Watson fit to face Proteas

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iol spt nov29 Shane Watson-nets Getty Images Australian all-rounder Shane Watson is fit for duty ahead of the third and deciding Test in Perth.

Australia’s Shane Watson has declared himself fit for both batting and bowling duties in the third and final Test against South Africa beginning in Perth tomorrow.

The all-rounder missed the first two drawn Tests of the series in Brisbane and Adelaide with a calf injury, but was named in the squad for the final match.

“Over the last week I have gradually built up my bowling and my running,” he told reporters yesterday.

“I am up to bowling as many overs as Michael (Clarke) wants, the normal workload I have in a Test.”

The 31-year-old was deemed fit to play as a specialist batsman in the second Test, but Australia opted to give him a chance to regain full fitness.

“The decision to miss the last Test was a good one in hindsight because it gave me the best chance to bowl well here,” he said. “I understand (bowling a lot of overs) could be a possibility for me ... but in the end my body is in the condition to do it.

“I’m certainly fresh compared to some of the other guys who have been out there, so my body should be right.”

Meanwhile, Australia’s pace spearhead Peter Siddle says he’s confident of overcoming lingering exhaustion and being fit to play in the decisive Perth encounter.

Siddle has been recovering from a marathon 33-over bowling effort in intense heat in the fourth innings of the drawn second Test and will not bowl in the nets until today.

The 28-year-old said his bowling spell on Monday was one of the toughest experiences of his Test career.

“It was very dry heat out on the field which was tough work and a lot of overs ... just a bit of exhaustion and trying to get those last couple of wickets,” Siddle said.

Faf du Plessis weathered Australia’s bowling attack throughout the final day of the second Test to score an unbeaten maiden century and help South Africa salvage a draw.

Despite Australia’s official policy of rotating their fast bowlers to ensure adequate recovery time and avoid burnout, the loss of paceman James Pattinson for the season with a side strain makes Siddle’s fitness for the third Test vital.

“I’ll just take it easy and get ready and prepare. I feel good, I’ve got plenty of sleep and the body is feeling good, which is nice,” Siddle said.

The loss of Pattinson midway through the second Test also provides a reminder of the dangers of pushing a body too far.

“I'm feeling good now, I’ve recovered well ... but if I’m struggling or if I don’t feel 100 percent I’ve got to talk to the captain, the selectors and work out what’s best.”

Australia played four quicks in last year’s thrashing of India at Perth, and selectors have that option again with Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, John Hastings and Josh Hazlewood all picked in the squad.

Australia need a victory at the WACA to return to the number one spot after a gap of more than three years, while a third draw would keep South Africa as the world’s top side in the longest form of the game. – Reuters and Sapa-AP


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