Calcutta: Shane Watson became Australia’s 44th Test captain on Friday, after Michael Clarke was ruled out of the fourth and final Test against India with an ongoing back injury.
Watson’s appointment completes a remarkable 10 days for the player, during which he, along with three others, was dumped for breaching team discipline ahead of the Mohali Test. He then flew home to Sydney for the birth of his first child, but his return to India will add some much-needed experience in Clarke’s absence.
Watson said it was an honour to captain the side. “It’s really a dream come true to be asked to captain your country. I’ve captained in some one-day Internationals, but to be asked to captain a Test will be the ultimate honour.
“It’s obviously very disappointing that Michael hasn’t come up, his batting and leadership will certainly be sorely missed, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and responsibility over the next five days,” Watson said in a statement released by Cricket Australia (CA).
Watson’s debut as Test captain wasn’t memorable as he was dismissed for only 17 on the opening day.
On-duty Australia selector Rod Marsh said that CA has endorsed the decision to appoint Watson as the captain.
“Michael gave himself every opportunity to play, has worked hard to be fit and done everything the medical staff have asked of him but has not come up.
“The decision for Shane Watson to step in as captain was a very straight forward one for the national selection panel. Shane is the vice-captain on this tour and, as a senior member of the group, has all the credentials to lead Australia in Michael’s absence.
“The board has endorsed the panel’s recommendation that Shane should captain Australia in the fourth Test. Shane is an experienced player in Indian conditions and has captained the Australian ODI side nine times.
“The board also approved the nomination of Matthew Wade as vice-captain for this Test which will be a great experience for the young wicket-keeper.”
Meanwhile, commenting on Michael Clarke’s injury, Australian team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said: “Michael injured his lower back during the third Test.
“Whilst there has been some slow improvement, he is still well short of full function so was unable to train and will not be available to play the fourth Test.
“We will monitor his progress over the coming days before deciding on the best course of action. We will be taking the opportunity to investigate and manage his ongoing hamstring injury that has been intermittently troubling him since the Australian summer.
“A decision on his return to cricket will be made once we have evaluated the findings and considered the possible management options.”