Lee blow draws focus from series opener - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lee blow draws focus from series opener

By Daniel Brettig 16/02/2007 05:51:31 AM Comments (0)

Australia's first match of the short Chappell-Hadlee tour to New Zealand will take place on Friday amid widespread concern for the left ankle of fast man Brett Lee, who is likely to fly home as part of desperate efforts to ensure he is fit for the World Cup.

Lee has been icing his tender ankle at regular intervals since wrenching it while sliding to stop a ball during training at the Basin Reserve, ruling him out of the series.

MRI scans will reveal the extent of ligament, tendon or cartilage damage suffered by 30-year-old Lee, who was on Thursday cleared of any fractures but remains unable to place any weight on the ankle.

His absence will ramp up the pressure on other players to perform including hastily recast allrounder Shane Watson.

Queenslander Watson had looked the part as an opener during last year's Champions Trophy in India, but injuries and the rejuvenation of Matthew Hayden have forced the Australians to push Watson back into the middle of the order ahead of the World Cup.

Noted for his correct strokeplay in the "v" between mid off and mid on, Watson has struggled in the past when required to improvise, but acting captain Mike Hussey said the injury-prone Queenslander must learn how to better tick things over.

"I spoke to Ricky before we came away, and we're really keen to leave Shane Watson in the middle order somewhere so he can learn that art going into the World Cup," Hussey said.

"At this stage that looks like where he'll be batting in the World Cup and so Ricky's pretty keen and Shane is to try and learn and get as much experience as possible."

Always keen to learn, Watson has at times looked like a player conflicted by all the advice he was trying to follow, and Hussey was forceful in explaining that in the end the onus was on the player himself to make it work.

"He can talk to any player about what he should or shouldn't do, but you can't bat for him out in the middle, he has to get out there, he has to get into those situations and nut it out for himself," Hussey said.

"We're giving him advice but at the end of the day he's the one who has to do it, so giving him as much experience and opportunity, he'll get better and better at it."

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