Australia's Ashes line-up for next week's first Test could have been dealt a major blow, with Queensland all-rounder Shane Watson appearing to injure a hamstring during the one-day game against Western Australia.
Watson was bowling the first ball of his sixth over in the Ford Ranger one-day match at the WACA Ground when he pulled up sharply, clutching the back of his right leg.
Looking concerned, Watson conferred with Bulls captain Jimmy Maher and teammates before leaving the ground with the Queensland trainer.
Watson looked certain to bat at six against England in next week's first Test at the Gabba, allowing Australia to pick four fast bowlers and have the luxury of Adam Gilchrist at seven.
But if the blonde 25-year-old was forced to withdraw, then Australia would face a choice between a replacement all-rounder - possibly Andrew Symonds - picking five specialist bowlers, or another batsman.
In another scare, batsman Damien Martyn was also forced to withdraw from the same match with a recurrence of an elbow injury.
Martyn was ruled out of the match after undergoing treatment for tendonitis in his left elbow on Thursday - but WACA officials said he was not in doubt for the Gabba Test.
WA doctor Damien McCann said the decision to rule Martyn out was made to ensure that he was fully fit by the time the Australian team goes into camp in Brisbane on Sunday.
"As a precautionary measure Damien has been withdrawn from today's match after treatment on his left elbow," McCann said.
"He is expected to be fully fit by the time he arrives in Brisbane to go into camp with the Australian team."
Martyn will fly out to Brisbane with the rest of the West Australian based Test players on Saturday.
The injury scare is the latest in a series of untimely ailments for Watson, who has been restricted to three Tests since making his debut in January 2005.
After breaking into Australia's one-day line-up in 2002, stress fractures to his back at the start of 2003 forced him to miss that year's World Cup.
Then in 2005 he was drafted into the Test team with the intention of becoming the designated allrounder, but dislocated his shoulder diving to field in his second Test.
During the recent Champions Trophy tournament, the Ipswich born allrounder feared he was having a heart attack when he was rushed to a Chandigarh hospital with chest pains, but it turned out he had a severe bout of gastritis.
It has to be said he is one of the more injury prone players in the Aussie squad. This may actually become a consideration for the selectors in the future if he continues his bad run....can he get through regular 5 day test match cricket?
It's been comfirmed. and... Damien Martyn pulled out of that match with an elbow injury. Reported tendonitis but I sure hope not.
Interestingly from a mechanisitc point of view, Watson's injury occured on the first stride of recovery following ball delivery to his right side i.e. the player flexes at the hip and lumbar spine over a partially flexed knee. This is a mechanism of injury more commonly seen in water-skiers and dancers than in running based athletes. I am not aware of literature in cricket documenting the mechanism of hamstring injury in cricket bowlers, or to which leg it most commonly occurs (eg bowling leg or opposite leg). The injury occurred at a stage when lack of warm-up or fatigue probably did not contributed and whilst doing an activity which Watson would do many times per day. This case further comlplicates any attempts at answering why hamstring injuries so commonly occur.
Australian all-rounder Shane Watson has been ruled out of the first Ashes Test against England because of a hamstring strain.
Watson had wanted to bowl in a bid to prove his fitness for Thursday's series opener, but was only able to run laps of The Gabba with team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris.
Kountouris and Watson then agreed the 25-year-old would only be able to have played at 70 per cent and decided it was not worth the risk.
Batsman Michael Clarke will come into the side.
The injury is the latest in a long line of problems for Watson, who had earlier this week given himself a good chance of recovering in time to play before a home crowd.
"I've done everything I can over the last three days to give it a shot but unfortunately I was only a few days away," he said.
"It's not a good feeling, it's something I've been working towards over the past six months.
"I feel my game has really improved and that I have earned a spot in this Australian cricket team."
Watson said he would now aim at recovering in time for the second Test in Adelaide, which starts December 1.
Was always up against it, but saves a problem at the selection table.
Watson ruled out of second Test
November 27, 2006
Shane Watson, the Australia allrounder, has been ruled out of the second Test against England at Adelaide. Watson missed the first Test at Brisbane with a hamstring injury and, although he has undergone intensive rehabilitation, the next Test, which starts on Friday, has come too soon
"The outcome was that his hamstring injury is still not fully recovered and it was decided that the second Test would be too early a return in the circumstance," Alex Kountouris, the Australia physiotherapist said. "His rehabilitation will continue with a view to him being available for selection for the third Test in Perth."
Although a bitter blow for Watson, who was in terrific form for Australia in the Champions Trophy in October, his unavailability might be a blessing in disguise for the home side. His replacement at Brisbane was Stuart Clark who returned superb match figures of 7 for 93. It now seems likely Australia, barring further injuries, will retain the same squad, although there have been calls for Stuart MacGill to partner Shane Warne at the expense of a seamer.
Will he play in the 3rd test? He should've recovered by now but Australia have been doing well without him. I think that he is not likely to be included in the side for the 3rd test.
The Ashes 2006-07
Watson a doubt for Perth
December 5, 2006
Shane Watson won't be in Queensland colours this week © Getty Images
Shane Watson's hopes of returning to the Australian team for the third Ashes Test at Perth have taken a blow with the news that he is unlikely to start Queensland's Ford Ranger Cup one-day match against Victoria, at Sydney, on Wednesday.
Watson, who was ruled out of the first two Tests with a hamstring strain, is also unlikely to be fit for the match against Victoria, at Brisbane on Friday, meaning he will miss the chance to prove his fitness to the Australian selectors. Watson has spent the past week in Melbourne with Cricket Australia team doctor Trefor James.
"He [Watson] is in Sydney but he won't be with us until tomorrow," Terry Oliver, the Queensland coach, told AAP. "He might come here and have a bowl in the nets tomorrow, we'll see.
"We may be looking at Friday but I haven't heard any more on that. It's probably unlikely he will play Friday as well. I spoke to him today. He sets himself high standards and he's very disappointed, as anyone would be I suppose."
If Watson is ruled out of the Perth Test the selectors will have to decide whether to stick with their balance of four bowlers, or make the attacking move of dropping a batsman in favour of more strike power in the attack.
Shane Watson's hamstring injury apparently seems to be severe. Seems to be in doubt for the rest of the Ashes too.