Watson makes comeback in grade cricket
Shane Watson hopes to be fully fit within a week after making an encouraging return to Sydney grade cricket on Saturday. But Watson remains uncertain whether he will be able to play in any of the Commonwealth Bank Series, insisting that he needs at least one Sheffield Shield game under his belt before he can be considered for national duties.
Watson has not played for Australia since the tour of South Africa in November, having been initially ruled out of the home Tests against New Zealand due to a hamstring tear. However, it is a calf injury picked up during his recovery that has caused him ongoing problems, and it was not until this weekend that he was able to play again, for his club side Sutherland.
He got through the match without any concerns and scored 30 from 27 deliveries and bowled six overs for figures of 0 for 17. Watson hopes to be available for New South Wales' next Sheffield Shield match, against Western Australia at the WACA, starting on Friday.
"It's been a very frustrating couple of months. It's something I love, doing so much, so I missed it a lot," Watson told AAP. "There's been a few false starts over the last month or so, so to be able to get through the game was the most important thing. I've been working pretty hard on my batting and making a few adjustments on my batting technique. In the end, I suppose I got more than I was hoping out of the day."
However, Watson knows setbacks can arrive at any time. While he might be able to return in the later stages of the tri-series against India and Sri Lanka, that remains dependent on how he recovers this week and how well he gets through the Shield game.
"If I'm able to get through a Shield game then and get some bowling into me in that Shield game, I feel like I will be ready to be able to play one-day cricket especially," he said. "But I'm not getting too far in front of myself. I know how important the next few days are to recover."
The day didn't go so well for Australia's struggling wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who was playing against Watson for Eastern Suburbs. Haddin didn't keep wicket - Peter Nevill was given that job - and scored 1 batting at No.3 before he was caught at cover off the legspin of Steven Smith.
And in Melbourne, the fast bowler James Pattinson made his comeback from a foot injury for his club side Dandenong, although as a batsman only. Victoria's captain Cameron White said Pattinson was bowling in the nets and could be in the mix for next weekend's Ryobi Cup game against South Australia, or failing that for Victoria's next Shield game, starting on March 1.
"Obviously not this Shield game but maybe the one after that," White said. "I'm not sure about the one-day game [on Saturday]. He's back bowling in the nets now, reloading after that foot injury. We'll make sure he gets enough work through it to get him right to play for Australia. I think once he's fit he'll be straight back in there."