Melbourne: Shane Watson's return to the Australian team after another injury lay-off has begun with Michael Clarke warning the allrounder that his place in the Test side was not guaranteed. Watson will make his latest comeback in the third ODI against West Indies in Canberra on Wednesday as purely a batsman, and while getting Clarke's vote as a world-class player when fully fit, the 31-year-old was sounded a note of caution by his captain ahead of the tour of India.
"As I've said to Watto, while he's not bowling he goes into a much bigger pool of players," Clarke said at the Allan Border Medal function in Melbourne on Monday. "In regards to the pool of batsmen, it's a much bigger pool than the pool of allrounders in Australian cricket at the moment. But Shane knows if he's at his best, he's as good as any player in the world let alone the Australian team. Our goal as a team is to help Watto get back to his best. Hopefully that's batting and bowling in time, but right now that's batting."
Clarke's comments came when sitting next to Watson who was voted Australia's Twenty20 Player of the Year on Monday. Watson admitted the award was a minor consolidation during an injury-riddled year. "One of the hardest things about being injured is coming back and trying to find some form as quickly as you possibly can," he said. "Hopefully I can do that over the next couple of weeks leading into the Indian Test series."
The Australian captain said that that the injury-plagued allrounder faces a stiff test to make his Test comeback in India.
Watson has been selected in the ODI and Test teams as a batsman, but was hopeful of getting back to bowling fitness before the Ashes starting in July. "Hopefully I can just get some continuity with my batting over the next few months and then slowly build into getting some bowling under my belt," he said. "The perfect world for me would be making sure I'm able to bowl and contribute with the ball during the Ashes. I know that's looking a long way forward, but just even physically to give myself a chance to be able to get to that is a dream for me at the moment."