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Return of old guard could pose happy headache for Oz selectors

December 6, 2011 - Melbourne

The impending return of Shane Watson, Shaun Marsh and Patrick Cummins into the national squad could pose a happy dilemma for Australian selectors in the wake of the arrival and performance of new recruits.

Watson (hamstring), Marsh (back) and Cummins (heel) were considered unavailable for Friday's second Test against New Zealand in Hobart, with South Australia all-rounder Daniel Christian the only new face, coming in for yet another injured bowler, Ben Cutting (side strain).

While Queensland quick Ryan Harris (hip) is not expected to regain full fitness until at least midway through the four-Test India series next month, and Mitchell Johnson is gone for the summer after toe surgery, the likely recovery of Watson, Marsh and Cummins in time for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne could have major repercussions for Michael Clarke's squad, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Australian team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said Watson was on track to be fit for the first Test against India. The only question would seem to be where he will go in the batting order.

Marsh is to resume training this week and is also being set for Melbourne, putting pressure on the top order of Phillip Hughes, David Warner and Usman Khawaja to perform in Hobart.

The likely availability of 18-year-old Cummins for the series opener against India creates a similar scenario for the present batch of bowlers and the selection panel of John Inverarity, Andy Bichel, Rod Marsh plus Clarke and coach Mickey Arthur.

While James Pattinson is assured of his place thanks to his 5-27 on debut against the Kiwis, selectors will have to consider dropping New South Wales left-armer Mitchell Starc or perhaps even Peter Siddle to accommodate the teenager.

Meanwhile, New Zealand coach John Wright is demanding his batsmen show enough "substance" to curb their attacking instincts in the second Test.

Wright led the team in an extended training session at Allan Border Field yesterday rather than allowing a day's rest.


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