Shane Watson pushed his case for a recall for the deciding third Test against South Africa, bowling five overs in the nets on Monday in Port Elizabeth.
Watson, hampered by a calf issue for most of Australia’s tour, stepped up his rehabilitation in Port Elizabeth under the watchful eye of coach Darren Lehmann, doctor Peter Brukner and physio Alex Kountouris.
There were no obvious signs of discomfort from Watson as he bowled off a full run-up to Phillip Hughes, Alex Doolan and Michael Clarke – the three batsmen who trained on what should have been day five of the second Test.
“As long as he’s bowling overs and he’s fit, we would love to have that extra bowler,” Lehmann said of Watson’s hopes of a return for the series decider in Cape Town, which starts on Saturday.
“We’ll have to wait and see.
“It’s a selectors’ conundrum … it will depend on the pitch.”
Doolan or Shaun Marsh appear the most likely to be squeezed out if Watson returns to the XI.
But the heroes of the first Test would feel aggrieved after one poor match.
“If we have to fit Shane Watson in and someone misses out, it will be really unlucky,” Lehmann conceded.
Jackson Bird and James Pattinson bowled well in the nets on Monday, with the latter striking Hughes on the hand with a nasty shorter ball.
Lehmann and chief selector John Inverarity will also be having robust discussions about what to do with overworked pace trio Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle.
The three quicks have spearheaded Australia’s success in six of their past seven Tests, but bowled a combined 133 overs in the second Test.
It is the highest match tally for three Australian quicks in a Test in three years.
“We’ll see how they pull up,” Lehmann said of whether there could be changes to Australia’s attack for the first time since the opening Test of the 2013-14 Ashes.