Shane Watson will miss Australia's Tour to the United Arab Emirates after suffering a setback during his ankle injury rehabilitation, Cricket Australia have confirmed.
Cricket Australia Physiotherapist 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 7-10 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.”
National Selector Rod Marsh said it was unfortunate for Watson to be ruled out of the UAE tour, especially considering he missed the previous tour of Zimbabwe following the accidental injury.
“Shane has done everything he can to get up for this tour and left no doubt in our minds that he wanted to push through. Had the decision been left to Shane, he would be on the plane to Dubai, however as selectors we have taken a conservative approach to ensure he has the best chance of being fit for the big summer ahead,” said Marsh.
“Right now we believe the best thing for Shane is to stay home and get 100 per cent fit as we know what a dynamic and destructive player he can be when his body is right. He remains an integral part of our plans for the summer.”
Marsh confirmed Tasmanian Ben Hilfenhaus has been drafted in as a replacement for Watson in the Test squad, while South Australian Kane Richardson will take Watson’s place in the Twenty20 and One-Day International squads.
“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 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.
Watson said he was extremely disappointed to be missing out on the tour to the UAE.
“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 per cent fitness so that I can make myself available for selection ahead of our series against South Africa in November,” said Watson.
“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.”