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Rediff News  All News  » Cricket » Injury worries for Australia ahead of NZ Test

Injury worries for Australia ahead of NZ Test

November 23, 2011 16:39 IST

Australia paceman Mitchell Johnson and all rounder Shane Watson may miss the first Test against New Zealand after suffering injuries during the South Africa tour.

Johnson sustained a toe injury during Australia's victory in the second Test against South Africa, while Watson remained under a cloud after straining his hamstring, Cricket Australia said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mitchell Johnson"Mitchell Johnson has an injury to the main joint of his big toe in the left foot," the team's physiotherapist said in the statement.

"The scans will be reviewed in the next 24 hours and he will also be assessed by medical staff at the WACA on return to Perth.

"Shane Watson had a scan that has confirmed the extent of the hamstring injury he sustained in the first innings of the second Test."

Late-bloomer Ryan Harris, Australia's most consistent fast bowler over the past year, expects to be start the Test in Brisbane but is also a fitness concern after sustaining a hip injury in South Africa which forced him to leave the tour early.

"I'm planning to be fit, the other thing now is I've got to be picked again," the 32-year-old said on Wednesday.

"There's a young fellow that's done pretty well over there, obviously got an opportunity because of my injury," Harris said, referring to 18-year-old Pat Cummins, who became the youngest Test debutant to take five wickets in Australia's second Test victory over the Proteas.

Captain Michael Clarke, who also sits on Australia's five-man selectors panel, backed Watson to play in the match that starts next Thursday even if it meant resting him from bowling duties.

"If Watto couldn't bowl, he's still one of our front-line batters so yeah, I'd be more than happy to have him in the team just as a batsman," Clarke said at Sydney airport.

Clarke also backed under-pressure Johnson and former skipper Ricky Ponting to be retained for the two-Test series after each played important roles in the record run chase in the second and final Test at the Wanderers.

Johnson took only three wickets for 255 runs in the series but blasted an unbeaten 40 in the second Test after Ponting scored a 62, his highest Test score in nearly two years.

"I've been watching Ricky bat in the nets, I know he's in good nick," Clarke said.

"Under pressure the other night he did that. But the reality is he needs to continue to perform better than he had done of late to stay in the team."

New Zealand play a four-day tour match against Australia A in Brisbane starting on Thursday. The second Test will be played in Hobart from December 9.

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