Manchester: Australia’s Brett Lee and Shane Watson both had their tour of England cut short by calf problems on Monday as they were ruled out of Tuesday’s fifth one-day international at Old Trafford.
The duo, who suffered their injuries while bowling during a crushing eight-wicket defeat at Chester-le-Street on Saturday that gave England a series-clinching 3-0 lead in the five-match contest, are now due to fly home to Australia later on Monday.
Australia team doctor John Orchard said in a statement: “Shane Watson and Brett Lee have calf strains – Shane to the left and Brett to the right calf – sustained during the fourth ODI against England at Durham.
“This is the opposite calf to the injury Shane had last (Australian) summer. Because both players will miss the final game, they are flying back to Sydney for MRI scans and further treatment.
“At this stage, they are anticipated to be available for consideration for selection for the ICC World Twenty20 [in Sri Lanka starting in September], with scan results and response to treatment to determine whether they will be available for consideration for selection for the coming series against Pakistan in the UAE (United Arab Emirates).”
Lee, who went off two balls into his second spell on Saturday, and Watson, who managed just the one over, joined teenage paceman Pat Cummins (side strain) in returning home early from the tour, while left-arm quick Mitchell Johnson did not play at Chester-le-Street because of soreness in his right foot.
Fast bowler Lee retired from Test cricket in 2010 in a bid to prolong his career in shorter formats.
However, at the age of 35, this setback is bound to lead to questions about how long he can keep going for Australia.
Meanwhile, Watson, an opening batsman and medium-pacer, has seen his career blighted by a succession of injuries, leading many to question whether the 31-year-old’s body can cope with the demands of his preferred all-rounder role.
Nevertheless, Australia coach Mickey Arthur – speaking after Saturday’s loss – insisted he wanted Watson to continue featuring with both bat and ball in the hope both facets of his game would eventually come off at the same time.
“We want Watto as an allrounder. He gives us immense value and great balance. We need to have Watto as an allrounder in that team for the balance of the side,” Arthur explained. “It seems that he bats well for a period of time then he doesn’t bowl well. And if he bowls well (he doesn’t bat well). We have got to get it right as Watto is a great cricketer,” the South African added.
Lee and Watson’s latest injuries saw Australia call up left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc, who had been playing for English county Yorkshire, into their squad as cover on Sunday.