Watching Shane Watson stretch out at training in Brisbane has not been enough to convince Craig McDermott that the Australian allrounder will bowl in the first Ashes Test.
However, the national bowling coach still likes what he sees ahead of the Gabba Test thanks to what he believes is a much more encouraging sight in the nets – a fired up Mitchell Johnson in full flight.
Watson completed light running drills before another lengthy batting nets session on Saturday as he recovers from a hamstring injury ahead of the Ashes opener starting on Thursday.
He held out hope that he could bowl in Brisbane but would sweat on the opinion of team doctor and former Liverpool physio Peter Brukner who arrived in Brisbane on Saturday.
“He has certainly given me great advice over the last six months especially with my body,” the injury plagued allrounder said.
“I am certainly looking forward to having a chat with him and seeing his perspective.
“I am confident I will be there as a batsman. To play as a bowler would be an ideal scenario.
“From previous experiences I will err on the side of caution.
“But if my body is right to go that’s what I will be doing (bowling).”
However, McDermott appeared to have already made up his mind.
“We will wait until the day before the game to see where he is with his bowling,” he said.
“But he hasn’t bowled so far. To rip him straight into a Test match would be pretty difficult at this stage.”
However, McDermott was unfazed by the prospect of not using Watson in his attack after watching Johnson tear into the Brisbane nets in the past two days.
McDermott was so impressed he hinted the once erratic quick so easily influenced by Barmy Army taunts was likely to be thrown the new ball in his first Test since March.
“I think there’s a good chance he will if he can use it from a swing perspective – 155 kph inswingers are a handful for anyone,” he said.
“And going away to the left-handers he will be tough to play.
“I like where Mitchell is at at the moment from an attitude or head space point of view and his pace and seam position.”
McDermott was coy when asked to compare attacks ahead of the Ashes Test after running the rule over Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris at training in Brisbane but rated his as “formidable”.
“I back their ability to knock anyone over,” he said.
“Harry (Harris) is probably statistically the best performing bowler in Australian history.
“Sids (Siddle) is in the top five in the world. You don’t get there by bowling rubbish.
“And this is the best Mitchell has been bowling in a long time – and fast.
“From a balance point of view I couldn’t be happier.”
McDermott did not know what Watson’s likely use as a specialist batsman meant for the selection hopes of fourth seamer James Faulkner or offspinner Nathan Lyon.
“I don’t think you can read into anything,” he said.
“If Faulkner is bowling well and Nathan misses out and vice versa that is a selection … that will pan out over the next few days.”