Watson unlikely to bowl during first Ashes Test, says Craig McDermott

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“We will wait until the day before the game to see where he is with his bowling”

Australia fast bowling coach Craig McDermott has revealed that all-rounder Shane Watson is unlikely to bowl during the first Ashes Test in Brisbane since he is still recovering from a low-grade hamstring strain he suffered during the seventh and final ODI against India.

McDermott added that there was no need to rush Watson back into bowling as Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle have all been excelling in the nets as of late.

“We will wait until the day before the game to see where he is with his bowling,” McDermott said. “But he hasn’t bowled so far. To rip him straight into a Test match would be pretty difficult at this stage.”

McDermott also took the opportunity to praise Johnson, stating that he was been impressed with the left-arm fast bowler’s fiery pace, control and late swing.

“He’s in a really good space mentally, very confident about what he’s doing and that’s a great place for him to be at the moment,” McDermott said. “The last two days he’s bowled really well and really fast, so that’s one great thing.

“We’ve got a great bowling attack – Ryan Harris is figures-wise the best bowler in Australia of all time almost, Sidds is in the top five in the world and you don’t get there by not bowling well, and Mitchell’s now back to his best, bowling fast and swinging the ball. That puts us in good stead for Thursday.”

Upon returning as Australia’s fast bowling coach, McDermott revealed that he went to meet with Johnson in Perth.

While there, McDermott was delighted to see Johnson bowling with more passion and in unison with the other bowlers instead of trying to be a hero by putting the entire workload on his shoulders.

“I didn’t really go there to work with him, it was more to have a chat with him and watch him bowl in a game and see how everything was going for him,” McDermott said. “I think Mitchell can be bowled in both ways, whether it be impact bowling and that depends on the game situation and who’s batting at the time, but I think he can be used in both ways.

“Certainly his control has been very good the past two days, and with the new ball if we can get him swinging that new ball, which he’s shown he can do at training, 150km/h inswingers are pretty tough to keep out, and if he only swings the odd one even better, because then the batsman doesn’t know which one he has to play at.”

Australia have also been given an encouraging sign for the future as both Jackson Bird and James Pattinson returned to bowling in the nets after sustaining back injuries.

However, McDermott noted that it is highly unlikely both bowlers will feature in the upcoming Ashes series as they still have a long way to go before they are 100 per cent fit.

“Jackson’s progressing but he’s still been working on some technical things that I’m not 100% happy with at the moment,” McDermott said. “So we just want to keep working on those over the coming weeks and certainly don’t want to rush him in any shape or form from that point of view.

“Patto’s rehab work and the couple of changes that we’ve made to his technique have come along nicely, he’s only off about six steps or so at the moment, so he’s got a fair way to go. I’m in no rush for him to be back, he’s in his early 20s and can be a 10-year bowler for Australia or more, so I’m not keen to rush him until we’ve got it exactly right … otherwise I haven’t done my job.”

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