England v Australia, 4th Investec Ashes Test, Durham, 3rd day August 11, 2013

Watson injury concern for Australia


Australia suffered a potentially significant blow to their chances of victory at Chester-le-Street when Shane Watson left the field injured on Sunday. Watson pulled up sore after the third ball of his seventh over of England's second innings and walked off with pain in his right hip/groin area. Cricket Australia said he would be assessed on Sunday evening "to see how it settles".

In the immediate term, the injury hampers Australia's hopes in this Test as, due to ICC regulations, Watson will not be able to have a runner when he bats in Australia's chase. Watson scored 68 in the first innings and apart from the centurion Chris Rogers was the batsman who appeared to best handle the swinging and seaming conditions.

In the longer term, it is a concern given Australia's apparent desire to turn Watson into more of a bowling allrounder. He began the series opening the batting but a lack of runs at the top of the order, combined with his impressive economy and control at the bowling crease, encouraged the Australians to move him down to No. 6 for this game.

Ryan Harris said: "It's obviously not a good sign when anyone gets injured but I don't know it's as bad as first thought. When I left the rooms they were talking about him batting but they'll assess it tonight and see how he pulls up in the morning. You never want anyone limping off, especially someone like Shane Watson who's a pretty big player in your team."

Watson has bowled 80.3 overs in this Ashes campaign, easily the second most he has sent down in a Test series, after the 115.4 he delivered in India in 2008. Watson's bowling has been a constant source of injury concerns throughout his career, to the point that he embarked on the tour of India earlier this year as a batsman only, in an attempt to avoid further problems. But his miserable batting form - he has not scored a Test hundred since 2010 - meant that Watson needed to be bowling for Australia to gain enough value from his inclusion in the side and he has played an important bowling role in England.

Watson's most recent bowling injury occurred during the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka at the MCG last year, when he hurt his left calf, the same muscle that caused him problems earlier in the season and ruled him out of the first two Tests against South Africa. He had also missed the whole of the previous Australian Test summer due to calf and hamstring injuries.

His injury in Melbourne came after he sent down 47.4 overs in the previous match at Hobart, the most he had ever delivered in a Test, and his heavy workload and subsequent injury on this Ashes tour will again force Australia to consider how to use him in future.

If Watson is ruled out of the next Test at The Oval, Australia will also need to consider whether to replace him with a bowler and move Brad Haddin up to No. 6, or with a batsman. James Faulkner, Ashton Agar and Mitchell Starc are the extra bowlers in Australia's squad who could come into contention and each offers an all-round option as well.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on August 12, 2013, 9:42 GMT

    He should just stick with T20 and onedayers. Faulkner is a way better prospect for the test team.

  • Dummy4 on August 12, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    Couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke..

  • Doog on August 12, 2013, 8:31 GMT

    Shame for Watto, right after a good knock on a tricky(ish) pitch as well. Oh well, He will still bat - the man doesn't need to run! Six or out, brother!

  • Dummy4 on August 12, 2013, 8:13 GMT

    Watson is always haunted with injuries. I hope he will be alright to bat in the current test match. If he fails then it would be concern for Australia.

  • Himanshu on August 12, 2013, 8:01 GMT

    Watson must seriously assess his test match fitness. He can not hope that he is in the side as an all-rounder, but the skipper will always worry about his workload. If you are in the squad as a bowler, and your side has been bowling for the better part of the series (except just one test), then you have to share the bowling load. If Watson is unable to share this workload, he is not good as an all rounder at test level. His recent batting exploits, do not earn him a place in the team as a pure batsman either. So he must focus only on limited overs cricket and move away from tests. That is best for him, as well as for Australia.

  • Dummy4 on August 12, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    @Smudgeon, that is probably a little below Watsons station, he'll probably make his comeback through the champions league and Oz's odi tour of India!

    @jmc & nutcutlet, agree on the runner law, besides Arjuna has retired now, time to change it back!

    Hard to know what Aus will do now. Perhaps Watto and Bird out, Starc and Agar in? Maybe they oughta fly the big show over? Nice flat wicket at the Oval! This is why Watto can't open and play as an allrounder, his inevitable injury means there will never be a strong or regular opening combination with him at the top.

  • David on August 12, 2013, 6:29 GMT

    Time for him to shuffle off into the sunset.

  • Dummy4 on August 12, 2013, 6:15 GMT

    What is it with all the Australian fast bowlers? They can barely get through a series uninjured. Pattinson and Watson are injured. Harris is fragile; it was a near miracle having him play for his 3rd consecutive test match for only the 2nd time in his career. The other great Australian hope, Cummins is perpetually injured. With all the facilities available for research and so many case studies available, they should be able to solve the mystery!

  • wayne on August 12, 2013, 4:32 GMT

    Okay, so maybe send him home now, let him settle back into the NSW squad, train when he's fit, hit Shield to find some form, and return to the Test team if - and only if - he has earned it through strong performance. In the meantime, you could either throw in Faulkner as a lower-order bat & handy left-armer (Agar if the next test is on a turner), or shore up the batting with Phil Hughes in the middle order. I'd prefer to have another bowler, to be honest, especially with Harris' injury record.

  • Dummy4 on August 12, 2013, 3:42 GMT

    Why did Cricket Australia allow Watson to play in the "Injury creator IPL"? Why unnecessarily expose & aggravate the injury prone Watson in this "100 meters dash Cricket(IPL)" ? We suffered with our only plausible wicket taking bowler Zaheer Khan who limped and winced in pain and we were blown away since others simply could not take wickets .