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Fresh doubts over Shane Watson for first Test

Shane Watson arrives in Johannesburg for the tour.

Shane Watson arrives in Johannesburg for the tour. Photo: AP

Australia's restricted preparation for the Test series against South Africa has received another blow with Shane Watson unable to bowl on the first day of an intra-squad practice match.

Watson has conspicuously stuck to batting in training over the past week, although coach Darren Lehmann this week declared he would be "fine" to bowl before the Test starting on Wednesday at Centurion.

He was not, however, able to resume bowling in the team's match at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, because of calf soreness, which has been a persistent problem for the 32-year-old. The all-rounder's availability to face the Proteas - and be fit to bowl to them - was nevertheless assured by team doctor Peter Brukner.

"Shane Watson's had some calf tightness so he won't bowl today but will bowl again in the next couple of days building up to the Test," Dr Brukner said on Friday. "He'll play in the game today [as a batsman] and will be fine for the Test match."

Australia had intended to bring combative all-rounder James Faulkner on the tour but he was withdrawn because of knee surgery. His place was taken by NSW all-rounder Moises Henriques, who has undertaken a heavy bowling workload in recent days.

Watson played only two matches in the one-day series following the Ashes, bowling a total of 12 overs.

It is unclear if Watson's restricted bowling preparation will affect the team hierarchy's decision on whether to move him from number three to number six, to allow him to bowl more and later when Australia is in the field, rather than have to preserve him near the tail in case he is called upon with the bat soon after.

Lehmann confirmed on Thursday that change was still a possibility. If it was to occur, either Alex Doolan or Phillip Hughes would slot in at number three.

Uncapped Doolan, 28, is a number-three batsman for Tasmania and said earlier this week that, should he be chosen, he would be most comfortable in that first-drop position, rather than at number six.

He and Hughes will get an opportunity to impress in the intra-squad match, which Lehmann hoped would be as demanding as possible.

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