Australia selector Mark Waugh says Shane Watson can use the upcoming Twenty20 series against South Africa to build ahead for the Test series against India.
Mark Waugh has admitted Australian cricket selectors considered omitting Shane Watson from the Twenty20 squad to face South Africa to give him more time with the red ball as he continues his return from injury.
Watson was forced out of the recent tours of Zimbabwe and the UAE with ankle and calf problems that resulted from stepping on a ball at training.
With a four-match Test series against India coming up this summer, Waugh said there was discussions about giving the 33-year-old, who played for Sydney club side Sutherland on Sunday, more time in the longer form of the game, but his experience was needed against the Proteas.
“We still needed to pick some quality players who have played for Australia before and we know what he can do,” Waugh said.
“Shane’s a world-class player when his fitness is right and he is bowling. Hopefully he gets a bit out the four overs in each game.
“It doesn’t sound a lot, but it’s going to be a good foundation for him and it is a long summer.”
“We just think he is a class player. He offers a lot in T20 format.
“He’s a very clean striker of the ball he should be able to bowl four overs and add a bit of experience too and there is a lot of young guys in there too.”
With No.1 keeper Brad Haddin among those still in the UAE on Test duty when the three-match series starts on November 5, selectors have picked in-form Tasmanian left-hander Ben Dunk to don the gloves.
Dunk beat fellow Tasmanian Tim Paine as well as NSW’s Peter Nevill, West Australia’s Sam Whiteman and former Australia keeper Matt Wade to the role.
The 27-year-old blasted 229 not out in a record domestic one-day innings for Tasmania at North Sydney Oval on Saturday, and has now jumped the queue in the wicketkeeper standings.
Waugh said Dunk timed his run perfectly but his selection was reward for a very strong 12 months with the bat.
“The double hundred didn’t do him any harm, but Ben was the leading run-scorer in the Big Bash last year and his form is excellent in this format,” Waugh said.
“He is a very capable keeper when he first played first-class cricket and he deserves his spot.”