Harris and Watson may miss final Test

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Harris and Watson will have to be fully fit before January 3

Australia head coach Darren Lehmann has revealed that pace bowler Ryan Harris and all-rounder Shane Watson may miss the final Ashes Test in Sydney due to injuries.

Watson is currently recovering from a groin strain he picked up in the fourth Test in Melbourne, which Australia won by eight wickets, while Harris is nursing a knee injury.

“If he [Harris] is not fit he won’t play, if he is fit he will play,” Lehmann said. “We go the same path all the time. I would say he is doubtful but until we see the medical staff and see how he recovers – the extra day gives us five-day turn around – but we will have to wait and see … It’s everything [in his body] with him. He is a valuable bowler so we won’t take any risks. But if he is fit and can get through and do a job for his captain he will play.

“His speeds were still up there, so that’s what we judge the bowling on. He didn’t have to bowl as much as we thought, either. So that was a lucky thing in terms of the extra day off, or the extra two days off basically. That’s helpful leading into a Sydney Test match. Again it will depend on the wicket and what we do. But he didn’t bowl as much as we would have thought here.”

If Harris were to be ruled out for the final Test, then the national selectors would have to replace him with either Doug Bollinger or Nathan Coulter-Nile.

“They’ve got wickets for a start,” Lehmann said. “But also the pleasing thing is the pace. They’ve got some velocity. That’s a really big area for us in our bowling attack. You need to have speed against players these days. Gone are the days when you can bowl 125kph. You need to be 140 if you possibly can. Speed’s a really big issue, especially in Australia where you need some velocity on the ball. Mitchell Johnson has shown that. We’re looking for blokes who bowl with some pace.”

James Faulkner is likely to take Watson’s place if he does not fully recover in time for the final Test, which gets underway on January 3.

“What I will say is that he obviously batted very well today and got us across the line, so that was pleasing,” Lehmann said. “I think Shane would admit he’s been a little bit disappointed with his output at number three. At the end of the day he’s an allrounder, has to bowl. But we’ll have to have a look at the Sydney wicket and assess all those situations and assess how he’s going. If he’s not right to do both then we have to look at that. But that’s a selection issue we’ll come to in the next couple of days.”

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