Shane Watson's hopes of playing in the Boxing Day Test suffered a set-back as he failed to take part in the opening day of Australia's batting camp here Tuesday while fellow all-rounder Dan Christian and Tasmania's opening batsman Ed Cowan moved closer to making a Test debut.
Instead of batting at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) nets, Watson, who is suffering from calf and hamstring injuries, helped assistant coach Justin Langer feed balls into the bowling machine and then hit the gym. But he couldn't take part in any of the drills designed by Cricket Australia (CA) to fine-tune its top order for the series-opener against India.
Watson has already said that he won't bowl in the Boxing Day Test but his chances to play as an opening batsman is also fading as he makes a slow recovery from hamstring and calf injuries.
Cowan made a strong case to open the batting on Boxing Day with 109 for a Cricket Australia Chairman's XI against the Indians while Christian's chances of breaking into the team improved after coach Mickey Arthur hinted that he would prefer a genuine all-rounder in the side for the first two Tests.
"It's almost as if you play with 12 players when you play with an all-rounder, so our preference for balance of the team is always to try and have an all-rounder. If we've got one that we think is capable of doing the job, we'll play him," Arthur was quoted as saying by The Sydney Morning Herald.
Arthur is one of five selectors, including captain Michael Clarke, who will name a Boxing Day Test squad Wednesday. Arthur said injuries to key players may force them to unveil an expanded squad of 13.
Ricky Ponting is sure to be named in the squad, but Arthur said he and Mike Hussey cannot take their place for granted.