Australia are hopeful of Shane Watson being fit for next week's second Test in Hamilton after he was ruled out of the series opener in Wellington due to a strain to his right hip. Watson's injury allowed Phillip Hughes to make an unexpected return to Test cricket at the Basin Reserve but with eight days until the Hamilton Test, Watson should be fit to resume his place.
"He was close to playing here," the team physio Alex Kountouris said. "He still has to be able to bat and get through all the things he has to do. It's very specific though. He could probably do 80% of what he needs to do, but not 100% and the things he can't do are quite important to him."
The problem is around Watson's right glute, where he was hit by Shane Bond during the fourth ODI in Auckland when he missed an attempted pull. Although Watson played the fifth ODI, the injury worsened during Australia's training sessions in Wellington this week.
"He played the fifth one and batted and that was fine," Kountouris said. "He could feel it bowling a little bit and batting a little bit. It's just slowly got sorer and sorer as time has progressed. On our first training session [in Wellington] he found it very difficult to bat and it was quite painful. He's got a little strain in that area where he got hit on his glute."
Kountouris compared the injury to the elbow problem that Ricky Ponting suffered when he was hit by a Kemar Roach bouncer in December. He said Watson was at risk of aggravating the injury if he worked the area too hard.
"It's a little bit like Ricky's injury with Roach, where he got hit and afterwards, every time you try to contract that muscle it gets quite painful and you can tear little fibres," he said. "So he's got a little muscle strain now as a result of the trauma. Batting is what's hurting, so we didn't even test him bowling at this stage. He couldn't even get through the batting at training, so if he couldn't do that, then there's no point pushing him any further."
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo