Watson makes progress but doubts over bowling remain
"Things can change quickly as I know from the past so I'm not getting ahead of myself" ... Australian all-rounder Shane Watson. Photo: Getty Images
SHANE WATSON is unsure if he will be ready to bowl in the second Test in Adelaide, and understands his return is not automatic.
The pivotal all-rounder faced throw-downs from outgoing batting coach Justin Langer in the Gabba nets on Sunday, and said afterwards his recovery from a calf strain was ''on track''.
Watson, the powerful No.3 batsman and influential seamer, is expected to re-join the squad for the Adelaide Test, which starts on November 22.
Asked whether he would be fit to bowl by then, he said, ''I'm not sure. It really depends on how things progress over the next week. If there's no hiccups, there's a likelihood I'll be able to bowl some overs but I just want to try and be able to get fit and if that means I get fit enough early enough to get some overs into me then that's great.''
Watson began jogging on Saturday and said he was making good progress. ''So far so good,'' he said. ''I'm on track at the moment. I'm not counting my chickens, everything has got to keep progressing well over the next week. Things can change quickly as I know from the past so I'm not getting ahead of myself.''
Michael Clarke said before the series began in Brisbane that he needed Watson to bowl to guarantee his selection.
''I appreciate that,'' Watson said on Sunday. ''If I'm picked to play for Australia or whether it's playing back for NSW, I just want to get fit more importantly, because I know when I'm fit and going, there are different things I can provide a team. I'd love to be able to be a part of the next Test match if everything goes well but I really just want to get fit, that's the most important thing.''
The Australians have lacked a legitimate fifth bowling option against South Africa's formidable batsmen at the Gabba, and Clarke has turned to the part-time medium pacers Rob Quiney and Mike Hussey as well as his own left-arm spin in Watson's absence, to give the four frontline bowlers some relief.
Watson hurt his calf bowling in a Sheffield Shield game for Queensland before the first Test. It was the first time he had played a first-class game since the Test series in the Caribbean in May.
Watson dominated the World Twenty20 with bat and ball, and Cricket Australia brought him home early from the subsequent Champions League in South Africa so he could rest before the series against the Proteas, which will decide the No.1 Test ranking.
The 31-year-old is one of the busiest and most important players in the country, and CA has a plan designed to keep him on the park when he is needed most.
But injuries have been a recurring theme throughout the all-rounder's career, causing him to miss all of last summer's Tests against New Zealand and India.