Adelaide, Nov 21 (IANS) When Australia all−rounder Shane Watson did not bat, bowl or field at Wednesday's optional practice session on the eve of the second cricket Test against South Africa, it was clear that he would not be playing.
Soon after the nets, skipper Michael Clarke announced an unchanged eleven that played in the first Test in Brisbane and that meant no room for Mitchell Starc who was widely tipped to replace Ben Hilfenhaus, the Australian media reported.
Watson was finally ruled out, three days after admitting he would not be able to bowl in Adelaide, though he would love to play as a specialist batsman.
Clarke had made it clear before the series began that he needed to be bowling to be in the team.
"Watto (Watson) has improved a lot over the last few days but we feel like he's probably a few days short of being 100 percent, so we are doing everything in our power to give him the opportunity to be right for the third Test in Perth," Clarke said.
"He's certainly come a long way, he's ticked all the boxes with the fitness stuff with (physio) Alex Kountouris but at this stage we still feel he is a few days short."
There was speculation that Watson might play as a batsman in view of of his strained calf, but Clarke said that he and his deputy felt he needed to play as an all−rounder.
"That's Watto's feeling as well, he sees himself as an all−rounder, he wants to be, he knows the impact he has in this game with both bat and ball and he's a huge part of our squad when he's doing both vey well," the captain said.
"Our plans are to try and get him to 100 percent as quickly as we can, knowing that we've got eight days now before the Third Test in Perth."
Clarke said he thought the bowlers improved as the Brisbane Test progressed. He was confident the three seamers −− Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and Hilfenhaus −− along with home−town off spinner Nathan Lyon could do the job.
"We have a good combination, a good mixture of aggression, but also bowlers who can bowl long spells and also dry runs up out there on that wicket," Clarke said.
"Generally, there are periods in Adelaide where you have to keep it tight and we have improved as a bowling unit throughout that first Test. I am confident as a team we will be better for that hit out and perform better than in Brisbane."
Proteas' captain Graeme Smith said legspinner Tahir was a logical choice on the dry Adelaide wicket and saw a big role for him as the Test progressed.
Smith denied the Brisbane Test was a points victory for Australia, saying the match was a draw for both teams.
The skipper also believed pre−match talk about sledging was overblown and that the verbal rivalry between the two teams wasn't "that big of an issue".
South Africa are the No.1 team in the world and Smith believes the higher expectations on his team was a good thing.
"For us, the great thing is there's respect about our performance," Smith said.
"The disappointment of a draw is a good thing for us −− it shows that people expect us to play well. The No.1 ranking is about us performing for a long period of time."