Watson out of first test, Marsh back in squad

JOHANNESBURG Sat Feb 8, 2014 7:56pm IST

Australia's Shane Watson takes a break from batting in the nets during a team training session at the Sydney Cricket Ground January 2, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray

Australia's Shane Watson takes a break from batting in the nets during a team training session at the Sydney Cricket Ground January 2, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/David Gray

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - All-rounder Shane Watson has been ruled out of the first test against South Africa starting on Wednesday after a slow recovery from a calf injury with Australia bringing Shaun Marsh back into their squad.

Left-handed batsman Marsh, who was in the original squad named by Australia for the tour but later withdrawn, also with a calf injury, returns after proving his fitness in the final of Australia's Twenty20 competition on Friday when he smashed 63 off 43 balls.

Watson did not bowl in an inter-squad practice match at The Wanderers in Johannesburg on Friday, but did bat, making 34.

However, team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said he would be fit enough to face the Proteas after he picked up the injury at the team's training camp in Potchefstroom a week ago.

"He batted yesterday and was fine, and we've been building up his intensity. Today we were trying to get him up to match level ... and he struggled with that today. He could feel it," Kountouris told reporters on Saturday.

"We just don't think he he's going to be right for the first test. We need a few more days now to let him recover and start up again.

"It's not a tear, but he has got an injury there. We've had a scan and it showed he's got a low-grade muscle injury that we've been managing. We were hopeful he'd recover, but it needed to be a little bit more advanced than what it is at the moment."

The first test starts at SuperSport Park near Pretoria on Wednesday, with the second following in Port Elizabeth on February 19. That date will be the next target for Watson.

Australia have already lost all-rounder James Faulkner from the original squad selected for the tour, which includes three tests and three Twenty20 internationals.

(Reporting by Nick Said in Cape Town; editing by Ed Osmond/Rex Gowar)

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