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“He’s a huge player for us, so the sooner we can have Watto back I think the better for this team”
Australia captain Michael Clarke has announced that all-rounder Shane Watson has to be fit enough to bowl if he wants to be selected for the second Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.
Watson has been struggling with a calf injury since the start of the tour and was even forced to miss the first Test in Centurion after he had difficulty batting, bowling and running.
“The information I have from the selectors is if he’s not bowling he’ll be unavailable for selection,” Clarke said. “I don’t know the answer to that question [if it’s a change in policy]. You’ll probably have to ask Darren Lehmann and the other selectors. From the information I have they’ll only reselect him if he’s available to bowl.
“As soon as Watto is fit and available I know he’ll want to be back out on the park. I don’t know if you guys watched him in the nets but he’s creaming them at the moment. He’s a huge player for us, so the sooner we can have Watto back I think the better for this team.”
However, even if Watson is fully fit, it will be hard for him to regain his spot in the side, especially after Shaun Marsh and Alex Doolan’s performed extremely well during the first Test.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Clarke said. “Any time you’ve got a class allrounder available you’ve got to try and find some room. Fortunately I’m not a selector so I won’t have to make that call.
“The two guys that came in, Dools and Shaun, couldn’t have performed any better. They were outstanding. They’ve grabbed their opportunity with both hands. The guys who’ve been playing throughout the Ashes have done very well as well.”
One batsman who Watson has a slight chance replacing is Chris Rogers since he failed to have an impact in the first Test.
But, Clarke was quick to come to Rogers’ defence, saying: “I think Bucky is going well, he’s done a great job for us. He was the leading run-scorer if you combine both Ashes series. He’s scored two hundreds in his last two Tests of the Australian summer. They weren’t the easiest batting conditions the other day. He’s a opening batter, he’s got the hardest job in the game. Chris has done a fantastic job for us and I’m confident he’ll score runs for us in this Test.”
Clarke also believes that South Africa will replace all-rounder Ryan McLaren, who was ruled out of the second Test with a mild concussion, with batsman Dean Elgar.
“I think they will pick an extra batsman,” Clarke said. “I think if the wicket stays like it is, it will be a three-dayer, especially with two fantastic bowling attacks. So I don’t think it will stay like that, I think they will take something off it, but generally this wicket does does a bit and I think South Africa will go with an extra batter and back their three quicks and a spinner.”