Sydney: Shane Watson is expected to lead Australia in the second Test match against Sri Lanka, starting on December 26, if captain Michael Clarke fails to recover from a strained hamstring, which he suffered during the Hobart Test.
In a remarkable irony, the injury-plagued vice-captain could inherit Australian sport`s top job because Clarke was forced to retire hurt while batting on Monday in Australia’s second innings. Clarke went for scans after play on Monday and should know by Tuesday whether he can play the next Test in Melbourne.
Coach Mickey Arthur admitted captaincy would be a great challenge for Watson. “It is a distinct possibility. It would be a really good challenge for Shane. We`ll learn a lot about Shane and his leadership ability.
I`m confident he will come through it very well,” News.com.au quoted Arthur, as saying. “If it does materialise, it will be a really good opportunity for him,” he added.
Watson captained the team in eight one-day matches early this year after Clarke was ruled out with a hamstring strain, leading the side to four wins, three losses and a tie.
Australia already has seven fast bowlers sidelined through injury, with Ben Hilfenhaus ruled out of the Boxing Day Test after breaking down with a side strain in the first innings.
The loss of Clarke would be a devastating blow given his brilliant batting, which included 57 from just 46 balls yesterday before he grabbed his right hamstring.
Should he be ruled out, Clarke’s likely replacement is Usman Khawaja, who scored 56 captaining a chairman’s XI in a low key warm-up match against Sri Lanka at Canberra’s Manuka Oval almost a fortnight ago.
Arthur named Khawaja along with former wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who is in brilliant form for NSW, Rob Quiney and Alex Doolan as possible replacements.