South Africa in Australia 2012-13 November 5, 2012

Watson ruled out of first Test, Quiney to debut


The Victoria batsman Rob Quiney will make his Test debut against South Africa at the Gabba on Friday after Shane Watson was ruled out due to a calf injury. Watson suffered the problem while bowling for New South Wales in their Sheffield Shield match against Queensland on Saturday and although it will not heal by this Friday, Australia's coach Mickey Arthur is hopeful Watson will be able to play as an allrounder in the second Test at the Adelaide Oval.

"Shane Watson won't play the first Test match. He did an assessment this morning. We've ruled him out," Arthur said in Brisbane on Monday. "We're hoping that he will play unrestricted in the second Test match at the Adelaide Oval. That means Rob Quiney makes his debut this week against South Africa.

"We're ruling him out now because we think he won't be fit enough come Friday. We wanted to be really decisive. We didn't want this to outplay the whole week. We wanted to make a decisive decision pretty early so we could give some real clarity to the team. I think we've done that. Unfortunately Shane misses out."

Quiney will bat at No.3 in a direct swap for Watson, who was unable to play any part in Australia's home Tests last summer due to calf and hamstring problems. Watson has two and a half weeks to prove his fitness for the second Test in Adelaide and while Arthur believes there is a good chance he will be available for that match, he was confident Australia had enough depth to cover Watson's absence in the battle for the No.1 Test ranking.

"Last year we won 4-0 against India, Shane Watson wasn't part of that side over the summer," he said. "We're relaxed, we're calm. I think the team is all in a really good space. We're comfortable that we have the players, we have the cover."

There was also some good news for the Australians on Monday, with Ricky Ponting declared a near-certainty to play after withdrawing from Tasmania's Sheffield Shield game on Friday due to hamstring soreness. But Watson's absence will throw out the balance in Australia's side, depriving Michael Clarke of a valuable fourth seam-bowling option.

Although that could have encouraged the selectors to lean towards including four specialist fast bowlers and relying on Clarke for some overs of spin, Arthur said after discussing the pitch with the Gabba curator Kevin Mitchell on Monday it was likely the offspinner Nathan Lyon would play.

Lyon has not enjoyed his finest form for South Australia over the past few weeks, collecting six wickets at the inflated average of 68, but he should enjoying returning to the Gabba after he took seven wickets there in last year's Test against New Zealand. Arthur said although Lyon might need a confidence boost ahead of the Test, he believed he would play a significant role against the South Africans.

"We've still got to go and see what the wicket delivers for us," Arthur said. "Michael, myself and [team performance manager] Pat Howard had a meeting this morning with the curator. We're pretty confident we're going to get a very, very good Gabba wicket, which increases the likelihood of us playing a spinner.

"We've never ever doubted Nathan's ability. We're hoping that when he comes into this environment, and I know South Australia have done some very good work with him… he gets the lift that he needs. We're backing Nathan Lyon at the moment. Michael, myself and the selection panel believe that Nathan Lyon is our best spinner and Nathan Lyon will be our best spinner for a long period of time. We want to give him that confidence and back him in."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • rob on November 8, 2012, 3:04 GMT

    @ anshu.s on (November 06 2012, 08:43 AM GMT); What you say is true enough, but I can't see where the ambiguity is. Australia's plan is simple. They want to return to the no. 1 ranking in all forms of the game and they have a shot right now at the Test crown (amazingly). Given that Watson is one of our most valuable players I can see the wisdom in giving him one first class game before the series opener. The fact that he got injured is beside the point. @ zenboomerang on (November 06 2012, 11:16 AM GMT): Agree with you 100%. There are a number of Sudanese refugee's in my town and they all look like Curtly Ambrose. I think it would be great if any of these guys took up cricket and rose to the top. It would make me feel extremely warm and fuzzy inside that by coming to Australia he has exchanged a life of day to day survival there to one of being an elite sportsman here. That would make me even prouder to be an Aussie, not make me get all bitter and twisted about his selection.

  • rob on November 8, 2012, 2:43 GMT

    @ bobagorof : Most decidedly. @ davidpk on (November 05 2012, 13:32 PM GMT): What a load of rubbish. He was dropped because his fielding was worse than appalling. Reports indicate that he is improving and he is still well and truly in the frame. He will get another chance, you can bank on it. @ LordKratos: another load of rubbish. We don't make excuses if we get wiped out. Our media is far more likely to tear into CA and the players than look for lame excuses. Don't you know your enemy? @ Mohit Loya on (November 05 2012, 17:44 PM GMT) : The future might look dark at the moment, but we are a proud sporting nation with too much history of success to stay down indefinitely. We will make some new names for you to worry about.

  • Ash on November 6, 2012, 11:20 GMT

    vivgilchrist, spot on mate. some astute comments here.

  • Roo on November 6, 2012, 11:20 GMT

    @Dashgar... I have no problem with Quineys selection (he is as good as any of the untried FC players going around atm - though not my first pick) but do have an issue with the selectors putting in batsmen at no.3 - used to be a time when they got time in the middle order before higher batting honors - i.e. Ponting at no.5/6 & Hussey who was a SS opener... Clarke who bats at no.4 in Shield could easily move up to no.3 for the 1st Test giving the newbie time to get his feet in what should be tough conditions for the team batting first at the Gabba...

  • Ash on November 6, 2012, 11:18 GMT

    @macca_mat. well said mate. i do feel he has been hard done by. but he is batting great, fielding and running with intensity and looking in good shape to come back into the national team.

  • Roo on November 6, 2012, 11:18 GMT

    @Gilly4ever... Agree on Bailey & Christian - they are mature cricketers that have done many seasons of cricket & could easily fit into the squad... Watsons continuing injuries cause more problems with his team position moving from no.6 to 1 & now 3, leaving multiple headaches for the selectors - if they want Watto for Tests then they need to look at his workload a lot more seriously & put him at no.6 where he wont continue to cause team issues... Also of note is that Watto since being named VC of Oz his batting average has dropped from his pre VC @41.55 to post named VC @25.00 - even Cowan has better stats... Not sure if its an odd coincidence or just a big drop in batting form when at Watto's age he should be at his peak...

  • Roo on November 6, 2012, 11:16 GMT

    @davidpk :- "i know certain aussie writers on here think that people not born in the country were he now lives should not be selected"...

    Well why didn't you name them instead of using innuendo?... Most Aussies are very happy if overseas born cricketers get most of their experience from Oz cricket (school years) & they are fully accepted as Oz products... Khawaja was 3 y.o. while Symonds was less than 1 y.o. - so yes they are Aussies, in as much as 98% of the population can say they themselves are... I have a large number of Saffa born friends with children of all ages that play cricket up to First Grade in Brissy & Gold Coast - if they went on to play for Oz I would proudly support them... What I don't like is the excuse of where one of your parents was born that lets you play sport for another country without a qualifying period...

  • Jayaesh on November 6, 2012, 8:43 GMT

    As an outsider looking at Australian cricket, CA need to be clear and unambigous about there priorities.When CA pulled Watson out of CL T-20 i had felt that act was unnecessary and cotradicatory in nature for the simple fact CA were stakeholders of that CL tournament and they were trying to undermine there own tournament and there own domestic side the sixers !! Watson's fragile body copes just fine with bowling 4 overs and fielding for 20 overs but not in 4 day or Test formats.Anglo-Saxon countries hold Test cricket as pinnacle and hence all the scheduling, preparations and efforts are guided towards that, but i hope CA realises that sports such as NRL,AFL,Olympic sports, European soccer leagues like EPL etc are attracting youngsters in huge numbers so Cricket has to catch up to survive. I am not doubting the supermacy of Test cricket but just want CA to nurture tournaments like Big Bash which can bring new market for cricket and also lucrative source of income for domestic players.

  • greig on November 6, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    @vivgilcrest. That sir is the correct answer. Basically last chance salloon for Cowan.

  • Basil on November 6, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    I see what the selectors are doing now. They have brought another opener into the squad as Cowan has under performed thus far and is out of form. So as not to look too harsh they retain him, but if he fails and Quiney goes alright, Cowan gets dropped on Watsons return. And people, that is why an all-rounder was not drafted into the squad.

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