Sticking to their decision to call Shane Watson back home early from the ongoing Champions League Twenty20, Australian selectors on Tuesday said it will be in the best interest of the team, which will take on South Africa in a three-match Test series, with the first match to begin in Brisbane from November 9.
"I know this debate could keep going on but the reality is we've made a decision in the best interests of Australian cricket and in the best interests of Shane Watson," team's high performance manager Pat Howard was quoted as saying by the Australian.
The decision to bring Watson home early after the Sydney Sixers third game of the CLT20 left the team boss Stuart Clark furious, who termed it as a last-minute call which may jeopardise team's chance to win the US $2.5 million league. Howard, however, said he had discussed the matter with Clark in August.
"Stuart and I first met in August and said we're monitoring these workloads very closely and we're across this," Howard said. "He's right the final decision wasn't made until recently. This is a very big series against South Africa - Shane is an important cog for the national selection panel to have consideration of and the reality is you can't play all the games in all the tournaments all the time. The fact that he's an allrounder makes him a pretty unique proposition."
Team skipper Michael Clarke welcomed CA's decision saying playing for the national teams should be every be the top priority for any cricketer. "For me playing for Australia would be the main priority and I know Watto pretty well and I'm sure it's the same with him."
"I'm keen for Shane Watson to get his body right so he can perform throughout these Test series. Cricket Australia are learning from areas we probably didn't do as well as we wanted to last year," Clarke said. "Watto didn't play one Test match last summer so we're trying to rectify what we did and give ourselves the best chance of success. It's not about the individual player; it's about doing what's best for the team," he added.
Chairman of selector John Inverarity also said the panel that met on Monday had all but finalised the squad for the first Test with decision still to be taken on whether to play experienced Brad Haddin or young Matthew Wade as a wicketkeeper.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland on Monday said Watson's workload was being reviewed and "I think it's reasonably well known that it's likely he won't see the tournament out."
"We're concerned about Shane. His injury record is unfortunate and what that tells us is that we need to monitor him and manage him very carefully and we are," he said.