Melbourne: Phillip Hughes' tragic death came back to haunt Australia after star all-rounder Shane Watson was hit on the helmet by a bouncer from pacer James Pattinson during their training session at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) here today.
The 33-year-old was left shaken by the fierce blow to the head and he left the MCG nets following the incident that put an early end to Australia's training session before the Boxing Day Test.
Pattinson too looked distressed as he also walked out of the nets even as players and officials walked up to Watson to check on him.
Watson was hit on the helmet when he tried to dodge the bouncer. The impact caused Watson to fall to his knees as removed his helmet, inspected it and then walked off the nets. He sat with his head in his hands for several minutes before leaving the session with team doctor Peter Brukner, who treated him.
A Cricket Australia spokesperson said the dazed Watson was shaken but otherwise okay after and vice-captain Brad Haddin later confirmed his teammate had escaped unscathed.
"I had a chat to him - he's a bit shaken, but he's ok," Haddin said. Haddin didn't want to read too much into the incident.
"It's just getting hit in the head - he's just a bit shaken," he said.
"He's shaken as anyone would be. I can't really go into any more details because there's no more details to give." Watson later skipped the team's public appearance at the MCG for Cricket Austalia's Family Day activities, returning instead to the team hotel.
The incident brought back tragic memories of Hughes' death, which the Australian cricketers are still battling, more than two weeks after the young batsman had fallen to a fatal bouncer during a Sheffield Shield game.
Earlier, Mitchell Starc too seemed to hurt his knee while batting in the nets alongside Watson. It seemed Starc inside edged a delivery from a net bowler onto his knee, and yelled in pain.
Starc sat momentarily in the nets, before limping out of the nets. He stopped to clutch the problem area before being escorted into the changerooms.
"I think he's trying to get out of having to bowl," Haddin joked. "He's all right. He just hit the ball onto the inside of his knee."
Starc is expected to be replaced by veteran paceman Ryan Harris in the team for the third Test against India starting on Friday. Harris is returning from injury after missing the Brisbane Test.
A series of fitness issues have plagued Australia's campaign in the four-Test series against India. While captain Michael Clarke was ruled out after the Adelaide Test and had to undergo a hamstring surgery, pacer Ryan Harris missed the second Test after hurting his groin in the opening Test.
Mitchell Marsh, who broke down on the searing hot opening day of the Brisbane Test after straining his right hamstring at the Gabba, will miss Melbourne Test and there were doubts over opener David Warner too after he was struck on the thumb while batting in the second innings.
However, Warner made it clear that his sore thumb will not keep him away from the Boxing Day test. "I will definitely be playing - I will be doing everything I can," Warner said after the Australian team arrived here.
"Obviously it's a bit painful, it's the one I broke before, but I'm not missing a Boxing Day test, that's for sure," he added.