Sri Lanka in Australia 2012/13

Watson in doubt for Sydney Test

Brydon Coverdale

December 27, 2012

Comments: 57 | Text size: A | A

Shane Watson made 83, Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 2nd day, December 27, 2012
Shane Watson should field on day three at the MCG © Getty Images

Shane Watson is in doubt for the Sydney Test after suffering yet another injury while bowling.

Watson hurt his left calf - the same muscle that caused him problems earlier in the summer and ruled him out of the first two Tests against South Africa - while bowling against Sri Lanka at the MCG on Boxing Day.

The problem did not prevent Watson from batting on the second day and he was able to score 83 in an innings that lasted more than four hours but Cricket Australia revealed his injury late on Thursday night.

"He was able to get though the batting innings today and is likely to field on day three," team physio Alex Kountouris said. "Whether he bowls in the second innings will be determined closer to the bowling innings. A decision on his availability for the New Year Test will be made after the completion of the current match."

Watson has had an injury-plagued year, missing the whole of the last Australian Test summer due to hamstring and calf problems, before being ruled out of the Brisbane and Adelaide Tests this season after injuring his left calf while bowling in a Sheffield Shield match. As he recovered from that problem, he retained his determination to remain an allrounder and said he would not consider giving up bowling "unless something goes very horribly wrong".

During Australia's victory against Sri Lanka in Hobart this month he bowled 47.4 overs, easily the most he has ever sent down in a Test, as he helped cover for Ben Hilfenhaus, who broke down during the game.

In the lead-up to the Boxing Day Test, Watson said his body had recovered well from the workload and he was looking forward to contributing more with the ball in future.

"My body has pulled up really well so far from the amount of bowling," Watson said in Melbourne on Sunday, three days before the Test began. "To be able to get through that many overs is something that I've been thinking about for the last six months, and more so dreaming to be honest, to be able to contribute to an Australian Test bowling side of things with that amount of overs.

"I've pulled up really well from it. I always wished I was able to contribute some time when the team needed it. Unfortunately for Ben Hilfenhaus he went down injured but it meant that it gave me an opportunity to see if my body could handle that sort of thing and so far it has."

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

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Posted by jack_thomas25 on (December 29, 2012, 19:30 GMT)

I completely agree with inefekt.. Dear Shane, please make the long overdue decision to lighten your bowling workload and concentrate on your batting. Move back to the openers position (we need an excuse to get rid of Cowan) and insist that you bowl no more than 5 to 10 overs per day. If a bowler gets injured mid match then all bowlers share workload. I'm from india.. and i'm a huge fan of watson's batting. but he's being played by a villain kid clarke. i was a huge fan of dominant AUS when mcgrath, gilly, steve, ricky were there. but now cricket AUS is a joke to me. captained by a immatured kid clarke(no man). WATSON is the only dominant man in aus n looks n behaves n bats like a true aussie. what a dominant figure in a team full of kids. cunning kid(boy, no man)clarke scared of losing his captaincy is playing cheap tricks like moving watson down to no.4 and making him overbowl n purposely trying to injure him.

Posted by inefekt on (December 29, 2012, 1:29 GMT)

Dear Shane, please make the long overdue decision to lighten your bowling workload and concentrate on your batting. Move back to the openers position (we need an excuse to get rid of Cowan) and insist that you bowl no more than 5 to 10 overs per day. If a bowler gets injured mid match then you can take over that bowlers workload, but only under those circumstances. Thank you.

Posted by Mary_786 on (December 28, 2012, 5:58 GMT)

Get Khawaja in for Watson, he is ready. Khawaja will do fine if selected. The selectionn panel has done a good job and will reward Khawaja. If Khawaja gets a go in the upcoming test then people can witness first hand how good his fielding and running between the wickets is now. Boof has improved this aspects in his game and rest can see for themselves.

Posted by Vishnu27 on (December 28, 2012, 5:52 GMT)

Yeah, that's right RednWhiteArmy, Australia are the only team in the world suffering injuries. Oh, hang on a sec, that's right, didn't England in India just have to continually shuffle their own injury riddled decks? Seriously, we aren't all as misinformed as you'd like to think. Running scared already? Bit early for that. Just imagine what'll happen if you don't wrap Jimmy up in cotton wool & mothballs between now & the next two Ashes series. 10-nil is what.

Posted by hycIass on (December 28, 2012, 5:29 GMT)

@158not out and RandyOz are correct about Khawaja, he will be the correct replacement for Watson.. Watson has to be careful that he does not play in a dead rubber when he is not required and get himself right for the Indian series . If Khawaja does play then look for an improvement in his fielding as much as his batting. We know he has scored them in testing conditions, but more importantly he has been keeping the scoreboard ticking over as much with his running as his shot-making which was something the selectors asked him for in their "to do" list i.e rotating the strike. For the bowling Starc has to come back in but for who because Johnson did well, i am guessing they will rest Siddle but he is our best bowler.

Posted by righthandbat on (December 28, 2012, 5:22 GMT)

Watson possibly should retire from test match cricket. He is well-suited to ODIs and T20, but he just doesn't seem to be of Kallis quality - injury-prone, incapable of making centuries in the longer-form of the game.

He either has to make the big call and say he wants to focus purely on test match cricket or give it up.

Posted by Chris_P on (December 28, 2012, 4:59 GMT)

@RednWhiteArmy, stick to being a comic relief, you are never taken seriously as it is.

Posted by Chris_P on (December 28, 2012, 4:58 GMT)

@Blakey Mitchell Marsh? How would he even be considered based on first class form given the Argus recommendations? As for pace bowling all-rounders, Henriques is the form player, spinning all-rounders can go to SOK. Mitchell Marsh, for his undoubted talent, is simply not performing at first class level. Watson's batting is still holding him there, just, but we do need a bowling option from our top 6, and not just a trundler for a couple of overs.

Posted by MinusZero on (December 28, 2012, 3:44 GMT)

Watson seriously needs to consider test retirement. He cant handle it. Overrated anyway.

Posted by handyandy on (December 28, 2012, 3:37 GMT)

Might make Sydney selections a little easier.

I would just bring Starc back into the team. Johnson is batting well enough to come in at seven. Clarke, Hussey and Wade can move up a slot.

As for Watson's long term future ... well that has to be in doubt. If the guy can't stay fit then he isn't much use to the team.

Posted by   on (December 28, 2012, 3:31 GMT)

Chris, you do realise that average of 36 is better than Flintoff's average? His bowling average was also better last I checked.

Posted by dmat on (December 28, 2012, 2:59 GMT)

I agree, Watson is too fragile for the 5 day format - in my view, he never really made it as a batsman. One of the first picked for ODI's or T20 but I suggests he gives test cricket away. Sad, he could have been good but his stats look pretty average against most decent all rounders. Kawaja is an immediate fit for the number 4 slot and maybe the selectors are looking for an allrounder to fill Hussey's spot when he finishes. Keep Clark at 5 - don't try and fix something that ain't broke!!!

Posted by Chris_P on (December 28, 2012, 1:41 GMT)

@wix99. If the selectors want a pace bowling all-rounder, & they followed form, Henriques should be the next one selected as he is the form all-rounder in the Shield. It will be interesting to see which direction the selectors will go or even if they just go with Watson as batsman & let the 4 specialist bowlers do most of the work. @158notout. Shaun Marsh? He isn't even in the WA shield team any more, AND not even scoring runs in Perth grade! I would suggest there are about 20 guys ahead of him in the pecking order, if not more.

Posted by gdevilliars on (December 28, 2012, 1:24 GMT)

Some of these comments are down right stupid, Watson is a world class allrounder he's not at his best by any means but still contributes more than most in his team. He should be batting at 6 or 7 to complement his bowling or made to drop it all together and play as a batsman only at 4. Flintoff was a bits and pieces player, no better than Pollock with bat where Watson has the mechanics to hold a close to 50 average. Its not Watsons body size at all you just have to look at Kallis who has close to 300 test wickets to get a little insight. Half the Aussie team wiil not last more than a year there skills are not test level especially when South Africa and England are improving in leaps and bounds.

Posted by Drop_Thunder on (December 27, 2012, 23:51 GMT)

It's sad to see this happen again and his services will be missed but we really need more stable options for the line up. Can't have guys popping in 'n out of the team every series. Now we have got a stack of good bowlers and it's time to stabilize the batting line up. Give Usman Khawaja a go in this series against SL and get him prepared for Ashes. Hughes is porving his worth and so can Khawaja. In My personal openion, it's time to get back to the basics and rely on specialists unless you have the guys like Jack Callis or Sakib-Al-Hasan fit to play on a regular basis.

Posted by oval77 on (December 27, 2012, 23:50 GMT)

Very sad if Watson's career stutters out due to injury. Stats wise he IS overrated but he has a sort of talismanic role in the team which is invaluable in a way that averages can never reveal. Look at players like Simmonds and Flintoff. Same story. Watson's value is clear to us in the UK and I'd actually be happier if he wasn't in the ashes touring party, but also sad not to see him there. ps. @RednWhiteArmy that's a seriously funny comment mate, had me laughing out loud!

Posted by Someguy on (December 27, 2012, 23:27 GMT)

Watson is not a test batsman, and he's certainly not a bowling allrounder. He is a brilliant limited overs player at the international level, but not a test player.

I wouldn't mind seeing Henriques given a go while he is in some form. Averaging 64 with the bat and about 20 with the ball this season. Would be interesting to see if he can step up.

Another option would be Johnson at 7. His batting average isn't that great at the moment, but how many times has he gotten out going for fast runs? He has a very good defense and all the shots. I honestly believe that a bowling allrounder is his best role. He has a better conversion rate with the bat than Watson and is a much better bowler, although his lack of consistency would rule him out as a specialist bowler for me.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (December 27, 2012, 23:25 GMT)

LOL! Sorry, injuries aren't meant to be funny, but, just like the huge influx of fast bowlers getting injured, this is just too ridiculous to have anything other than laughter attached. Shane Watson - whatever you are doing to cause these injuries, change it. Cricket Australia - get your act into gear and fix up whatever is causing these injuries.

Posted by DocBindra on (December 27, 2012, 23:00 GMT)

Either retire or quit bowling already...not getting any younger.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (December 27, 2012, 22:55 GMT)

YES!!! Got it in one!! Damn I wish bookies had been taking bets on which Aussie would get injured.

Posted by gogoldengreens on (December 27, 2012, 22:54 GMT)

Why are the selectors so keen to rotate players who can handle their workload but never rest Watson who is like a cheap second hand car some days will cruise down the highway without any issues one day then the next won,t start the next & just like that second hand car is not suited to a long trip Watson is not suited to a big innings...

Posted by xylo on (December 27, 2012, 22:51 GMT)

Watson could think about sacrificing at least one format of the game for his own longevity and health beyond his cricketing career.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 22:08 GMT)

Watson is so overrated. A batting average of 36 is not acceptable. Australia got creamed years back in the Ashes by Andrew Flintoff and since then they've been looking for their own Flintoff, but sadly Watson is not that man. He has only 2 centuries. By comparison Mitchell Johnson might have 2 centuries by lunchtime today as well.

Posted by Blakey on (December 27, 2012, 22:07 GMT)

@ RandyOZ, why would you replace Cowan with Watson? Very similar averages and Cowan hasn't had an injury and can field. Watson has to be getting very close to his last chance in regard to injury. I would replace him with a spinning all-rounder for India and maybe Mitchell Marsh for Ashes.

Posted by matty_aus_82 on (December 27, 2012, 22:02 GMT)

@158notout. Shaun Marsh, are you serious? The guy is in horrible form and cant even get a run for WA! Id much rather a young guy like Khawaja or Burns.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 22:00 GMT)

Watson should go back to opening because that's what he was best at, Warner at 3, Hughes at 4 or swap those two as it doesn't really matter. If you're claiming Clarke should move up to 3 or 4 you have no idea about cricket. Where did Lara bat 4-5, Tendulkar 4-5, Waugh 5-6, Border 5-6, N. Harvey 4-5, you could keep naming names but the pertinent fact is that those players are bested suited in that position, regardless of whatever unwritten law there is about your best player batting at 3. We were blessed with Ponting but Clarke is typical number 5 and hits stats reiterate this. Leave it as it is PLEASE. Steve Waugh suffered horribly at 3, Clarke may suit it in ODI's which I am all for him batting at 3, but tests require someone else. Maybe Finch or Ferguson or White or Forrest could be groomed for the role since all are mature and seasoned players.

Posted by Wozza-CY on (December 27, 2012, 21:59 GMT)

@Jono Makim- The NSP had the perfect time to pick SOK after he top scored and took wickets against the touring English team in Hobart. He equitted himself very well and was ripe for the picking. Instead they went for Beer etc. Now SOK seems to be in the wilderness. With Watson getting injured so much the NSP should now re-think their selection of him. Also, with a healthy squad of seamers around, a slow bowling all rounder makes a lot of sense. I'd like to see someone else captain NSW because SOK is less inclined to bowl himself these day. @Rednwhitearmy- LOL, you're much better at humorous posts as opposed to your usual spray of anything Australian....

Posted by Buggsy on (December 27, 2012, 21:53 GMT)

This is getting beyond a joke now. It was pretty clear years ago that Watson doesn't have the body to cut it at Test level and at his age isn't going to magically improve. His perennial injuries are a constant disruption to the batting lineup and he's not performing when he is fit anyway. Time to hang up the baggy green and stick to limited overs formats only where he's much more suited.

Posted by wrenx on (December 27, 2012, 21:46 GMT)

@david O'brien people have legitimate concerns about replacing ageing players, but Hussey hasn't even hinted at a dip in form, he's as much of a run machine as ever. I'm sure it'll be a worry if he ever has a lean patch, but the way he's playing, replacing Hussey must be low down on the selectors list of concerns

Posted by 158notout on (December 27, 2012, 21:09 GMT)

Presumably Australia will have to take one extra bat on this Ashes tour to cover Watson. That is more or less where they came unstuck on the last tour - Hughes failed spectacularly and they only had Watson as batting cover. Still, at least that was the start of his most productive spell (as opener). I presume Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Watson, Clarke and Hussey will all go and then I would take at least two others - I guess at the moment the next cab off the rank is Khawaja, who is a good cover, and perhaps Shaun Marsh? I know he has not exactly set the world alight recently but batting wise he is a decent repalcement for Watto. I reckon the Aussie and English batting is about level pegging, both teams have a couple of spots that really need someone to stand up and grab hold of, notably for England the no.6 spot. Imagine the Test career Bopara could have had if he actually had the talent he hinted at so often!

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 20:57 GMT)

Sad to see Watson fade out like this, can't see him getting too many more shots if he does miss the next test.

I'm for Michael Clarke at 3 and Warner moving down to 6. Who replaces Hussey when he retires?

Posted by tony122 on (December 27, 2012, 20:24 GMT)

@Narkovian- Gyming does not do anything to make you a fast bowler. Watson does not have a body for a bowler. He is simply too bulky- I am not sure how much of it is natural and how much is training. My advice to young cricketers is if you are a bowler just bowl- keep running in hard and keep bowling. If you are alone maybe do not even use the ball. To batsmen just keep batting. If you find yourself alone just take a bat and do shadow practice. Just keep batting and bowling-it will form muscles that matter to the game.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (December 27, 2012, 20:03 GMT)

I agree with RandyOZ, the pakistan born lad is definately their best option after yet another example of their fragility with injuries. If you need a bowler to replace watson you could always use Wade and get siddle keeping wicket or something. Then you just have to get Lyon bowling pace, replacing siddle & finally use the 12th man as the new spinner. Clarke could also bat down at 6, further from the new ball and improve his chances of red ink.

Posted by wix99 on (December 27, 2012, 20:00 GMT)

Usman Khawaja could fit straight in to the batting order at No. 4 to replace Watson. However, if selectors are prepared to shuffle the batting order they could look for an allrounder. Steve Smith or Glen Maxwell could offer a second spin bowling option.

By the way, how is Clarke's hamstring? He wasn't running at full pace while batting yesterday.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 19:36 GMT)

Clarke is long overdue for a shift up the order. I'd like to see him take over the no. 4 role in Watson's absence.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 27, 2012, 19:11 GMT)

@RandyOz, He's a question for you - How's the Christmas Minnow Big Bash compare to series in which the top teams in the world are playing? Look how far you've sunk, having to cheer about 6th place in the world. Just run through those England players who inflicted humiliation after humiliation on Australia both home and abroad and do enlighten us as to how they compare to Australia's Christmas Turkey Mess- How does Anderson compare to Australia's best seamer Lyon? How about Cook as the now world's best test opener? How about Prior? I'll save you the pain...Australia are no where near the mark. I can't stop grinning. :)

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 18:58 GMT)

This is left field-ish, but i'd like to see Steve O'Keefe playing at #7 in Sydney as the allrounder, just to see if he is a viable proposition at test level, this proposition is as much with the Indian tour in mind as anything else. I think Inverarity's modus operandi is to build a squad of players that can play at the top, moreso than picking the best xi every match and I think this would be a good option..... What to do with Watto? Its really starting to look like the team is going to struggle for consistency and to move forward while ever he is in it. This is quite frustrating as I think with him in the side as an allrounder he really balances the team perfectly with his ability to tie up an end while bowling and relieve the workload of a young bowling team, his excellent catching and his reasonably consistent batting. Do we have a look at Henriques, Maxwell? I think it needs to be a batting allrounder if he's to be replaced with a longer term view.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 18:47 GMT)

@Narkovian, How about Bruce Reid, Shane Bond, Ryan Harris, Brett Schultz (if anyone even remembers him!) and Ian Bishop? Some blokes are just walking injuries.

Posted by RandyOZ on (December 27, 2012, 18:37 GMT)

The one good thing about this is now surely Khawaja can come in and play. This will then form our top 6 for the Ashes, with Watson replacing Cowan if fit.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 17:05 GMT)

srilanka failed in all attempts as they were unable to control tailanders would be totally a different case if welegedara was available...hope they fight back in second innings and rule australian bowling attack.....

Posted by OzWally on (December 27, 2012, 17:04 GMT)

Well that helps decide which fast players to play/leave out. Play all 4 (that are healthy) - Johnson, Siddle, Starc & Bird plus Lyon. Johnson becomes your all-rounder and bats at #6 or 7.

Posted by priceless1 on (December 27, 2012, 14:28 GMT)

Australia can rest all of their front line Players in the next game and play their U19 Team instead , they will still win it comfortably

Posted by SurlyCynic on (December 27, 2012, 14:21 GMT)

This guy is as durable as a chocolate kettle. A pity, but he should give up on tests now as he can't last more than a day.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (December 27, 2012, 14:13 GMT)

One good game, followed by 5 games rest / lay-off due to injury... seems to be the main story for certain players...

Posted by I-Like-Cricket on (December 27, 2012, 13:56 GMT)

So who do we bring in for the NY test if he's not fit? Doolan, Khwaja or Quiney? Or go left field and push Johnson up the order to bat at 4 and play Starc, Bird and Siddle.

Posted by kangaroussy on (December 27, 2012, 13:56 GMT)

wow. surely watto can't remain vice-captain if he continues to get injured every 1.5 tests, then misses the next 3. as we heard today, watto has played 38 of 88 possible tests since his debut. IF he happens to be fit for some portion of the Ashes, he may be worth a spot in the team, but let's not count on it.

Posted by jonesy2 on (December 27, 2012, 13:53 GMT)

is this even possible? im convinced that he doesnt actually get injured and mistakes something else for injury

Posted by Solace1 on (December 27, 2012, 13:48 GMT)

He clearly struggled to make those 83 runs against our bowling attack, he couldn't be at his usual self, so he is just making these excuses to avoid our bowlers for the sydney test!!

Posted by Return-of-Sinhaya on (December 27, 2012, 13:42 GMT)

Shane, as i already recommended, do not play test cricket, the world of t20 needs performers like you, more importantly Australia need you for BANGLADESH 2014

Posted by JustOUT on (December 27, 2012, 13:37 GMT)

there it is.. how come Watson can play 3 test matches in a row.. its a miracle and as it happened before he is out for 4th one.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 13:33 GMT)

An injury to Shane Watson, what a stunning turn of events.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 13:26 GMT)

Enough now. Hes a liability in that you cant get out of him what you pick him for. Time for 6 batsmen and 4 bowlers CA.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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