Watson misses Centurion Test

Australia's Shane Watson has been ruled out of the first Test against South Africa.

The all-rounder has been troubled by a calf injury in the build-up to Wednesday's series opener at Centurion. Shaun Marsh has been called up to the squad as cover.

And a Cricket Australia statement confirmed his absence hours after he took part in an intra-squad practice match.

Team physio Alex Kountouris said on Saturday: "He batted yesterday and was fine, and we've been building up his intensity. Today we were trying to get him up to match level, and he struggled with that.

"He could feel it so we just don't think he he's going to be right for the first Test. We need a few more days now to let him recover and start up again.

"It's not a tear, but he has got an injury there. We've had a scan and it showed he's got a low-grade muscle injury that we've been managing.

"We were hopeful he'd recover, but it needed to be a little bit more advanced than what it is at the moment. He was very disappointed obviously, as we all are. It's disappointing, but it's part of the game."

The tourists had played down concerns over Watson in the run-up to the weekend, and coach Darren Lehmann said on Thursday: "He'll be fine."


But news of his absence is the latest setback for the Aussies, who have seen their preparations for the Test series hit by bad weather in South Africa.

Their only warm-up game was called off after heavy rain in Potchesfroom.

Watson's place at No 3 is likely to go to Alex Doolan, and the challenge now is to get him fit for the second Test beginning in Port Elizabeth on February 20.

Kountouris said: "Our first priority is to try and get him back as a batter, give the selectors that option. Getting him fit to bowl will be more challenging."

Watch the first Test between South Africa and Australia live on Sky Sports 1 from 8am on Wednesday