Injured Watson ruled out of UAE tour

Australia will be without veteran all-rounder Shane Watson for the tour to the UAE to face Pakistan next month, as he has not recovered from a calf injury, and will be replaced by Ben Hilfenhaus.

Watson missed the tour to Zimbabwe too, and a calf injury is not a new problem for him. In the past, he was picked as batsman when he couldn’t bowl, but this time they seem to have opted to get a bowler in and give Mitchell Marsh his Test debut.

Team physio Alex Kountouris said: “Whilst Shane has made steady progress with his rehabilitation after he stepped on a ball and sprained his ankle, he has suffered a setback, experiencing some right calf soreness.

“As Shane has previously had similar calf injuries, we plan to hold back his return to running and bowling for approximately seven to ten days.

“The unfortunate timing of this calf injury will mean that his preparation for the UAE tour will be considerably affected and he would have been unavailable for the T20 and ODI part of the tour and significantly limit his bowling preparation for the Test matches.”

For his part, Watson shifted his focus to the clash against South Africa in November: “I’m naturally disappointed because I was desperate to play against Pakistan which is our opportunity to get back to number one in Test and one-day international cricket.

“Despite my strong desire to be on the tour, I understand why the selectors have made this decision.

“Given I can’t be with the boys, my goal now is to work as hard as I can to get back to 100% fitness so that I can make myself available for selection ahead of our series against South Africa in November.

“I’ve been here before and know what I need to do to get back to full fitness. That means remaining positive and working hard. We have a huge summer of cricket at home and my priority now is to play a big part in that.”

Selector Rod Marsh explained the thinking behind picking Hilfenhaus, who last played for the side in 2012, as the replacement: “The selectors have opted for another pace option in Ben as we feel we have enough cover in the all-rounder position.

“He is an experienced bowler who has worked very hard to get himself back to peak fitness and we know how well he can bowl in tough conditions.

“Kane (Richardson) is a talented young player who had an excellent series for Australia A in July and didn’t disappoint in Zimbabwe earlier this month. He now has another opportunity to stake his claim at international level.”