Aussie World Cup hopes hit by two big injury blows

Published: Saturday, January 25, 2003, 22:26 [IST]
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Melbourne: Australia was dealt two big injury blows on Saturday ahead of the World Cup, with dashing all-rounder Shane Watson ruled out of the tournament and experienced batsman Michael Bevan likely to follow suit in the next 48 hours.

Watson, 21, revealed he has a stress fracture in his lower back and has been told by medical staff he will not be fit enough to play in the sport's four-yearly showpiece, starting in South Africa and Zimbabwe next month. Victorian Ian Harvey, 30, was named by the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) as his replacement.

Shortly after Watson's announcement, Bevan - for so long a key component of Australia's One-day batting line-up - tore a groin muscle in Saturday's tri-nations series second final against England at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). He collapsed in agony while completing a run and had to be stretchered from the ground, taking no further part in the match. Scans on the injury on Sunday will provide details, with ACB medical officer Trefor James saying a decision would be made within the next 48 hours on whether he would remain in the World Cup squad. "It's a bit early to tell," Dr James said.

"We'll need to see how he pulls up on Sunday. He was in quite a lot of pain. It was difficult to tell if the pain was due to muscle cramping or the severity of the injury, so that's why we need to wait, let things settle down and evaluate it over the next days." Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said selectors would hold a telephone conference on Sunday to discuss their options if Bevan was ruled out. Watson will be on the sidelines for at least three months as he rests and rehabilitates his back.

The Tasmanian, who would have played in his first World Cup, had been complaining of back soreness and missed Australia's first tri-series final against England on Thursday. "Before today, I still had hopes of playing in the second final and now it seems my World Cup dreams are dashed," he said. "I can't really sum up how I'm feeling at the moment. One minute its disappointment, the next its frustration, maybe even some anger at having being denied this chance."

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