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

Watson in doubt for first Test against New Zealand

Brydon Coverdale at the Wanderers

November 19, 2011

Comments: 41 | Text size: A | A

Shane Watson leaves the field after pulling his hamstring, South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Johannesburg, 1st day, November 17, 2011
Shane Watson had to leave the field after injuring his hamstring on the first day at the Wanderers © Getty Images

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

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Posted by   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.

Posted by 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

Posted by 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...

Posted by 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...

Posted by 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

Posted by 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?

Posted by 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

Posted by 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.)

Posted by   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.

Posted by 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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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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