Watson back in frame for Perth Test
Shane Watson will keep the pressure on the struggling Andrew Symonds after being recalled to Australia's squad for next week's first Test against South Africa. Watson was dropped following the opening match against New Zealand after batting at No. 7 and bowling first or second change, and he could be used in a similar role at the WACA.
However, if Symonds falters Watson might soon be pushed up a spot to the position he filled during the India series. Symonds scored 46 in three innings in his comeback from his fishing suspension, but he was also involved in a hotel incident during the series that increased the scrutiny on his performances. Both Queenslanders are handy contributors with bat and ball, but Watson improved his credentials last week with seven wickets and 81 on the same day for Queensland.
The offspinner Jason Krejza has been chosen in the hope his injured ankle will allow him to play his first Test in Australia following his 12 wickets on debut in Nagpur last month. Peter Siddle, the fast bowler who was part of the squad for Adelaide, was cut while Nathan Hauritz made way for Krejza.
"[Jason's] been picked subject to fitness but all reports suggest he'll be fit and will resume cricket for Tasmania this week," the selection chairman Andrew Hilditch said. "Jason richly deserves to be back in the Test squad." The selectors are determined to pick a spinner for Perth but it will depend on Krejza's recovery.
Hilditch said the team would have to be at its best to beat South Africa - the first Test starts on December 17 - and he was happy with the way the players fought back from the 2-0 defeat in India. "One of the most pleasing parts of the New Zealand series was the good form of Brett Lee, whose bowling improved as the series went on," Hilditch said. "We expect him to be back to his very best against South Africa."
The wicketkeeper Brad Haddin also confirmed his future with an entertaining century in Adelaide while Mitchell Johnson enjoyed his return to the more lively home wickets. "Brad's emerged from that period of scrutiny well, his keeping improves with each Test and his batting blossomed in Adelaide as we would've expected with someone with such a good domestic record," he said.
"Mitchell had an outstanding tour of India and his progress continued against New Zealand. He's presenting himself as a very exciting, wicket-taking package for Australia."
Australia squad Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin (wk), Brett Lee, Jason Krejza, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark.