tasmania in front of two old men and a wallaby to prove he is still good enough. You have to admire him.

  • on November 3, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    Watson and Ryan Harris spend more time on the bench.

  • Chark_attack on November 3, 2012, 6:41 GMT

    @meety I agree with you there i think for the most part its just CA being over cautious. Especially in pontings and watsons case. although with watsons history of calf problems it is concerning.

  • Heisenburg on November 3, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    NOOOOO! My favourite player is gone :( If he misses the 1st test this could be a chance for Doolan to make his debut, he's been is great form and just made 161 not out against the South African bowlers.

  • on November 3, 2012, 5:34 GMT

    Hope he and Ponting get well soon .....

  • ravikb on November 3, 2012, 5:32 GMT

    @Sinhaya, you are not a fan of many great players. I know it is because your team never had any great players.

  • WickyRoy.paklover on November 3, 2012, 5:18 GMT

    Not a great news for a side which z already short of young batng talent

  • Rajeev129 on November 3, 2012, 5:04 GMT

    He is a big asset for any team in any format of game. But at his age, given the previous injury record he must think about his test future. He has the experience to control the runs or picking wickets in shorter forms. But bowling in tests will be the real challenge ahead of him. Michael Clarke should able to assess his strength and weakness in longer forms. Thus he can either be a specialist batsman or a bowler to bowl with 50-60 overs old, since he has the ability to reverse swing in cloudy conditions.

  • jonesy2 on November 3, 2012, 5:00 GMT

    im so angry with fate. he better be fine.

  • on November 3, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    First it was not managing the workload of bowlers which led to injuries. Now it is managing the workload of batsmen. Cummins is a bowler, Ponting is a batsmen, but watson is both which could be a double loss.

  • JiminyCricketOz on November 3, 2012, 4:43 GMT

    Really hope to see both teams fielding full strength teams throughout this series. Injuries are moth holes in the great tapestry of the game we love.

  • Aussie_Cricket on November 3, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    It's like listening to Boned by 12th man ATM. Except instead it's us with injury problems and IT'S ACTUALLY HAPPENING. At this rate we'll need Slats to come out of retirement to bat for us.

  • on November 3, 2012, 4:38 GMT

    what can you expect? Good cricketers of this age play well for their franchises and shorter formats and when the real deal comes, they start complaining of injuries.

  • on November 3, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    Watto! Please get well soon

  • Meety on November 3, 2012, 3:24 GMT

    Oh God! I'm over injury reports!!!!

  • Sinhaya on November 3, 2012, 3:15 GMT

    Oh no Watto! Please get well soon. I love to see you bat in the tests. This type of injuries are worrisome. As a Lankan, I am extremely doubtful about Angelo Mathews being given captaincy given his injury concerns. I wish you a speedy recovery. You are also a favorite Aussie cricketer of mine along with Clarkey, Cummins, Starc, Harris and Hussey. I am not a Ponting fan.

  • Green_seamer on November 3, 2012, 2:56 GMT

    If calling him back from CLT20 does not prevent his injury , then I don't know what will.... Shane has been bowling a lot without taking much rest & is paying the price for it... Now, Shane Watson has to take a couple of days off before he can start again or it will become worse.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Green_seamer on November 3, 2012, 2:56 GMT

    If calling him back from CLT20 does not prevent his injury , then I don't know what will.... Shane has been bowling a lot without taking much rest & is paying the price for it... Now, Shane Watson has to take a couple of days off before he can start again or it will become worse.

  • Sinhaya on November 3, 2012, 3:15 GMT

    Oh no Watto! Please get well soon. I love to see you bat in the tests. This type of injuries are worrisome. As a Lankan, I am extremely doubtful about Angelo Mathews being given captaincy given his injury concerns. I wish you a speedy recovery. You are also a favorite Aussie cricketer of mine along with Clarkey, Cummins, Starc, Harris and Hussey. I am not a Ponting fan.

  • Meety on November 3, 2012, 3:24 GMT

    Oh God! I'm over injury reports!!!!

  • on November 3, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    Watto! Please get well soon

  • on November 3, 2012, 4:38 GMT

    what can you expect? Good cricketers of this age play well for their franchises and shorter formats and when the real deal comes, they start complaining of injuries.

  • Aussie_Cricket on November 3, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    It's like listening to Boned by 12th man ATM. Except instead it's us with injury problems and IT'S ACTUALLY HAPPENING. At this rate we'll need Slats to come out of retirement to bat for us.

  • JiminyCricketOz on November 3, 2012, 4:43 GMT

    Really hope to see both teams fielding full strength teams throughout this series. Injuries are moth holes in the great tapestry of the game we love.

  • on November 3, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    First it was not managing the workload of bowlers which led to injuries. Now it is managing the workload of batsmen. Cummins is a bowler, Ponting is a batsmen, but watson is both which could be a double loss.

  • jonesy2 on November 3, 2012, 5:00 GMT

    im so angry with fate. he better be fine.

  • Rajeev129 on November 3, 2012, 5:04 GMT

    He is a big asset for any team in any format of game. But at his age, given the previous injury record he must think about his test future. He has the experience to control the runs or picking wickets in shorter forms. But bowling in tests will be the real challenge ahead of him. Michael Clarke should able to assess his strength and weakness in longer forms. Thus he can either be a specialist batsman or a bowler to bowl with 50-60 overs old, since he has the ability to reverse swing in cloudy conditions.