South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Johannesburg, 3rd day November 19, 2011

Watson in doubt for first Test against New Zealand

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Shane Watson has conceded that he is in doubt for the first Test against New Zealand and even if he does play, he will be unable to bowl. Watson left the field on the first day at the Wanderers after he strained his right hamstring while bowling and while he was able to bat and run between the wickets well enough to score 88 in Australia's first innings, the injury remains a concern.

That leaves Australia with three of their best players in danger of missing the Gabba Test against New Zealand, which begins in 11 days. The new No. 3, Shaun Marsh, flew home from South Africa after injuring his back during the loss in Cape Town, while the in-form fast bowler Ryan Harris has also returned to Australia to deal with a hip problem.

But neither of those men would be as big a loss as Watson, who is the team's vice-captain, opening batsman and an important wicket-taking change bowler. Watson said it was important over the next two days that he balanced pushing for a victory to help Australia level the series with ensuring he does no further damage to the hamstring.

"With running between wickets it's [a matter of] not pushing it too hard. I don't want to make it worse and rule myself out for longer at the start of the summer," Watson said. "I am trying to find a balance between getting through this Test match and contributing as much as I can, even if it is only with the bat, and not doing too much damage so I give myself a chance of playing in Brisbane.

"Most probably bowling will be out in Brisbane but we will just have to wait and see. I am going to get a scan done after this Test to see the extent [of the injury] but hopefully it won't be a significant one. Hopefully it will only put me out for a little while. When I've strained hamstrings in the past it's taken a little bit of time once it's healed for me to get back to a full bowling workload, so hopefully it won't be too long."

Watson was forced to bat without a runner in the first innings - the ICC abolished runners earlier this year - and depending on the target Australia need to chase he could have a heavy responsibility over the final two days at the Wanderers. He said it was important that after this match was over Australia's medical staff made the right call on whether he should play at the Gabba.

"That is going to be a decision that we talk to Alex [Kountouris], our physio, about. Hopefully the worst-case scenario is that I can play as a batsman without any chance of it flaring up and delaying my bowling comeback. I'm very confident we will get the decision right but we need to get it right."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on November 22, 2011, 12:32 GMT

    If Watto is not fully fit......... dont enforce him to play against NZ. We will desperately need him against India. We can have Warner as an option for NZ series.Even though Khwaja can also open the inning if Shaun is fit.

  • zenboomerang on November 22, 2011, 6:09 GMT

    @featurewriter... have you forgotten to look at the long term weather forecast?... Rain here for the next week... On recent form the pitch will be a fast bowlers paradise... Like your team, though Johnson has no form & would prefer Harris (if fit), Butterworth or Starc

  • zenboomerang on November 22, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    @RandyOZ... yes agree... Lyon hasn't bowled badly considering his level of experience & is in the team as an attacting spinner... Hope the selectors give him a go throughout the summer... Though I still don't know why the selectors picked him before O'Keefe who has experience, form as a good spinner & can get some useful runs at times... Surely SS experience has to mean something...

  • zenboomerang on November 22, 2011, 4:57 GMT

    @Meety... Your comment about the Gabba being bone-dry recently doesn't stack up... Have you been down to the ground in recent weeks... As green as... No water restrictions... Rain/Showers/Thunderstorms forecast for Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon... The Kiwis will be lucky to get in 3 days of cricket at Allan Border Field against Australia A... I'll be in the pavilion at ABF & grandstand at the Gabba... Hopefully we get a few hot/dry days on Tues/Wed next week before the Test... Expect the Gabba wicket to do a lot in the first 3 days... Pacemens dream pitch...

  • Dashgar on November 22, 2011, 0:49 GMT

    A few people calling for Peter Siddle to be the only man dropped from the team. How short are your memories. We made 47 a game ago. We need to change up this batting order. It's time for Hughes, Ponting, Haddin and Johnson to go. My team Marsh/Khawaja, Cowan, Bailey, Clarke, Hussey, Faulkner, Cutting, Harris/Siddle, Cummins, Lyon

  • Meety on November 21, 2011, 23:53 GMT

    @ featurewriter - I think it will be dry, hard & fast with plenty of bounce (more variable than usual maybe). Not sure about no spinner - given Warney success there & not sure about leaving Siddle out, he got hat trick at the Gabba last year. In fact I'm not sure now about the bowling attack, I think the 1st man selected is Cummins, & I think 2nd is Cutting - that's obvious (to me anyway) - the remaining 2 spots will be an interesting debate amongst the selectors. I think Pup will want to retain the Jo'burg attack! Lets face it - the Saffas only once past 300 (just), so its really about the batting?

  • thebigone on November 21, 2011, 21:44 GMT

    ozzies doing well by end of their summer will be pressing for 3rd position with india. tbo

  • featurewriter on November 21, 2011, 7:07 GMT

    The Gabba is going to be a dry, hard pitch for the NZ Test. With Watson, Marsh and Harris out, I'd love to see Warner and Cutting or Swan in (considering Khawaja is already in). Hughes, Warner, Khawaja, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Haddin, Johnson, Cummins, Cutting, Copeland. (I'd forgo a spinner on the Gabba this summer; it's that dry.)

  • dummy4fb on November 21, 2011, 7:01 GMT

    How about Queensland openner Ryan Broad to replace Watson at the top. Hes 29 and seems to be a mature batman. Perfect chance to play to him at Brisbane his home ground? My 12 for first test against New Zealand is 1:Broad 2:Hughes, 3:Khawaja,4:Clarke, 5:Hussey 6:Ponting, 7:Haddin,8:Johnson, 9:Copeland,10:Cummins 11: Lyon 12: Bailey . Give Broad a chance.

  • RandyOZ on November 21, 2011, 5:56 GMT

    Lyon has kept taking his 2 wickets and in my opinion is doing his job on green tops. He needs a bit more of a chance in the side. Siddle and Johnson simply have to go. harris, cummins, cutting and lyon would be an awesome attack. Hughes needs to stay there.

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