Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
After being ruled out of Australia’s tour of the United Arab Emirates due to yet another calf injury, all-rounder Shane Watson could be on the verge of losing his Test spot to Mitchell Marsh, who has been turning a lot of heads as of late.
However, Australia captain Michael Clarke has thrown his support behind Watson and stated that, while he unlucky not to be playing against Pakistan, he will “certainly play a lot more Tests” in the near future.
“I think if Watto is batting and bowling, he’s a huge part of our team, but he’s obviously got some stiff competition now as well,” Clarke said. “Watto’s greatest challenge has been trying to stay fit and healthy and I think we also need to understand and respect that he’s pushed his body to the max being a batsman and bowler.
“He bowls at a good pace and is a destructive batter so there’s still going to be injuries for the rest of his career, as there is for Mitchell Marsh, James Faulkner and all the all-rounders. If Watto can get himself fit and healthy he’ll certainly play a lot more Tests, one-day and Twenty20 cricket for Australia.”
Since Watson is out of the tour of the United Arab Emirates, the national selectors have decided to call up pace bowler Ben Hilfenhaus as his replacement for the Test series, while fellow seamer Kane Richardson will take his place on the ODI and Twenty20 roster.
Watson has succumbed to numerous calf injuries in the past and has missed 54 out of the 106 Tests he has played thus far. 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 also missed the recent ODI tri-series against Zimbabwe and South Africa, but that was not due to a calf or hamstring problem. Watson was forced to miss the tri-series after stepped on a cricket ball and injured his ankle during a training session in Brisbane.
While Watson has missed 54 Tests since making his debut back in 2005, Clarke has only missed one out of the 105 Tests he has played due to his chronic back problems.
However, he could be forced to miss the upcoming two-Test series against Pakistan, which gets underway on October 22 in Dubai, since he is struggling to recover from a hamstring injury.
Clarke initially injured his hamstring during a training session in Harare just prior to the start of ODI tri-series. After missing Australia’s first two matches, he decided he was fit enough to play against Zimbabwe, but ended up aggravating his injury. To add insult to injury, Zimbabwe went on to win the match and registered their first ODI win over Australia in 31 years.
Clarke returned home early from the ODI tri-series and underwent scans which revealed damage to the tendon in his hamstring.
Despite his injury, Clarke will fly to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday and continue working closely with team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris.
“Alex knows my body very well,” Clarke said. “He’ll be the one that gives me the all-clear to play the Test matches if he thinks I’m fully fit. If I pass what Alex needs me to pass that will give me a lot of confidence as well.”
Wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin will become Australia’s 45th Test captain if Clarke is ruled out of the Test series.