Watson won't risk it

SHANE Watson says he will not be taking any chances with his injured calf ahead of Friday's first Test with South Africa at the Gabba.

Watson bowled one over for NSW before feeling tightness in his calf in the Sheffield Shield clash with Queensland at Allan Border Field on Saturday.

It also meant he could not bat yesterday as NSW fell to defeat against the Bulls.

Watson admitted he was struggling to be fit and would not risk missing more games.

"It's not as bad (as it's been), it's only pretty minor but I know how things can go if you don't really look after it and get it right the first time," Watson said. "I'll be certainly making sure I get it right the first time."

Earlier yesterday, Cricket Australia's high performance manager Pat Howard confirmed both Ricky Ponting - who was withdrawn from Tasmania's Shield game with South Australia because of hamstring tightness - and Watson were in doubt for Friday's series opener.

Tasmania's Alex Doolan, South Australia's Phillip Hughes and new Queensland star Usman Khawaja are the three who appear to be in contention to replace either or both if they fail to pull up.

Doolan had already given selectors a timely nudge he could be one for the future before Watson went lame on Saturday, with a superb innings of 161 not out for Australia A against the tourists at the SCG.

The South African side included Test certainties Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, with Doolan looking confortable against the quicks.

Doolan has been in fine form this season, hitting 95 and 60 not out against Victoria and also smashing 149 against South Australia in the Sheffield Shield.

Hughes, too, seems to have benefited from a stint with English county side Worcestershire and also a switch from NSW to South Australia.

He hit 95 and 83 at the Gabba last month in a Shield game against Queensland, while also scoring a hundred and 95 in Ryobi Cup games, although he could only score five in Australia A's first innings against the Proteas on Saturday.

Khawaja has enjoyed his move north with scores of 88, 57, 54 and 54 in his six games with Queensland this season.
Meanwhile, the tourists warmed up for Friday with a draw against Australia A at the SCG.

Skipper Graeme Smith will be pleased with the run out as all his batsmen who appear certainties to play at the Gabba had a hit out.

He retired after scoring 60 on Saturday, while run machine Hashim Amla did the same yesterday after hitting 53.

This gave the likes of jaques Rudolph, JP Duminy and AB de Villiers the chance to have some batting practice.
The tourists then declared their innings at 6-277, 203 runs shy of Australia A's first-innings total of 7(dec)-480, satisfied with the amount of time in the middle for their batsmen.

That gave them 27 overs to pepper the Australia A top order with their world-class pace attack, but both captains agreed to end the match an hour early with the hosts 1-13.



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