Watson uncertain for first Test against India

Melbourne: Uncertainty looms large over Shane Watson`s availability for the first cricket Test against India starting December 26 after the all-rounder skipped the opening day of Australia`s batting camp on Tuesday.

Watson was present with the team on Tuesday at the MCG nets but he did not bat or bowl and was only seen helping assistant coach Justin Langer feed balls into the bowling machine.

He went into the gym but did not take part in any of the drills in the camp, which will last three days.

"He has indicated he will be unable to bowl by Boxing Day but it`s believed his hopes of being fit to play as a specialist batsman have also faded as he makes a slow recovery from hamstring and calf injuries," a report in the `Sydney Morning Herald` read.

It means that fellow all-rounder Dan Christian, who also missed the first day of the camp to play a Twenty20 match, could make his debut in the series opener against India.

Australia coach Mickey Arthur has also said that he prefers a genuine all-rounder against India`s formidable batting line up.

Arthur said Christian`s performances for South Australia this season - 475 runs in the Sheffield Shield at 59.37 - suggested he could hold a place in the top six.

"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 said.

"He [Christian] has got an unbelievable record this year. He`s done superbly well for South Australia, so stats will tell you that he could possibly be in our top six batters. I guess the fitness of our other players will also determine that down the line," he added.

Arthur is one of five selectors, including captain Michael Clarke, who will name the squad for the first Test against India.

PTI