Lengthy stint required, says former injury-prone bowler September 22, 2007

Watson needs to play domestic cricket - Fleming

Cricinfo staff
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Brett Lee and Adam Gilchrist console Shane Watson as he leaves the field with hamstring trouble during Australia's Super Eights clash against Sri Lanka © AFP

Damien Fleming, the former Australia fast bowler, has advised Shane Watson to play domestic cricket for an extended period of time to deal with his persistent hamstring injuries. Watson missed the opening games of the ICC World Twenty20 with a hamstring problem and broke down in his first match of the tournament as the injury flared up again.

"I have a lot of empathy for him because I had a lot of injuries as well," Fleming told the Age. "You can't give it 100% and state cricket, let alone international cricket, is really unforgiving.

"The only way you get over it is by having a prolonged run of injury-free [games] to get that confidence up, and I think coming back straight in to international cricket every time, it's just not holding up. He needs to start building up a block of not only confidence in his body but confidence mentally as well.

"The best thing for him is to start playing state cricket over a period of time and give himself a chance to play, and it does open up options for the selectors to start questioning his longevity. He has to give them a fair bit in injury-free games before he will play again."

Watson has been ruled out of the seven-match ODI series against India which kicks off on Saturday in Bangalore. He has had an array of injury concerns that have contributed to his Test tally stalling at three matches, the last of which was against West Indies in 2005-06.

He was in doubt for the World Twenty20 with hamstring trouble but was cleared for the trip. He had a start-stop campaign in the World Cup due to a calf strain, having already missed much of the 2006-07 season - including the Ashes - with hamstring injuries. His most serious setback came when he dislocated his shoulder while attempting a dive in his most recent Test, nearly two years ago.

But Adam Gilchrist, Australia's stand-in captain, has come out in support of Watson. "People might look and say it's silly to pick him but that's not the case," Gilchrist told AAP. "He keeps presenting himself when he's fully fit, and when he is fully fit, he can form a vital cog in that wheel of success for us.

"He's just a young, exciting cricketer in both forms of the game. He's got the power and touch with the bat. There's talk that he could even open in Test cricket, that's how highly regarded he is with the bat.

"And bowling, he just adds that extra dimension we may have lacked or certainly we may need in the absence of [Shane] Warne and [Glenn] McGrath. He's highly regarded in the Australian cricket set-up and he knows that and that's why it's even more disappointing for him to break down like this."