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December 25, 2013
Shane Watson's chances of a rare injury-free summer suffered a blow when he left the field with soreness in his right groin during the second session on Boxing Day. Watson was running in to bowl the fifth ball of his seventh over when he pulled up and grimaced, and after consulting the captain Michael Clarke, Watson immediately left the field.
Cricket Australia later tweeted that: "Shane Watson has some right groin pain and is currently being assessed by the medical staff on when he can return to the field." Watson returned to the field during the final session and fielded at slip, but it was unclear whether he would be able to bowl again in the match.
Watson had already played an important role in the Test by keeping the runs tight and removing the England opener Michael Carberry with an inswinger from around the wicket that took the top of off stump when Carberry shouldered arms. He had also contributed to the drying up of runs that kept England to 2.50 an over by tea; Watson had 1 for 11 from his 6.4 overs.
Although the severity of his injury was yet to be determined, the three-day turnaround between the Melbourne and Sydney Tests could place him in doubt for the SCG Test if a muscle problem is found. Watson also suffered an injury in the Boxing Day Test last year, and on that occasion the calf problem kept him out of the Sydney Test that followed, even though he was able to bat in the Melbourne Test after suffering the injury.
If Watson was unavailable for Sydney it would raise a difficult selection question for the Australians, for he occupies not only the No. 3 batting position but provides an important fifth bowling option and reduces the workload for the other fast men. The allrounder James Faulkner could be considered a straight swap, but as a bowling allrounder he would weaken the batting order.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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