Watson ruled out of first South Africa test

Mon Nov 5, 2012 4:55am GMT

By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Allrounder Shane Watson has been ruled out of the first test against South Africa with a calf strain in a huge blow for Australia's hopes of upsetting the top-ranked visitors.

Vice captain Watson injured his left calf playing for New South Wales against Queensland on Saturday and had been a doubt for the test which begins on Friday at the Gabba in Brisbane.

"We're ruling him out now because we think he won't be fit enough come Friday," Australia coach Mickey Arthur told reporters in Brisbane, where he confirmed Rob Quiney would make his test debut in the 31-year-old's absence.

"We wanted to make a decisive decision pretty early so we could give some real clarity to the team, so unfortunately Shane misses out and Quiney plays."

Governing body Cricket Australia earlier reported Watson's omission as being due to a hamstring injury, but later changed the diagnosis in an updated statement.

Watson's injury is certain to re-ignite fierce debate Down Under about the player's long-term management.

Watson has been blighted by back and leg injuries throughout his career and missed all of Australia's victorious home test series against India last year.

Some pundits and former players have called on him to shelve either his batting or his bowling, or scale down his participation in one-day and Twenty20 cricket.   Continued...

Australia's Shane Watson is bowled as West Indies' Denesh Ramdin (L) looks on during the ICC world Twenty20 semi-final at the R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo October 5, 2012. REUTERS/Philip Brown
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