World of Sport

Clarke denies rift with Watson

Wednesday 21st November 2012 7:15

Michael Clarke: No problems with Shane Watson

Michael Clarke: No problems with Shane Watson

Australia captain Michael Clarke has denied there is a rift between himself and vice-captain Shane Watson.

Watson has been ruled out of the second Test against South Africa due to a calf complaint.

Speculation has been rife since the opening Brisbane Test that Clarke and Watson have not seen eye to eye.

The pair were said to have been in disagreement about the role Watson could play in Adelaide, particularly after the all-rounder suggested he would not bowl if selected in order to give his injured calf further time to recover.

Selectors, along with Clarke and coach Mickey Arthur, were only willing to pick Watson if he could perform with both bat and ball, and confirmed his omission today.

Clarke quashed the rumours, saying there was no bad blood with Watson.

"No, not at all. We have a great relationship firstly," said Clarke.

"I know there's been talk of that being a little bit different but Watto and I, our friendship and our professional relationship when it comes to captain and vice-captain, is as close as I can certainly ask for.

"We spoke daily even before we flew to Adelaide as a team and I was kept well and truly in the loop of where he was at, how he was travelling and what he was doing preparation-wise."

Watson trained in the nets at the Adelaide Oval on Monday and yesterday but was limited with his fielding and running.

The Queenslander completed a number of fitness exercises before it was decided this morning that he would be rested to concentrate on a recall for the final Test in Perth.

Clarke said Watson was given every opportunity to prove his fitness.

"Once we got here, our intent was to give Watto every chance, as a very important player and vice-captain of the team, to walk on to this park for the second Test match, but unfortunately we've run out of time," Clarke said.

"He's certainly come a long way. The fitness stuff he's gone through with Alex Kountouris (team physiotherapist), he's ticked all the boxes, but at this stage we still feel he's a few days short of being 100%.

"We are doing everything in our power to give him the opportunity to be right for the third Test in Perth."

Australia remain unchanged from the first Test.

Despite Ben Hilfenhaus struggling for pace on the Gabba deck two weeks ago, the Tasmanian quick has been given another chance, keeping out left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc.

Clarke felt there was no need for any bowling changes after seeing an improvement in the attack towards the back end of the Brisbane contest.

"I thought the bowlers came back really well in Brisbane. We took 14 South African wickets where they took five of ours," Clarke said.

"I think we've got a good combination. We've got a good mixture of aggression but also bowlers who can bowl long spells and dry runs up if required out there on that wicket.

"Generally in Adelaide there are periods in the game you have to bowl quite tight.

"I think we've improved as bowling unit throughout that whole first Test and I'm confident as a team we will be better for the hit-out in Brisbane to come out and perform better in the second Test."

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