Post-Punter,Aus hedge their bets on Watson

Post-Punter,Aus hedge their bets on Watson

As the aircraft swerved to the right to begin its descent somewhere between the acres of dense vegetation below,Craig McDermott finally returned to his designated seat

As the aircraft swerved to the right to begin its descent somewhere between the acres of dense vegetation below,Craig McDermott finally returned to his designated seat. Australia’s fast bowling coach took in the sights of Tasmania’s natural glow until the aircraft landed at Hobart International Airport. But the moment the seat belts clapped open,McDermott was back to doing what he had been for the last couple of hours: welcoming the saviour home.

With sunglasses perched over his locks and McDermott wrapped around his peripheral vision,Shane Watson listened to the advice intently. Having missed the entirety of this summer due to a hamstring and calf compound injury,Watson is returning to the national side for the first time in four months. But the fuss isn’t due to the return of Australia’s best all-rounder — he has made comebacks on numerous occasions before. This time,however,it has coincided with the permanent exit of the fallen messiah,Ricky Ponting.

Like McDermott on Wednesday,coach Mickey Arthur spent much of the pre-match sweat session on Thursday observing Watson at the Bellerive Oval. The burly all-rounder couldn’t quite hit his full stride with the ball,struggling with his control. But just the fact that he was back in the Australian training jersey itself was reason enough to celebrate,an instant sign of moving on.

In Australia,unlike in India,the culling of a great is quick and painless. But more importantly,the transfer of the responsibilities from the ejected to the chosen one is even quicker. So Watson has been fast-tracked back to the ODI team (despite an indifferent performance in his only Shield game) to be the force that shifts the side past the Ponting era. And at the business end of a series,there are few better to rely on than the big-hitting New South Wales opener,who is expected to be unleashed against the Indians on Sunday.


“He is digesting his extra workloads,” said Australia’s chairman of selectors John Inverarity.

“The intention (of bringing him to Hobart) is that he takes a few more days to settle in and he’s not rushed back to return. The intention is that he enters the team against India on Sunday.” Inverarity added that the final decision will only be taken on Friday afternoon. So for tomorrow’s fixture at least,the resurgent Sri Lankans will take the field against perhaps a Watson-less Australia.

Lanka eye top spot

From two defeats in their first two games of this tri-series,the Lankans are now within a win of topping the table. A good time to be there,considering only the final round of matches are now remaining before the first of three finals begins in Brisbane.

Captain Mahela Jayawardene cannot boast of a Shane Watson in his side. But his all-rounders — Angelo Mathews,Thisara Perera,Nuwan Kulasekara and Ferveez Maharoof — have delivered every time Jayawardene has found his team in a spot of bother.

So whether Watson plays on Friday or not,the match is set to be hinged on the success of the all-rounders from both sides. In Australia’s case,a lot more than just tomorrow’s match depends on their all-rounder.

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