Australia in South Africa 2013-14 February 16, 2014

Watson unlikely for Port Elizabeth

Shane Watson will not return to Australia's Test XI in South Africa until he can bowl, effectively ruling him out of the second Test in Port Elizabeth where the tourists will hope to seal the series following their enormous victory over the bedraggled hosts at Centurion.

While Watson has returned to running and batted in Centurion's indoor nets towards the end of the Test, following a calf strain, he has not yet attempted to bowl and cannot be expected to push out any of the incumbent batsmen given their recent performances. The returning Shaun Marsh and debutant Alex Doolan each made telling contributions to the 281-run hiding, even if they were overshadowed by the brilliance of Mitchell Johnson on a pitch of variable bounce.

Australia's coach, Darren Lehmann, who rated the result alongside any he had been involved in away from home, expressed his preference for Watson being able to bowl before he returned, while also adding that it would be extremely difficult to change the combination that had so humbled Graeme Smith's side inside four days.

"We'll have to see if he's fit and ready to play, and then we'll make a decision. That's what we did with the touring party and with this Test match, the next Test match is the same," Lehman said. "It's always very hard to fit him in if you're winning. We don't like to change the side too much, but if he's fit and ready to go we'll have to wait and see.

"You'd like him to bowl. Firstly we've got to get him fit, then we'll see what happens from there. From my point of view we've got to get him fit. He's pretty close. He was running [on Saturday], but at the end of the day we've got to get him fit and right and ready to go to play cricket at this level."

Australia's ambush of South Africa on a ground where they had previously boasted a dominant record bore comparison to the seismic defeat of England in Brisbane to set the tone for a 5-0 Ashes sweep. However, Lehmann observed this match was of even greater import in the context of the series, as South Africa now had only two matches left to re-group.

"It's a three-match series, it's pretty important isn't it?" he said. "If it's a five-match series then obviously you would like to win the first one but it's not as important as it is in a three-match series. It was a great result for us, away from home. We spoke about that at the start of the tour ... that you have to start winning away from home to get noticed and climb up the ranks and be respected by your opponents, but also play the brand of cricket you want to play. We need to do that day-in, day-out. That's no different next week."

Apart from the efforts of Johnson, Marsh, Steven Smith, Doolan and David Warner, Lehmann also highlighted the committed and thorough nature of the team's fielding. Next to a South Africa side that looked rusty and vulnerable in the field, putting down numerous chances, the Australians did not miss a single one, and were still diving around as if their lives depended on it well after victory was in sight.

"Obviously we caught very well in this game - I don't think we put down a catch, so that's good," Lehmann said. "The pleasing one for me is at nine down when Chris Rogers dived for the boundary. That means the hunger [is there]. That's what we want from our side. Each and every day we represent Australia we want to have that hunger and drive to play the best we can. At nine down ... when you're seeing blokes dive, I like.

"I'm proud of everything we did, we ticked off everything we wanted to do in this game, now it's a case of backing it up."

One man Lehmann expected some improvement from in Port Elizabeth is Ryan Harris, who looked short of rhythm in the first innings before returning to his more familiar high standards in the second. At times he appeared to struggle with the chronic knee problem that will require surgery after this tour, but Lehmann reckoned he would be better for the run.

"He struggled a bit," Lehmann admitted. "I think not playing for a while hampered him a little bit. But he certainly bowled better [second innings], in his second spell, it was a bit more like the Ryan Harris we know. So I expect him to get better."

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

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