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January 16, 2014
A fatigued Shane Watson will miss the majority of the ODI series against England after being granted a longer period of rest than first planned by Australia's selectors. Originally slated to return to the limited overs squad for the SCG match on Sunday after missing Friday's Gabba fixture, Watson will now be absent until the final match, in Adelaide on January 26.
To cover for Watson's absence, the Victoria and Brisbane Heat allrounder Daniel Christian has been recalled to the ODI team for his first taste of international cricket since the being part of the squad for the most recent World Twenty20 event in Sri Lanka in 2012.
Watson suffered a groin strain on day one of the Boxing Day Ashes Test, and while he was rehabilitated successfully enough to take part in the rest of that match and also the final Test at the SCG, the coach Darren Lehmann said it had been decided that he needs additional time to recharge ahead of a challenging Test match assignment in South Africa following the England matches.
Evidence of this was clear for all in the first ODI at the MCG, where Watson bowled five expensive overs and was dismissed for a duck.
"Given Shane's workload in the past 12 months we consider it would be beneficial for him to have a longer break and continue his training program at home in Sydney ahead of the final ODI and the tour of South Africa," Lehmann said. "Dan Christian, who has been in excellent form in recent weeks, has been added to the ODI Squad to provide an all-round option in Shane's absence."
Australia's management of Watson has been careful this summer, aimed at extracting the most out of the allrounder in between his frequent injury lay-offs. A hamstring complaint during the ODI tour of India that preceded the Ashes had reduced his ability to bowl at top pace early in the series, though he still contributed useful spells in addition to his batting.
The addition of the team doctor Peter Brukner to Australia's support staff has been hugely significant for Watson's progress, his expertise and use of dry needling techniques allowing Watson on several occasions to rebound from a muscle strain far more quickly than he had done in the past.
"There's no doubt that this certainly has been a new thing for me. Previously with this sort of injury it has nearly put me out for the summer in the past," Watson said earlier this summer. "I'd continue to re-injure it and then it's a struggle from there. It gives me confidence that if something does go slightly wrong, I've got more chance to come back."
Lehmann has stated previously his strong desire for Watson to be capable of bowling at all times, while also making it widely known that he would prefer his Australian teams to include five bowling options wherever possible, the better to lighten to load on the team's pacemen.
Australia's ODI squad had been named for the first three contests of the series and will be refreshed, with an eye on the South Africa Test matches to come, after the SCG match on Sunday.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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