Australian captain Michael Clarke. Cricket Australia Facebook photo.
The Australian cricket team is still under construction – much like the stands at the Adelaide Oval, the site of the second Test against South Africa tomorrow.
A decision will be made today on whether Shane Watson will be fit and ready to play – but not bowl – and who will take the last position in the pace attack come tomorrow morning. There is still much debate about whether Watson, who confirmed on Monday that he would not be fit enough to bowl in the second Test, should be picked as a specialist batsman. Watson strained a calf muscle in a Shield match for NSW just before the first Test against South Africa, ruling him out of contention for the Brisbane Test.
Former captain Ricky Ponting has weighed into the debate, telling media on Tuesday that Watson should not be considered for the test unless he is 100 per cent fit. “No-one can go into a Test match 70 per cent fit. I don’t care if you’re a batsman and a slip fielder. If you can’t bat at 100 per cent, then you are putting pressure on other blokes as well,” Ponting said.
“There will be a certain amount of running he will have to do along with other things to prove that he’s right to play a Test match.”
If Watson fails to pass a fitness test, Rob Quiney will retain the number three batting spot for the Adelaide Test.
Young quick Mitchell Starc looks set to take the final spot ahead of Ben Hilfenhaus, who has struggled to find the form that troubled Indian batsmen last summer. Starc has once again proved himself to be a worthy candidate for a call-up, thanks to another impressive performance for NSW against Victoria in last week’s Shield match, claiming four wickets. The left arm quick will be sure to complement the right-handed pace attack, and has impressed in the nets at training this week.
“I’ve faced him both days in the nets and he’s been pretty good. When you’ve got a left-armer who can bowl at his pace and swing the ball back, it makes for a very dangerous proposition for any batsman.” Ponting said.
Captain Michael Clarke has vowed to maintain the aggression his team produced on the final days of the first Test against the Proteas, the world number one test team, in Brisbane.
The South African team has taken a relaxed approach to training this week and will remain unchanged. Captain Graeme Smith will be on alert after Australia took the challenge to the Proteas in Brisbane, and will be asking for a better performance from his bowlers. – Patrick Higgins