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Thursday February 20, 2014 MYT 12:02:01 AM
Thursday February 20, 2014 MYT 12:02:27 AM
by nick said
Australia's Shane Watson reacts after England's Ben Stokes was nearly caught during the fourth day of the third Ashes test cricket match at the WACA ground in Perth December 16, 2013. REUTERS/David Gray
PORT ELIZABETH (Reuters) - Captain Michael Clarke has indicated that Shane Watson will not return to the Australia side as a specialist batsman for the second test against South Africa at St George's Park on Thursday.
All-rounder Watson missed Australia's 281-run victory in the first test with a calf problem, and the tourists want him to be fit enough to bowl in Port Elizabeth.
"The information I have from the selectors is that if (Watson's) not bowling, he'll be unavailable for selection," Clarke told reporters on Wednesday.
"You'll probably have to ask (coach) Darren Lehmann and the other selectors, (but) from the information I have they'll only re-select him if he's available to bowl.
"As soon as Watto is fit and available I know he'll want to be back out on the park. I don't know if you guys watched him in the nets but he's creaming them at the moment."
Watson's replacement at number three in the first test, Alex Doolan, fell 11 runs short of a century on debut in the second innings.
Despite the apparent concern over Watson as a specialist batsman, Clarke said he hopes the 32-year-old can make a swift return to the side.
"He's a huge player for us, so the sooner we can have Watto back I think the better for this team," Clarke said.
"Any time you've got a class all-rounder available you've got to try and find some room."
Only veteran left-handed opener Chris Rogers failed in the Australian top six in the first test in Pretoria, but Clarke sees no cause for alarm.
"I think Bucky is going well. He's done a great job for us. He was the leading run-scorer if you combine both Ashes series. He's scored two hundreds in his last two Tests of the Australian summer.
"They weren't the easiest batting conditions the other day (in Pretoria). He's an opening batter, he's got the hardest job in the game. Chris has done a fantastic job for us and I'm confident he'll score runs for us in this Test."
(Editing by Stephen Wood)
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