Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 1st day December 25, 2013

Injury removes Watson from field

20

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 here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ScottStevo on December 27, 2013, 23:33 GMT

    Why does Faulkner even get mentioned when discussing Watson? Almost as if there are some here who actually consider him to be a top order batsman, which is what Watson's role in the side is. On top of which, Faulkner is NOT a test quality bowler and is barely a test #8 batsman. A few slogs in an Indian run-fest doesn't make a test batsman. Nor do his ridiculously inflated shield bowling stats. Also, it's worth noting that Watson scored a century in the innings prior to today's, but the haters conveniently forget that. He was also 5th highest run scorer of both sides in this series prior to the start of this test and has bowled beautifully for a 5th bowler. If we do drop Watson, Faulkner isn't the solution, we'd need a top order batsman as it's currently our weakest discipline and removing a specialist batsman for a bowler who may be able to bat a bit would be farcical to say the least...

  • on December 27, 2013, 0:20 GMT

    It has to be realised that genuine all rounders only come arounf once every so often. Our last genuine allrounder was probably Greg Matthews and before that Richie Benaud. We have been lucky to have had a number of batsmen who could bowl but they weren't allrounders.

  • on December 26, 2013, 22:51 GMT

    Clarke should bat at 3 and if Sydney looks like a turner maybe Ashton Agar should be given another crack.

  • Mervo on December 26, 2013, 22:49 GMT

    Silk is the man of the future. Smart and with a good technique. Consign Hughes to those who never could make the jump.

  • blink182alex on December 26, 2013, 22:32 GMT

    Don't understand all these negative comments about Watson on here. I think for sure he hasn't fulfilled his potential with the bat in tests. He looks so devastating in one-dayers and yet gets stuck at times in tests.

    But as for his bowling, i would say he is bowling as well as he ever has, he just bowls line and length and offers so much control. When he comes on the scoring rate just stops and lets up put pressure back on with the likes of Harris and Johnson. He would be a big loss if he is out for Sydney, and i wouldn't try and go like for like with an Henriques type replacement. Get a proper batter in at 3 if he's injured.

  • Shaggy076 on December 26, 2013, 22:23 GMT

    What is the issue he has contributed with the ball and will still bat. Its only a niggle and he will probably be right come Sydney. 2 tons in last 4 games and crucial wickets so he has been in pretty good form of late. If he is out is Sydney need to replace him with someone who can bat at 3 and the only choice is Hughes.

  • drfarnsworth on December 26, 2013, 21:56 GMT

    CricketChat - A lot of people have been saying that for the last 5 years. All his injuries are from bowling, so isn't it logical to stop bowling, or at least restrict him to a few overs per innings every now and then? Or better yet, drop him from the Test side because as a bowler he can't be relied upon due to these injuries and as a top order batsman, 4 centuries in 50 Tests is terrible as well as averaging just over 30 the last few years.

  • CricketChat on December 26, 2013, 19:39 GMT

    Watson shouldn't bowl in tests or ODIs, but only in T20s. Most of his recent injuries are all bowling related. Just play him as a batsman only.

  • on December 26, 2013, 18:32 GMT

    @Mitty2 Faulkner is clearly a talented ODI player but as yet he's played only 1 Test match. Difficult to judge what he might achieve in the longer form of the game based on that, surely? Watson is a very useful member of the Australian team who gets criticised (endlessly) for under achieving but he is a top notch containing bowler (which is the job requirement), chips in with wickets (and good ones) at important times and is obviously one of the greatest hitters of the ball in world cricket. His Test averages of 36 with the bat and 32 with the ball are pretty decent by any standards, as evidenced by his rating as one of the top 6 all rounders currently playing.

  • on December 26, 2013, 14:32 GMT

    Faulkner for Watson might not be a bad swap for Sydney. On current form, Faulkner won't be a worse batter than Watson and may prove a better bowler. The only problem would be who should bat at 3.

  • ScottStevo on December 27, 2013, 23:33 GMT

    Why does Faulkner even get mentioned when discussing Watson? Almost as if there are some here who actually consider him to be a top order batsman, which is what Watson's role in the side is. On top of which, Faulkner is NOT a test quality bowler and is barely a test #8 batsman. A few slogs in an Indian run-fest doesn't make a test batsman. Nor do his ridiculously inflated shield bowling stats. Also, it's worth noting that Watson scored a century in the innings prior to today's, but the haters conveniently forget that. He was also 5th highest run scorer of both sides in this series prior to the start of this test and has bowled beautifully for a 5th bowler. If we do drop Watson, Faulkner isn't the solution, we'd need a top order batsman as it's currently our weakest discipline and removing a specialist batsman for a bowler who may be able to bat a bit would be farcical to say the least...

  • on December 27, 2013, 0:20 GMT

    It has to be realised that genuine all rounders only come arounf once every so often. Our last genuine allrounder was probably Greg Matthews and before that Richie Benaud. We have been lucky to have had a number of batsmen who could bowl but they weren't allrounders.

  • on December 26, 2013, 22:51 GMT

    Clarke should bat at 3 and if Sydney looks like a turner maybe Ashton Agar should be given another crack.

  • Mervo on December 26, 2013, 22:49 GMT

    Silk is the man of the future. Smart and with a good technique. Consign Hughes to those who never could make the jump.

  • blink182alex on December 26, 2013, 22:32 GMT

    Don't understand all these negative comments about Watson on here. I think for sure he hasn't fulfilled his potential with the bat in tests. He looks so devastating in one-dayers and yet gets stuck at times in tests.

    But as for his bowling, i would say he is bowling as well as he ever has, he just bowls line and length and offers so much control. When he comes on the scoring rate just stops and lets up put pressure back on with the likes of Harris and Johnson. He would be a big loss if he is out for Sydney, and i wouldn't try and go like for like with an Henriques type replacement. Get a proper batter in at 3 if he's injured.

  • Shaggy076 on December 26, 2013, 22:23 GMT

    What is the issue he has contributed with the ball and will still bat. Its only a niggle and he will probably be right come Sydney. 2 tons in last 4 games and crucial wickets so he has been in pretty good form of late. If he is out is Sydney need to replace him with someone who can bat at 3 and the only choice is Hughes.

  • drfarnsworth on December 26, 2013, 21:56 GMT

    CricketChat - A lot of people have been saying that for the last 5 years. All his injuries are from bowling, so isn't it logical to stop bowling, or at least restrict him to a few overs per innings every now and then? Or better yet, drop him from the Test side because as a bowler he can't be relied upon due to these injuries and as a top order batsman, 4 centuries in 50 Tests is terrible as well as averaging just over 30 the last few years.

  • CricketChat on December 26, 2013, 19:39 GMT

    Watson shouldn't bowl in tests or ODIs, but only in T20s. Most of his recent injuries are all bowling related. Just play him as a batsman only.

  • on December 26, 2013, 18:32 GMT

    @Mitty2 Faulkner is clearly a talented ODI player but as yet he's played only 1 Test match. Difficult to judge what he might achieve in the longer form of the game based on that, surely? Watson is a very useful member of the Australian team who gets criticised (endlessly) for under achieving but he is a top notch containing bowler (which is the job requirement), chips in with wickets (and good ones) at important times and is obviously one of the greatest hitters of the ball in world cricket. His Test averages of 36 with the bat and 32 with the ball are pretty decent by any standards, as evidenced by his rating as one of the top 6 all rounders currently playing.

  • on December 26, 2013, 14:32 GMT

    Faulkner for Watson might not be a bad swap for Sydney. On current form, Faulkner won't be a worse batter than Watson and may prove a better bowler. The only problem would be who should bat at 3.

  • Beertjie on December 26, 2013, 12:20 GMT

    Agree @foozball on (December 26, 2013, 9:45 GMT) except I'd plump for Lynn/Hughes.

  • Mitty2 on December 26, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    @FFLNAH, probably referring to the SA v India game. @jimbond, 100%. And on top of having a spine, being durable, team-orientated and a far superior bowler, he actually prospers under pressure! In fact, as seen in a few of his ODI innings for Aus where he saved our behinds (one game vs WI and his India series) and as seen in many Tas innings (think Shield final) Faulkner actually can carry his bat and bats best under pressure. When was the last time Watson carried his bat? Hmm, that's right, never.

  • D.V.C. on December 26, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    Given the next Test is in Sydney, if Watson can't play Steven O'Keefe must be the replacement. The selectors removed him from a tour match with England presumably so they didn't get a look at him just in case. If they don't play him in these circumstances after that, then they better issue him with an apology for not giving him a chance to prove himself!

  • foozball on December 26, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    @Adam N Nicole Fahey knows his stuff - insightful comment! I'd hope for Silk, I reckon... I seem to recall Anderson having the measure of Doolan straight up on a docile hobart pitch?

  • on December 26, 2013, 8:26 GMT

    All your comment all mean well but if we pick J Faulkner who will bat at three?

  • on December 26, 2013, 7:08 GMT

    On a turning Sydney pitch, we're better off replacing Watson with a batsman (possibly one of Hughes, Khawaja, Silk or Doolan) and playing Smith as the 5th bowler/2nd spinner. Clarke and Warner can also send down a few overs if needed.

  • Gupta.Ankur on December 26, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    Watson is over-weight and he can never withstand the pressure of bowling unless he lightens up.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 26, 2013, 5:37 GMT

    @jimbond, "times of closely fought matches"? Have you been watching this series? If Watson can bat that's OK, it's not like we rely on his runs though!

  • on December 26, 2013, 5:09 GMT

    That is not good thing happened for Oz team. being an Indian Cricket Fan i do support other team's too cus cricket is a game of team not each player. Watson is an amazing player to watch and i love to see him back on the field and repeat the things for which he is known for .. boom boom watson. Come on watson

  • jimbond on December 26, 2013, 5:05 GMT

    Watson is a walking time bomb. Anytime he may go off and leave his team with just ten men, and in these times of closely fought matches- one man down may mean the difference between victory and defeat. Faulkner is nearly as good a bat as Watson and a much better bowler. A swap will only strengthen the Aussie team. Faulkner can bowl several overs, pitch in with a few wickets and help conserve the health of the fast men- which is something that Australia needs to do a lot in the next few years.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • jimbond on December 26, 2013, 5:05 GMT

    Watson is a walking time bomb. Anytime he may go off and leave his team with just ten men, and in these times of closely fought matches- one man down may mean the difference between victory and defeat. Faulkner is nearly as good a bat as Watson and a much better bowler. A swap will only strengthen the Aussie team. Faulkner can bowl several overs, pitch in with a few wickets and help conserve the health of the fast men- which is something that Australia needs to do a lot in the next few years.

  • on December 26, 2013, 5:09 GMT

    That is not good thing happened for Oz team. being an Indian Cricket Fan i do support other team's too cus cricket is a game of team not each player. Watson is an amazing player to watch and i love to see him back on the field and repeat the things for which he is known for .. boom boom watson. Come on watson

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 26, 2013, 5:37 GMT

    @jimbond, "times of closely fought matches"? Have you been watching this series? If Watson can bat that's OK, it's not like we rely on his runs though!

  • Gupta.Ankur on December 26, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    Watson is over-weight and he can never withstand the pressure of bowling unless he lightens up.

  • on December 26, 2013, 7:08 GMT

    On a turning Sydney pitch, we're better off replacing Watson with a batsman (possibly one of Hughes, Khawaja, Silk or Doolan) and playing Smith as the 5th bowler/2nd spinner. Clarke and Warner can also send down a few overs if needed.

  • on December 26, 2013, 8:26 GMT

    All your comment all mean well but if we pick J Faulkner who will bat at three?

  • foozball on December 26, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    @Adam N Nicole Fahey knows his stuff - insightful comment! I'd hope for Silk, I reckon... I seem to recall Anderson having the measure of Doolan straight up on a docile hobart pitch?

  • D.V.C. on December 26, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    Given the next Test is in Sydney, if Watson can't play Steven O'Keefe must be the replacement. The selectors removed him from a tour match with England presumably so they didn't get a look at him just in case. If they don't play him in these circumstances after that, then they better issue him with an apology for not giving him a chance to prove himself!

  • Mitty2 on December 26, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    @FFLNAH, probably referring to the SA v India game. @jimbond, 100%. And on top of having a spine, being durable, team-orientated and a far superior bowler, he actually prospers under pressure! In fact, as seen in a few of his ODI innings for Aus where he saved our behinds (one game vs WI and his India series) and as seen in many Tas innings (think Shield final) Faulkner actually can carry his bat and bats best under pressure. When was the last time Watson carried his bat? Hmm, that's right, never.

  • Beertjie on December 26, 2013, 12:20 GMT

    Agree @foozball on (December 26, 2013, 9:45 GMT) except I'd plump for Lynn/Hughes.