Australia face injury crisis ahead of 1st NZ Test

Updated on Nov 25, 2011 09:43 AM IST

All-rounder Shane Watson, fast bowlers Pat Cummins, Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson and batsman Shaun Marsh have all been ruled out of the match starting on Dec. 1 at the Gabba in Brisbane.

Reuters | By

Australia are facing an injury crisis ahead of their first Test against New Zealand with five players already ruled out due to injuries sustained on their tour of South Africa.

All-rounder Shane Watson (hamstring), fast bowlers Pat Cummins (heel), Ryan Harris (pelvis) and Mitchell Johnson (toe), and batsman Shaun Marsh (back) had all been ruled out of the match starting on Dec. 1 at the Gabba in Brisbane, Cricket Australia said on Friday.

"We unfortunately suffered some injuries during the recent Test series against South Africa," general manager for team performance Pat Howard said in a statement.

"With such a short turnaround time between series, five players who were involved in the series will not fully recover in time to play the first ... Test against New Zealand."

The injuries to their three fast bowlers is of particular concern. Cummins was man of the match on debut in the second Test against South Africa when Michael Clarke's side tied the series with a two-wicket win.

The 18-year-old sustained a heel injury in that match and while he had been cleared of any serious injury, Australian team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said they would need to carefully manage his bowling workload as Australia also face India in a four Test series that starts on Dec. 26.

Johnson, who has been battling for form, has a strong record against New Zealand having captured 26 wickets in four Tests at an average of 16.57 and bowled his side to victory in their last Test against the Black Caps in 2010.

Watson's absence could also affect the balance of the Australian side with the former bowling all-rounder now a successful opening batsman, who provides a fourth or fifth seaming option.

Kountouris said all five players would be assessed next week for their availability for the second match in Hobart on Dec. 9.

The first Test side will be named on Saturday, with several of the players in the Australia A side playing New Zealand in Brisbane now in contention.

New Zealand, who have not won a Test match in Australia since 1985, or a Test against their closest neighbours since 1993, notched up 423 from 97 overs in their first innings against the shadow Test side at Alan Border Field.

Opening batsman Brendon McCullum plundered their attack on the first day, scoring 146 off 115 balls, while fast bowler Doug Bracewell was 73 not out off 79 balls in an innings that included nine boundaries and three sixes.

New Zealand smashed 133 runs in the first session on Friday before being dismissed just before lunch.

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