South Africa in Australia, 2012-13

Watson injury scare ahead of Tests

Daniel Brettig

November 3, 2012

Comments: 54 | Text size: A | A

Shane Watson bowling, Queensland v New South Wales, Sheffield Shield, day one, Brisbane, November 3, 2012
Shane Watson managed only one over for NSW before complaining of a calf problem © Getty Images
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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matches for Australia's Test batsmen, as only Michael Hussey has made any substantial runs while Ricky Ponting was withdrawn from Tasmania's match against South Australia with hamstring tightness.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

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Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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 ?

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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'...

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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