India v Australia, 7th ODI, Bangalore November 2, 2013

Injury scare for Shane Watson


Shane Watson has sent a major scare through Australia's Ashes planners only 19 days away from the first Test in Brisbane by pulling up with a hamstring injury during the final ODI against India in Bangalore.

Running in to deliver the first ball of his sixth over at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Watson stopped sharply before completing his delivery stride and immediately left the field. He later batted at No. 8 in Australia's doomed chase and appeared to aggravate the injury while hitting a six during the course of his rapidfire 49.

"Shane encountered soreness in his left hamstring during last night's ODI in India," a Cricket Australia spokesman said. "He received initial treatment from team medical staff and showed that he was able to bat when needed. He will have the injury assessed in detail this week following his return to Australia. At that point we will have a clearer picture about his availability for the first Test."

Watson's innings was played in a fury after he was mocked by the Indian batsman Shikhar Dhawan, who mimicked a limping man after fielding a drive at mid off. The pair exchanged words subsequently and there were further angry scenes when Watson was dismissed, appearing to receive a send-off from several Indian players.

Though the seriousness of the problem is still to be assessed, hamstring problems have dogged Watson on numerous occasions throughout his career, often resulting in extended breaks from the game. He has missed major chunks of each of the past two home summers due to leg strains, and flirted with muscle problems during the Ashes series in England earlier this year though continuing to play.

Most of Australia's likely Test squad are building into form at home, but Watson, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, James Faulkner and the prospective No. 6 batsman George Bailey have all exerted themselves on the subcontinent. Concerns about Johnson's ability to transfer from limited-overs matches to the longer form of the game in time for the Ashes resulted in the team performance manager Pat Howard sending the left-arm seamer home before the final ODI in Bangalore, but Watson remained to play in the series decider.

Australia's medical and fitness staff may face a significant battle to ensure his fitness in time for the Gabba Test. Watson's availability will greatly affect the balance of the team, with the likes of Bailey, Faulkner and even the Tasmania No. 3 batsman Alex Doolan all possible inclusions should Watson be unfit.

"I don't want to sound biased, (because) I've played a lot with Jimmy, but I just can't speak highly enough of him," Bailey said of Faulkner. "I don't know how many games he's played of one-day cricket but he almost leads our bowling attack. He bowls in power plays. He bowls at the start. He bowls at the death. He loves that responsibility.

"I think we've just seen him come into his own with the bat as well with a bit of confidence. Teams will certainly fear him. It's just that energy he brings is wonderful. The competitiveness he brings is something you love playing with. He's got a pretty bright future."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mariam on November 5, 2013, 1:34 GMT

    @Barnsey Ponting, Waugh, Border all publicly backed Khawaja as well, i think it will come down to this week's game and one of either Khwaja, Klinger or Doolan will get picked, your man Hughes hasn't scored enough lately so best to let him score first.

  • Nicholas on November 4, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    @Ms.Cricket (post on November 3, 2013, 22:56 GMT): A bit harsh on Clarke as captain, but otherwise that's one of the best team-choices I've read for Australia and couldn't agree more with you re. Hughes and Warner.

  • Kiran on November 4, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    I hope Bailey gets a look in and he is handed the captaincy once he finds his feet in test cricket. Clarke -- good captain or not, seems to be a divisive figure and that is exactly what you do not need when you are building a team. Watson is an average test player. So, wouldn't be a big loss to the team. If anything, Faulkner would be a better allrounder than Watson. Also, with Watson out, there will be some reviews available for batsman down the order.

  • Michael Ponnudurai on November 4, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    If Watson is unavailable, bringing in Cutting or Faulkner as bowlers who can bat, will be the best alternative options.

  • Stephen on November 4, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    Why would we want him in the team?

    We do better in Test series when he's not available, see the last Indian tour of Australia as an example. He has a poor return in crucial matches and has been a game loser far more than winner we he goes off injured.

    We'd be better planning for his exclusion, failed experiment. Same for Hughes - the current Indian tour has shown that he can't perform to standard even in the most docile of batting conditions, his slow scoring and nervey play got Australia off to slow starts in matches where a fast confident start was crucial. He's far worse when the match is tight on a moving pitch, he's a psychological burden for the whole team with his ability to make batting look harder than it should be.

    Unreliability should always trump potential to the selectors, exciting doesn't win most matches.

  • Peter on November 3, 2013, 23:49 GMT

    @Mitty2. Only if he scores in the next 2 games, & I hope he does, same for Doolan. I think Beertjie has a point with another bowling option, but really, they need to have earned their spot. not be selected because they can bowl a little. That is English Test thinking of the 90's.

  • Mark on November 3, 2013, 23:11 GMT

    @Prabhash1985 Bailey averaged 18 in the first class season last year. His overall FC average is only 38. He's nowhere near Ponting and probably not really near test cricket. And yet all reports suggest he will be our next number 6...

  • Prem on November 3, 2013, 22:56 GMT

    Not only should Bailey be in the team but he should also be captain. Let's face the facts - Clarke may be a mighty good Test batsman but as a captain in any form he is poor. Even Ricky Ponting agrees. Losses to SAF at home, 0-4 in India, 0-3 in England, even NSW lost to Tas from a good postion last weekend. The Test team for the Gabba should be Watson, Rogers, Khwaja, Clarke, SSmith, Bailey (c), Haddin, Faulkner, Siddlem Harris and Lyon. Hughes and Warner should not be in team for the next three years and have accumulated mountains of runs consistently. Time to give Doolan and Maddison a chance if any other batsmen are injured.

  • Brady on November 3, 2013, 22:08 GMT

    So it looks like Watson won't be bowling this test match summer and probably won't be batting for at least a few games. Groundhog day anyone?

  • Hamish on November 3, 2013, 20:22 GMT

    @Prabhesh1985, he will be in the test squad. 100%

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