Cricket - Clarke caution for Watson

Australia captain Michael Clarke has fired a warning to Shane Watson ahead of the tour of India by declaring the injury-plagued all-rounder's decision to play merely as a batsman may cost him Test selection.

PA Sport
Cricket - Clarke caution for Watson

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All-rounder Shane Watson hopes to be bowling again at next summer's Ashes

Watson has spent a month on the sidelines after aggravating a calf strain during the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka, which prompted his decision to stop bowling indefinitely. The 31-year-old will make his comeback as an opener in Australia's one-day match on Wednesday against the West Indies in Canberra.

But Clarke said Watson would not receive such an easy passage into the national team when the four-Test series against India gets under way later this month. "As I've said to Watto, while he's not bowling he goes into a much bigger pool of players," Clarke said after winning the Allan Border Medal on Monday night.

"In regards to the pool of batsmen, it's a much bigger pool than the pool of all-rounders in Australian cricket at the moment.

"But Shane knows if he's at his best, he's as good as any player in the world let alone the Australian team. Our goal as a team is to help Watto get back to his best. Hopefully that's batting and bowling in time, but right now that's batting."

Watson was named Australia's Twenty20 International Player of the Year at the Allan Border Medal ceremony thanks mostly to his man-of-the-series performance at last October's World Twenty20 tournament. But calf and hamstring injuries meant he only played three of the six Tests this summer on the back of missing all of the 2011-12 home Tests.

"One of the hardest things about being injured is coming back and trying to find some form as quickly as you possibly can," Watson said. "Hopefully I can do that over the next couple of weeks leading into the Indian Test series."

He aims to start bowling again during the Ashes which starts in July.

"Hopefully I can just get some continuity with my batting over the next few months and then slowly build into getting some bowling under my belt," Watson said.

"The perfect world for me would be making sure I'm able to bowl and contribute with the ball during the Ashes. I know that's looking a long way forward, but just even physically to give myself a chance to be able to get to that is a dream for me at the moment."

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