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Watson ruled out of Test


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Shane Watson has been ruled out of the first Test against South Africa.

Watson has been suffering from calf tightness this week, and team management decided on Saturday he would not be ready to take on the Proteas on Wednesday.

Alex Doolan is expected to debut at No.3 in the batting order in place of Watson in Centurion.

Watson is a chance of returning for the second Test in Port Elizabeth.

“He batted yesterday and was fine, and we’ve been building up his intensity. Today we tried to get him up to match level and he struggled,” team physio Alex Kountouris said of the niggle Watson sustained last week in Potchefstroom.

“We’ve had a scan and it shows a low-grade injury.

“He’s had these before. They can take a short period of time or an extended period of time, in this case it looks like it will take a bit longer.

“We’ve got to give him a few days off and get him right for the second Test if possible.”

Watson’s injury should have paved the way for Redbacks batsman Phil Hughes, who came under notice again by scoring 83 in an practice match Saturday.

The match replaced the washed out warm-up game.

Instead, selectors repeated their decision to pick Shaun Marsh ahead of Hughes, recalling the WA batsman into the Test side after a Big Bash League 63 on Friday night.

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon, meanwhile, says he will aim to attack the likes of Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis over the wicket in Australia’s three-Test series against South Africa.

Lyon came of age in the most recent Ashes series, snaring 19 wickets including his 100th Test scalp in Melbourne.

The 26-year-old has played eight Tests in a row, is entrenched as the side’s first-choice spinner and in the sort of form that deserves more kudos according to spin mentor John Davison.

“Nath, if he’s bowling well, is as good as any conventional finger spinner in the world,” Davison said.

Lyon will be most effective against the Proteas’ left-handed talent, but will also look to take down their right-handers with a more-aggressive approach.

Lyon snared figures of 3-60 from 15 overs in Australia’s intra-squad clash on Friday in Johannesburg, turning the ball sharply.

At the request of Davison, Lyon spent much less time coming around the wicket to the squad’s right-handed batsmen.

“He hadn’t bowled a lot over the wicket to right-handers in the Ashes. He was coming around the wicket a lot and got very comfortable doing that,” said Davison, who umpired parts of the practice match at the Wanderers and is in South Africa as the side’s spin coach.

“So we’ve challenged him to be able to start over the wicket to the right-handers.

“Try to bowl them through the gate, and bring first slip and bat-pad into play.

“Then he’s got a plan B – to come around the wicket to them.”

Lyon will have to work hard on pitches where the quicks are expected to grab all the wickets, but Davison suggested his bounce proved challenging in the Ashes and will do so again in South Africa.

“(Graeme) Swann bowls more side spin, whereas Nath comes over the top a bit more,” he said.

“The bounce got him the wickets in Australia, really. If they’ve got hard and fast wickets here, he bowls well on those wickets.”

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