at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Light seems finally to be emerging at the end of the Shane Watson fitness tunnel, with the Australian confident he will be able to get through the final phase of his recuperation ahead of the much anticipated Test series decider at Newlands this Saturday.
Watson has not played in either of the Tests in Centurion and Port Elizabeth, with the Australian management adamant that the 32-year-old should be able to fulfil both his bowling and batting duties to be considered for selection.
After the visitors’ opening victory at SuperSport Park, with Alex Doolan and Shaun Marsh scoring heavily with the bat in the No3 and 4 spots respectively, the chances of the injury-prone Watson making yet another comeback were deemed to be slim.
However, Doolan and Marsh failed in both innings in the next Test, with the duo contributing just a sum total of 13 runs in the entire match. Besides their minimal contributions in the batting department, Australia also missed Watson’s abilities with the ball on a pitch that was not responsive to Mitchell Johnson’s method of all-out attack.
Watson bowled in the nets during the PE Test and believes his fragile body will be ready for him to perform his all-round duties at Newlands.
“I have to bowl one more time to be declared fit to play and then it is up to the selectors,” Watson told the Australian media contingent. “I’ve been running and doing (bowling) run-throughs and jogging and I pulled up well. I shouldn’t have any problems with getting through another session.”
In a refreshingly positive attitude, Watson also believed the new fitness requirements placed upon him will only benefit him physically down the line. “I know where I am at and where I have been with my batting. In Test cricket especially, I haven’t been as consistent as I would have liked. I don’t warrant a spot as a batsman at this point in time, but I do know what I can provide as an all-rounder,” he said.
“It also gave me a chance to get my body right. I’ve had a few niggles through the summer that I was able to play with, so this actually gave me a bit of time to get over those. In the end, it’s actually worked out better, because when I come back this time, those niggles that I had have gone away.”
The burly all-rounder was also optimistic about possibly playing on a ground where he’s previously had success, especially with the ball. He claimed 5/17 in the infamous “47 Test”, the last time Australia played in Cape Town in November 2011.
“The wicket has normally got a bit of seam and swing in it for the first couple of days,” he said of Newlands. “I know if I’m fit and I get picked, that my bowling could be pretty suited to it.”
Australia have not trained in Cape Town since arriving on Tuesday, with coach Darren Lehmann ordering his team and management to take a complete break from the game yesterday.
Considering the intense heat in the Mother City yesterday, it would have been a perfect time to get down to Clifton Fourth Beach for a relaxing swim ahead of the Test.
Lehmann, though, was spotted at Newlands yesterday along with his captain Michael Clarke as the Australian skipper had a lengthy batting session in the nets to try to get his game back on track ahead of the crucial final Test. - The Star