Watson close to bowling comeback: Lillee
Australian fast bowling legend Dennis Lillee has been drafted in to continue to help all-rounder Shane Watson on his long road back to the bowling crease - and says the young star could be back bowling within three weeks.
Tasmanian Watson has not bowled at all this season, as he recovers from the lower-back stress fractures that kept him out of the World Cup.
In Perth preparing for Australia A's one-day match against Zimbabwe at the WACA ground on Thursday, Watson continued the work he started with Lillee at Australia's Cricket Academy over the winter.
And after a vigorous bowling session in the nets, Lillee said he was happy with the progress of Watson's recovery.
"He won't bowl in this game. We want him to make sure that he has got the new technique absolutely second nature before he goes into a match situation," Lillee said.
"I think you will find he will be looking to bowl in grade games before anything else."
"I would say he will probably be bowling within two or three weeks - that is really what we have mapped out for him."
"And that is making sure the physio checks to make sure he is not in pain, and we are sure the action is not breaking down.
Despite not bowling for Tasmania in either first class or one-day competitions this season, Watson has excelled with the bat, scoring 460 runs at an average of over 50 in the Pura Cup, including 157 in the thrilling draw against NSW at the SCG.
He will line up for Australia's experimental under-25 A side against the Zimbabweans at Perth on Thursday, and in Adelaide on January 7, before making the step down to try and complete his recovery to all-rounder status.
Lillee said although the 22-year-old's pace may drop in the short-term, he could return a better - and faster - bowler.
"He is really embracing it and enjoying it, and feeling ten times better with it, so all the indications are very, very good," Lillee said.
"In the short-term he may slow down a bit, in the long-term once he gets used to the action he will actually get back to the pace he had before.
"I have got a feeling he may even be slightly quicker.
"More than that the advantage is going to be that it is going to keep him in the game, and he is going to bowl outswing which he has never really bowled before."
For those who are interested it's good news for Australia.