Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Australia all-rounder Shane Watson has been ruled out of the national team’s tour of the United Arab Emirates, where they will play Pakistan next month, due to a calf injury.
It has been announced that pace bowler Ben Hilfenhaus will replace him in the Test squad, while fellow seamer Kane Richardson will take his place on the ODI and Twenty20 roster.
However, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh is set to benefit the most, especially since he impressed the national selectors during the recent ODI tri-series against Zimbabwe and South Africa.
As a result, it is highly likely that Marsh will become Australia’s 438th Test cricketer.
Speaking about the decision to bring in Hilfenhaus and Richardson, national selector Rod Marsh said: “The selectors have opted for another pace option in Ben as we feel we have enough cover in the all-rounder position. He is an experienced bowler who has worked very hard to get himself back to peak fitness and we know how well he can bowl in tough conditions.
“Kane is a talented young player who had an excellent series for Australia A in July and didn’t disappoint in Zimbabwe earlier this month. He now has another opportunity to stake his claim at international level.”
This is not the first time Watson has been ruled out of a series due to a calf injury. In fact, he missed Australia’s tour of South Africa in March due to the same problem. He was also forced to skip the Test series against South Africa and Sri Lanka in 2012-13 and missed all six home Tests in 2011-12 with a calf and hamstring problem.
He was also ruled out of the recent ODI tri-series, but that was due to the fact that he stepped on a cricket ball and injured his ankle during a training session in Brisbane.
“Whilst Shane has made steady progress with his rehabilitation after he stepped on a ball and sprained his ankle, he has suffered a setback, experiencing some right calf soreness,” Australia physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said. “As Shane has previously had similar calf injuries, we plan to hold back his return to running and bowling for approximately seven to ten days.
“The unfortunate timing of this calf injury will mean that his preparation for the UAE tour will be considerably affected and he would have been unavailable for the T20 and ODI part of the tour and significantly limit his bowling preparation for the Test matches.”
Watson stated that he was gutted to be missing yet another tour due to a calf problem, but vowed to bounce back better and stronger than ever.
“I’m naturally disappointed because I was desperate to play against Pakistan which is our opportunity to get back to number one in Test and one-day international cricket,” Watson said. “Despite my strong desire to be on the tour, I understand why the selectors have made this decision.
“Given I can’t be with the boys, my goal now is to work as hard as I can to get back to 100% fitness so that I can make myself available for selection ahead of our series against South Africa in November. I’ve been here before and know what I need to do to get back to full fitness. That means remaining positive and working hard. We have a huge summer of cricket at home and my priority now is to play a big part in that.”