Watson unlikely to play second Test against South Africa

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“We’ll have to see if he’s fit and ready to play, and then we’ll make a decision”

Australia all-rounder Shane Watson is unlikely to play in the second Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth as he has not sufficiently recovered from his calf injury.

Watson was forced to miss the first Test as he was struggling to bat, bowl and run due to the injury.

However, even though Watson has started running and batting once again, he has still yet to bowl a single delivery.

Australia head coach Darren Lehmann made it clear that he wanted Watson to be at full capacity if he were to be considered for selection.

“We’ll have to see if he’s fit and ready to play, and then we’ll make a decision,” Lehmann said. “That’s what we did with the touring party and with this Test match, the next Test match is the same.

“It’s always very hard to fit him in if you’re winning. We don’t like to change the side too much, but if he’s fit and ready to go we’ll have to wait and see.

“You’d like him to bowl. Firstly we’ve got to get him fit, then we’ll see what happens from there. From my point of view we’ve got to get him fit. He’s pretty close. He was running [on Saturday], but at the end of the day we’ve got to get him fit and right and ready to go to play cricket at this level.”

Even though Australia won the first Test by 281 runs, Lehmann is not celebrating yet since South Africa still have a chance to win the series.

“It’s a three-match series, it’s pretty important isn’t it?” he said. “If it’s a five-match series then obviously you would like to win the first one but it’s not as important as it is in a three-match series. It was a great result for us, away from home. We spoke about that at the start of the tour…that you have to start winning away from home to get noticed and climb up the ranks and be respected by your opponents, but also play the brand of cricket you want to play. We need to do that day-in, day-out. That’s no different next week.”

Lehmann was impressed with Australia’s performance throughout the first Test, especially their fielding, which was nothing less than first-class.

“Obviously we caught very well in this game – I don’t think we put down a catch, so that’s good,” Lehmann said. “The pleasing one for me is at nine down when Chris Rogers dived for the boundary. That means the hunger [is there]. That’s what we want from our side. Each and every day we represent Australia we want to have that hunger and drive to play the best we can. At nine down…when you’re seeing blokes dive, I like [that].

“I’m proud of everything we did, we ticked off everything we wanted to do in this game, now it’s a case of backing it up.”

Even though pace bowler Ryan Harris looked to be struggling with his chronic knee problems in the first Test, Lehmann was confident that he would bounce back and have a larger impact in the second Test.

“He struggled a bit,” Lehmann conceded. “I think not playing for a while hampered him a little bit. But he certainly bowled better [second innings], in his second spell, it was a bit more like the Ryan Harris we know. So I expect him to get better.”

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