Australia pair in fitness fight
Fitness concerns also hover over paceman Ryan Harris
Last Updated: December 20, 2011 8:37am
Shane Watson: Battling to be fit
Australia will give all-rounder Shane Watson and opener Shaun Marsh time to prove they are fit to face India in the first Test on Boxing Day.
Watson has been suffering with calf and hamstring strains and Marsh with a debilitating lower back injury and both missed the recent drawn series with New Zealand.
The pair have joined Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey, Brad Haddin and skipper Michael Clarke at coach Mickey Arthur's specially-convened batting camp in Melbourne in the hope of getting the all-clear from team physio Alex Kountouris.
"I'm hoping to get some answers today on exactly where they're at," said Arthur.
"It's always far better to be decisive and settle on a 12, but we're probably not in that position just around the injuries to guys like Watson and Marsh.
"If ultimately selected, we'll probably give them as much time as they possibly need to get themselves ready to play.'
There were no concerns, Arthur insisted, over the fitness of pace pair James Pattinson and Peter Siddle who have been carrying minor niggles, or in-form opener David Warner, who has been receiving treatment for a lower back injury during the Chairman's XI match against the tourists in Canberra.
Arthur hinted that seamer Ryan Harris, who was scheduled to line up for the Brisbane Heat in a Big Bash League T20 match against the Melbourne Stars at the Gabba on Tuesday night, may be underdone having not played since the first Test against South Africa in Cape Town early last month.
"He's got to prove to us that he can play on Boxing Day and give us 40 overs over a Test match which is quite a big ask at the moment," Arthur said.
Arthur said it was his preference to have an all-rounder in the Boxing Day line-up, whether that's Watson or Dan Christian, who was 12th man for the second Test against the Black Caps in Hobart.
"It's almost as if you play with 12 players when you play with an all-rounder, so our preference for the balance of the team is to try and have an all-rounder," Arthur said.
"If we have one that we think is capable of doing the job we will play him.
"I always think that you select your best six batsmen, you select your best four bowlers, you then select a keeper and if you can get some overs out of your best six batsmen, then that's a bonus.
"When you're playing at the MCG and SCG in back-to-back Test matches it does become hard when you've got four bowlers.
"I see the spinner bowling a huge amount and we need to be able to fiddle some overs from some of our batters."