The Ashes 2013-14 November 6, 2013

Watson not yet ruled out of Gabba Test


Shane Watson may yet play in the opening Ashes Test after scans showed his hamstring injury was only a low-grade strain, but his chances depend on how he responds to "intense treatment and rehabilitation" over the coming days. Watson suffered the injury while bowling during Australia's final ODI in India on Saturday, less than three weeks before the Gabba Test.

His availability in Brisbane will have ramifications for the balance of Australia's side, for if he is ruled out or unable to bowl, the selectors would need to consider another allrounder to provide an extra bowling option. Watson remains confident he will be fit to bowl during the Test, but Australia's physio Alex Kountouris said much would depend on the next few days.

"Since returning home from India, Shane has been assessed and had scans on his injured left hamstring, which confirm a low-grade muscle strain," Kountouris said. "He will have intense treatment and rehabilitation in Sydney over the coming days and just how well he responds to this will determine how quickly he can resume full training and match preparation.

"It goes without saying that Shane and the medical team will be doing everything possible to get him fit and available for selection ahead of the first Test. We'll be assessing him on a daily basis and expect to have a clearer picture of his progress later in the week."

Whatever the case, Watson is unlikely to have any first-class cricket before the Ashes opener, given that New South Wales have only one more Sheffield Shield match - against Queensland in Brisbane starting next Wednesday - before the Test. Watson ended the Ashes tour of England with 176 at The Oval, which effectively locked him in as the incumbent No.3 for the start of the home series.

If Watson is fit to bat and bowl, he would be expected to remain at first drop with another batsman, perhaps the Tasmania captain George Bailey, to slot in down the order. However, should Watson be ruled out it might affect Bailey's chances of a Test debut, for he is considered a middle-order player rather than a batsman who could fit in the top three.

In that case, Bailey's Tasmania team-mate Alex Doolan might be considered for his first Test as the No.3, while James Faulkner may take the allrounder's role and Brad Haddin could move up to No.6. However, as well as Watson's recovery over the next few days, the coming week will also provide clarity on the form of several batting contenders, with three Shield matches and an Australia A v England tour game all starting on Wednesday.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Scott on November 8, 2013, 15:38 GMT

    @Chris_P, apologies, oddly enough I included his tour games, which I'd envisage you'll be happy to accept ;-) Faulkner isn't up to test standard. Current form?! Aren't you looking at the prior season?!

  • subhasish on November 8, 2013, 4:46 GMT

    every one picking khawaja and huges to be picked i think both player is not reacdy for test cricket huges need to improve his leg side and also playing aganist the spinners .khawajw also need to improve playing spin to sucess in test cricket i think give some more year to devlop and then pick them but at the moment thy are not ready for test cricket .

  • subhasish on November 8, 2013, 4:41 GMT

    i pck doolan for watson for no3 and play berly at no6 spot.and plz clarke donot get ultra agresive set a diffrent field for batsmen and place a 3rd men for bell every one seen in last ashes bell score so many runs 3rd men .

  • Ray on November 7, 2013, 14:08 GMT

    @Mary_786 is right (at least, as far as this POM is concerned), I'll be happy if Watson plays no part in the forthcoming series.

    I can understand Aussie supporters' frustration with Watson: He's injured a lot - mind you, most of your players fit into that category - and he hasn't fulfilled his potential. He regularly gets out when apparantly set... but, as Mary points out, he does add balance to the team, as he's a quality bat and a more than useful bowler.

  • Shashank on November 7, 2013, 13:21 GMT

    If watto's not fit for the 1st test then silk is the better contender for his position but if he is fit to play: Warner, Rogers, Watson, Clarke, Smith, Bailey, Haddin, Johnson, Siddle, Harris, Lyon. Watson adds proper balance to the side. This is a perfect team combination of batsman & bowlers to blow up England 4-1

  • Steve on November 7, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    Aussies need not worry much if Watson is missing from test line up. His loss may be felt more in ODIs and T20s. Having watched in the recent Ashes series, I felt he just doesn't have the patience to build an innings. Untimely shots cost him and his team dearly time and again. Bailey should be tried after his overwhelming success with bat on India ODI tour. As a bonus, he could take over captaincy reins if Clarke becomes unavailable.

  • Daryl on November 7, 2013, 11:13 GMT

    Oz top 6. 1 Warner, ODI slogger, hit and miss player who is in good form. 2 Rogers, solid grafting player good temprement. 4 Clarke, pure class batsman. 5 Smith in good form lots of potential tendancy to swing bat at too much. As it stands positions 3&6 are up for grabs. Contenders are Bailey good ODI player but unteseted in long format, Watson, good allrounder great in ODI should not be playing tests unless fit to bowl, Faulkner another good allrounder better bowler than Watson and almost as good with the bat, but not a top 6 batsman (also ODI payer). With all but Clarke and Rogers and to some degree Smith we have more ODI specialists than test match batsman in our side we need more grit and graft in our order. I think Bailey could make it into the team at 6 as he has a good head on his shoulders and good temperament however we need someone who can bunker down and punch out a good innings in the team instead of another ODI player. Maybe Doolan or one out of the box Criss Lynn

  • David on November 7, 2013, 10:27 GMT

    Watson baggers pile on! Look at Watson's Test career from his return in 2009. Those 2 years were very productive, averaging almost 50 with bat, taking 1-2 wickets per game at 30. That is top class. And yet Aussie Watson sceptics still wonder aloud why Watson keeps getting a go. Yes he had a quiet couple of years in 2011 and 2012. But Michael Clarke had a quiet couple of years in those years when Watson was hot - it happens! You can't blame the selectors for continuing to pick Watson when he showed he could be a good Test all-rounder over that time, and has continued to be one of the best white ball players in the world since he started opening in 2008. I say stop screwing around with his batting position and he might perform more regularly. It's no coincidence Watson's average starting dipping as soon as they starting moving him around.

  • Richard on November 7, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    In the interests of Australian cricket, our Test side needs the best six batsmen this country can offer, our best wicketkeeper and our best four bowlers.

    'Variation' and 'balance' are the domain of champion sides, not those taking a punt on some mythological miracle to lift them from the current ranking of fifth, to first.

    The only time the best can be compromised is if none of the top 6 batsmen can bowl, because 5 bowlers is a necessity. I don't think Watson is a better option than Smith.

  • Peter on November 6, 2013, 23:56 GMT

    @ScottStevo. If you going to quote stats, get them right. Watson averaged 41 in the Ashes, scoring nearly half of his runs in one innings, the other 9 innings he batted he averaged 27 runs (actually about his career average for the past 3 years) so not sure what balance he is adding. His bowling is containment mode, he is 32 & on the way out. Maxwell is not up to test standard, but Faulkner is, Henrques, if nothing else has current form. Current form, now that is a radical way to select players I would suggest?

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