Watson ruled out of Zimbabwe series
Shane Watson will miss Australia's one-day tour of Zimbabwe after stepping on a ball and rolling his ankle at training in Brisbane on Saturday. Watson will be replaced in Australia's squad by Phillip Hughes, who was unlucky to miss out on selection when the original touring party was announced, having just become the first Australian to score a List A double-century.
The Australian camp is hopeful Watson will be fit for the series against Pakistan in the UAE in October, but he was unlikely to recover in time for any of the triangular series involving Zimbabwe and South Africa. Australia's one-day squad had convened in Brisbane for several days of training ahead of their departure for Zimbabwe on Wednesday.
"Shane today unfortunately sprained his right ankle at training, damaging an ankle ligament," Alex Kountouris, the team physio, said. "His ankle is currently swollen and sore, but expected to recover with a period of rest.
"Due to the compact nature of the tour, we've made a decision that Shane would be unlikely to recover sufficiently in time for the series. He will return to Sydney in coming days to continue his recovery and be ready for the tour of the UAE."
Watson had been likely to open the batting with Aaron Finch in Zimbabwe, in the absence of David Warner, who is remaining at home to prepare for the birth of his first child. Watson's injury will provide an opportunity for Hughes to press his ODI claims ahead of the World Cup and he will embark on the tour in strong one-day form after the recent Australia A series in Darwin.
It was there that Hughes scored an unbeaten 202 against South Africa A in late July, but he was surprisingly left out of the one-day squad when it was announced a few days later. The selectors had opted for a squad heavy on allrounders and light on specialist batsmen, and a "really disappointed" Hughes remained with Australia A for their ongoing four-day series against South Africa A.
"With Shane ruled out for the tour, the national selection panel clearly feels the natural player to come in is Phil Hughes," Rod Marsh, the chairman of selectors, said. "As I've said previously, Phil was unlucky not to be picked in the initial squad after showing some great form in the Australia A series and was the natural choice to come in for Shane.
"The NSP is very happy with the bowling depth in the squad but Watson's absence has meant another top-order batsman is necessary."
Hughes was overlooked as a limited-overs player for the first few years of his international career despite strong domestic one-day form, and when he was finally called up for his debut in January last year, he began with two centuries in his first series. However, he was dropped after the tour of India in November last year, with Finch, Warner, Shaun Marsh and Watson all used at the top of the order in the home summer.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale