HOBART: All-rounder Shane Watson, who is struggling with a tight hamstring, joins a long list of absentees from Australia’s top batting line-up to face England in the tri-series one-day international at Hobart on Friday.
Explosive opener David Warner is officially being rested for the one-day game, although he has also been told by Cricket Australia to “stop looking for trouble” after his latest sledge saw him demand that India’s Rohit Sharma “speak English”.
Michael Clarke is trying to regain fitness after hamstring surgery and stand-in skipper George Bailey has been suspended for a slow over rate against India in Melbourne on Sunday.
New skipper Steve Smith said Watson felt hamstring tightness while bowling in the nets in Hobart on Thursday.
“I don’t think it’s anything too major, more of a precautionary measure to make sure he’s right for the World Cup,” Smith said.
Moises Henriques, 27, will take over from Warner. Shaun Marsh and Cameron White, who replaces Bailey in the middle order, have been drafted into the squad for Friday’s match.
“Moises is one of our leading all-rounders, he has international experience, and in Shane Watson’s enforced absence it made perfect sense to draft him in for this match,” national selector Rodney Marsh said.
Smith was expected to bat in Watson’s number three spot, moving up one place in the order and he remained upbeat despite the shake-up.
“We’ll do whatever we have to,” he said. “This is still an important series for us and one that we’d like to win.”
After Tri-series victories against England and India, Australia can grab a place in the final on Friday with one match still to play against India.
However they face a much improved England, this time fresh from thrashing India by nine wickets in Brisbane on Tuesday.
“The other night we put a batting and bowling and fielding display all together for the first time for a while and it’s about doing that again,” England opener Ian Bell said.
“It doesn’t matter what XI Australia put out, we just want to put 100 overs of cricket together to the standard we did the other night in Brisbane.”
Smith said he did not expect England’s Steven Finn, who snapped up 5-33 against India, to pose the same threat at Bellerive.
“He bowled back of the length on a Gabba wicket which generally bounces a little bit more,” he said.
“I think that will be a little different to what we get out here. We know what to expect from their bowlers and we’re ready.”
The Tri-series final will be played in Perth on February 1. (AFP)