Australia in South Africa 2013-14 February 7, 2014

Watson carrying calf niggle


Shane Watson will again test the recuperative powers of Australia's medical and fitness staff after it was revealed that he had been carried a calf niggle through the first week of the tour of South Africa.

While he has batted with freedom in the nets and trained each day, Watson is yet to deliver a ball on tour and will again be absent from the crease on day one of the intra-squad practice fixture at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

"Shane Watson's had some calf tightness so he won't bowl today but will bowl again in the next couple of days building up to the Test," Team doctor Peter Brukner said. "He'll play in the game today and will be fine for the Test match."

The niggle is something of a concern for Australia as Watson's swing and seam is considered an important element of their planning for the series against the world's No. 1 side.

He enjoyed considerable success with the ball on Australia's last visit in 2011, including the spell that doomed South Africa to being bowled out for 96 on day two of the Cape Town Test, before they rebounded to raze the tourists for 47.

Hamstring and calf problems related to bowling have dogged Watson for long tracts of his career, but there has been notable improvement in his ability to come back from them within a few days or even within matches since Brukner's addition to the medical team in 2013.

Twice on last year's Ashes tour, Watson suffered a calf complaint but was still able to play all five Tests and bowl, albeit at a reduced pace. He also kept his place for all five Tests of the 5-0 sweep of England at home despite suffering similar trouble before the first Test in Brisbane and during the fourth in Melbourne.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Thomas on February 8, 2014, 5:56 GMT

    The title of the article should read: "Australia has a niggling injury called Watson." For nine years the test team has carried this mediocre and injury prone player. Back to #6 for God's sake, please!

  • Android on February 7, 2014, 22:58 GMT

    Please just drop him already

  • Dummy4 on February 7, 2014, 15:07 GMT

    You can bet your last penny that Watson will bowl. It is all a ploy by Australia to surprise the Proteas. If he indeed cannot bowl, then the work load will obviously be more for the other bowlers. Anyway, due to the rains we had every day for the last seven days the pitch will be lively and green and whatever team batting first will need only three seamers.

  • ToneMalone on February 7, 2014, 12:43 GMT

    If Watson can't bowl, Australia will need to include Moises Henriques in the side to increase its bowling depth. South Africa's batsmen will not fold like England, and Australia's recent success has relied heavily on using Johnson in short spells and managing Harris's workload. Spare a thought for James Faulkner - were he not injured he'd be a shoo-in and arguably should be in Australia's best XI anyway!

    No point speculating whether Watson would be selected as a specialist batsman, rightly or wrongly you can bet your house he'll be coming in at the fall of the first wicket if he's fit enough to hold a bat.

  • Aidan on February 7, 2014, 9:59 GMT

    In regards to the title headline.. what's new

  • Dummy4 on February 7, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    watson will bat 3. period!

  • Xiong on February 7, 2014, 8:43 GMT

    Here we go again...

    I have a feeling Watson is going to be the player found most wanting on this tour. Mentally preparing for his complete failure already.

  • Android on February 7, 2014, 8:38 GMT

    i think he will be fit by the time ipl starts

  • Cliffontong on February 7, 2014, 8:38 GMT

    Watson carrying calf niggle.... is this news? Unfortunate for the player but he's permanently on the table.

  • Matt on February 7, 2014, 8:30 GMT

    "Shane Watson carrying niggle". That's not a story. "Shane Watson makes it from bed to the shower without pulling a hammy". THAT would be a headline story.

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