New Zealand v Australia, 2nd Test, Hamilton March 25, 2010

Watson looking good for second Test

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Shane Watson's chances of playing the second Test in Hamilton looked promising after he had a strong workout during a batting session in the Seddon Park nets on Thursday. Watson appeared unencumbered by the hip strain that kept him out of the win in Wellington, driving and pulling with full power against Clint McKay and a group of local bowlers.

Should Watson prove his fitness it will mean the axe for Phillip Hughes, who blazed to an unbeaten 86 as Australia chased down 106 to win the first Test at the Basin Reserve. Michael Hussey said Hughes would not be fazed by making way for Watson and the Australians were confident that Hughes would become a full-time member of the Test side in the future.

"He's a great young guy," Hussey said. "I think he just loves being around the group at the moment. He is so young, there's so much time for him. All you can say is keep churning out the runs for New South Wales and when he gets his chance to play for Australia, keep showing everyone that he is good enough. I'm sure his opportunity is going to come up, where he'll make that position his own at some stage."

Hughes took a shine to the New Zealand pace attack in the second innings in Wellington, where the home bowlers took only five wickets for the match. James Franklin has been added to the New Zealand squad to replace the injured Daryl Tuffey and with some rain around in Hamilton two days out from the Test, the hosts faced a tough call on whether to use Franklin or the second spinner Jeetan Patel.

New Zealand lacked a spearhead in Wellington, where Chris Martin struggled for impact and his new-ball partner Tim Southee failed to take a wicket. The loss of Shane Bond and Iain O'Brien to Test retirement in the past few months has been a blow for New Zealand but Simon Katich, who saw plenty of the seamers in his innings of 79 and 18 not out, said there were still challenges for Australia's top order.

"There's no doubt those two are big losses, Bond with his pace but also O'Brien, he has bowled well against us in the past and he was able to bowl at a lively pace and moved the ball," Katich said. "Both those guys are big losses to their attack. But their guys posed problems for us the other day. We had the best of the conditions batting first, there was a bit of hard work to be done early."

New Zealand must also decide on what to do with their batting line-up, with Peter Ingram under pressure having failed in both innings at the Basin Reserve. The veteran Mathew Sinclair and the teenager Kane Williamson are in the mix to come in to the side, although the conditions closer to Saturday will help determine the balance of the team.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bagman on March 29, 2010, 10:32 GMT

    More importantly mate, you've gotta earn a baggy green.

  • dummy4fb on March 26, 2010, 5:52 GMT

    Id stay with the same team. Hughes will get his chance sooner or later. He is still quite young.

  • dummy4fb on March 26, 2010, 3:43 GMT

    to be honest you have to go with a younger line up for the future. sure keep hussey in the team as he's experienced and is the 'glue' in the middle order. but perhaps aussie should consider giving smith a go against nz, nz have the worst test batting line up theyve had for years and thats coming from a kiwi in myself. keep hughes, he's talented and just needs to find his feet in test cricket. north is getting old and watching him bat... well to be honest, is unbeleivably boring. he also doesnt have as bigger future in the game as hughes clearly does.

  • Rev0408 on March 26, 2010, 3:28 GMT

    JonnyBoy777 - any hammering coming your way will because that is a poorly balanced side, not because you're a Kiwi. Why would you pick so many batsmen in a team that scores runs, but occasionally struggles to find 20 wickets? That tail is ridiculous, though they'll probably never lose a game seeing how you have guys who can/have scored centuries all the way down to no. 10. WJStryder is on the money - Ponting should drop down the order as he gets older, although the stubborn bugger probably won't.

  • onlinegamer55 on March 26, 2010, 2:21 GMT

    Paullie: You assert that Hughes was "found out" by the poms, but all that is just nonsense if you ask me. Ponting was apparently "found out" by Roach to have a "weakness" against the short ball. Suppose Ponting was axed within three failures (or even 6 failures) because of this apparent "weakness"? That's what happened to Hughes. Every batsmen gets "found out" now and then, but you've got to give the batsmen time to fight back. That's exactly what Ponting did; people began to suggest that he should retire, but he hit back with a double ton. Hughes was incorrectly given out on 34 against England, and dropped subsequently; suppose he was given not out? He could well have scored a ton and put all this "technique nonsense" to bed. You say that South Africa couldn't "find him out", but Dale Steyn is the best bowler in the world, and has found out Gautam Gambhir (a world-class opener), who averages 27 against him, within one test. Shouldn't he have done that to Hughes as well? He couldn't!

  • dummy4fb on March 26, 2010, 0:56 GMT

    Shane Watson is a poser. He should not be in the Australian top 4 and should not be rushed back into the side. All he manages to do is loft straight drives and swing through the line of a short ball. His only value is reverse swing, and he is better of teaching someone else to do it. Vote 1 - No more Watson.

  • MinusZero on March 26, 2010, 0:30 GMT

    North should never have been selected for the first test. Now he has scored a century he has a free ride to fail for the next ten tests. I wish the selectors would have some guts to make decisions and stop being influenced by Pontings mates club. Australia will suffer the same fate as the West Indies if they dont bring in the young players and give them time to prove themselves. Hughes was dropped while averaging 47 after 6 tests. North was averaging 36 after 13 and was retained. Work that one out. I am still not convinced by Watson, one century in 29 innings is not world standard. Ponting has one in 1 and Hussey one in 7. One in 29?? I am so sick of the boys club. Look at India, they give their players a start young, wasn't Tendulkar 16 in his first test? Despite the retirements of Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman looming, they have been bringing through young players to ensure their future standing at the top of the game.

  • jaztech on March 25, 2010, 23:12 GMT

    The problem with Hughes is that while he may very well be an opener for the future, right now he's super streaky and plays poorly against the short ball. It's almost embarrassing to watch. He caught so many outside edges, inside edges, and catchable heights just wide of fielders in that 80 odd against the Kiwis that he was lucky to make 20 runs. What he needs is another 2 or 3 years playing state cricket and refining his technique a bit. Bring him back when Katich retires in a few years. One of the main reasons for Australia success over the last 7-8 years has been stability and consistency at the top of the order. Hughes, at the moment, can not provide that.

  • anshu.sunny on March 25, 2010, 20:55 GMT

    Drop North immediately n bring watto in his place...

    Hussey is ur glue..u drop him...u r gone... Hughes is ur future opener ..persist wth him..North is no hussey...n an allrounder in his place is far more useful than keeping juggling ur openers

  • dummy4fb on March 25, 2010, 19:26 GMT

    i think hughes should be retained in australia squad and shane watson also

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