Australia in England 2012 July 9, 2012

Watson and Lee fly home to uncertain future


Shane Watson and Brett Lee are flying home early from Australia's poor ODI tour of England and face cloudy futures beyond it after both were confirmed to have suffered calf strains during the series-deciding loss to England in Durham. Watson bowled only one over before leaving the field at Chester-le-Street and Lee soon joined him in the treatment room after two deliveries of his second spell.

Following initial scans conducted on tour it has been decided to send the duo home in order to begin treatment of the injuries. Both are in doubt for Australia's Twenty20 and ODI series against Pakistan in August. Watson's calf problem is on his left leg, the opposite to that which suffered hamstring and calf problems that kept him out of the majority of the last Australian summer. Lee's injury is a bad sign for a fast bowler who at 35 is already close to the conclusion of his international career.

"They were both disappointed, obviously Shane has had a few injuries in his time, but he's a hard worker, and works extremely hard on getting his body right, so he was fairly disappointed," Mitchell Johnson said. "But I think he can still do an allrounder's job, and that's how he wants to play his cricket as well. I definitely think we need him in that role as well, for his experience.

"Brett's had a pretty good career through injuries, he hasn't had too many majors ones, but it's jsut a little one at the moment, and I'm sure he'll be back pretty quickly."

The issue of Watson's ability to cope with the all-round demands of his preferred role in the national team is a recurring one, and the coach Mickey Arthur has said he is unsure of the best way forward. Arthur pointed out that in addition to the injuries Watson has suffered, his batting and bowling best seldom coincide.

"We want Watto as an all-rounder. He gives us immense value and great balance. We need to have Watto as an all-rounder in that team for the balance of the side," Arthur said following the Durham defeat. "It seems that he bats well for a period of time then he doesn't bowl well. And if he bowls well [he doesn't bat well]. We have got to get it right as Watto is a great cricketer. He will get it right, we just need to sit down and plot a way forward and think how we are going to use him better."

The injuries to Watson and Lee have meant an early call-up to Australian duty for the left-armer Mitchell Starc, who joined the squad in Manchester late on Sunday night after taking 2 for 27 to help Yorkshire qualify for the domestic Friends Life t20 quarter-finals. Starc was chosen for the Australia A tour that follows the final ODI at Old Trafford, and has won the approval of the national selector John Inverarity.

"Starc, his figures over here, I've been watching closely and he's been taking wickets consistently, and a very high proportion of his wickets are bowled and lbw," Inverarity said. "I think he looks in really good shape. He's 22 and his body is slightly gangly - I reckon it'll be a year or 18 months; he's going to keep improving, and he's a good bowler."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • EnglishCricket on July 12, 2012, 13:45 GMT

    Australia are clearly a weak team now and was simply owned by England.

  • SirViv1973 on July 12, 2012, 6:37 GMT

    @hyclass you've made some very good points. Ive said before re Cummins a bowler needs to learn his trade and thats impossible in 3 first class games and a handful of T20s

  • hyclass on July 11, 2012, 14:01 GMT

    @SirViv1973...I opposed Cummin's original inclusion for the SA Tests match based on the premise that he had been injured during the Shield final and at a very young age,could not possibly have recovered sufficiently.It was my belief that to use him so badly before he had fully developed physically was to expose him to career ending injuries.It is well understood that in avoiding placing undue strain on a previously injured area,other areas take the load and are themselves exposed.The vindication is in his 3rd injury since the final.I blogged 2 days before his SA Test related injury that I expected him to be injured based on his record.I also regarded his complete lack of career statistics at that time(3 1st class matches for 9 wickets at 46) as anathema to the manner in which all the successful Test teams had been chosen for 130 years.CA were looking for a poster boy to promote BBL ahead of traditional cricket which they had spent 5 years undermining & still continues.Cummins was it.

  • Meety on July 11, 2012, 2:51 GMT

    @Trueman's Ghost - BTW, my original comment was a retort to what IMO, was a poor comment, & was really food for thought. Also, Siddle is only 27, which I hope (not a certainty, just ask MJ), means is he is heading into his best years as a bowler. I have actually been critical of him in the past, but I think I hadn't taken into account his injuries. I think he is better prepared for tests these days, (despite being injured in WI).

  • Meety on July 11, 2012, 2:45 GMT

    @Truemans_Ghost - yes & no. Siddle is a good (not great) TEST bowler. He is wholehearted & will give everything - even when things aren't going right. ATM - your mob are having a good time of things in the field (even when losing - UAE), so wholeheartedness is probably not at the top of your list - yet! I do believe that SHOULD Oz's Generation Next quicks overcome injury issues & start building up their body of work, Siddle will get overtaken. It is interesting to note, Clarke uses him differently to Punter. Under Ponting, Siddle was a workhorse, bowling long spells, under Clarke he is bowled in shorter bursts, maybe the different approach brings out the best, stats wise he is superior to Anderson, (not genuinely suggesting that). His record does not include cheap wickets & his 2 of his best records are against India & Sth Africa. Will he single handed win Oz the Ashes? Nope, can he play a significant role in Oz winning the Ashes? IMO - yes!

  • Humdingers on July 10, 2012, 23:33 GMT

    Simple, bat Watson at 6/7. Opening the batting is a tough gig when you have to back it up with bowling as well. Puts Kallis' career in a whole different light.

  • mrmonty on July 10, 2012, 20:44 GMT

    Lee and Watson, a couple more scalps of the IPL.

  • SirViv1973 on July 10, 2012, 20:20 GMT

    @Hyclass would you have left Cummins out because of his injury or do you think he's just not ready for international cricket yet ?

  • SirViv1973 on July 10, 2012, 20:17 GMT

    Can't believe there are people on here calling for Ponting to be recalled, he's 38 and Aus simply need to move on. As for Lee i'm not sure why he is still picked other than to allow him to end his career at a major tournament ie the T20 WC in SRl. With so many younger fast bowlers available Aus should be thinking of the future. As for Watson I think he has too many commitments, he plays for Aus as an allrounder in all forms of the game as well being a regular in the ipl. Something has to give I would suggest that he gives up 50 over cricket, plays only T20 as an allrounder and plays in tests as a specialist opening bat.

  • SirViv1973 on July 10, 2012, 19:59 GMT

    @Macio You should also remember that those limited overs series you keep banging on about where as 5Wombats says after the main events of the ashes series, both of which you lost. So on both those tours it was Eng who won what really mattered. As on this occasion and and in the other stand alone ODI series in 2010 we have won not to mention the T20 WC final win!

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