Rob Quiney
Rob Quiney

Australia coach Mickey Arthur has backed Victorian batsman Rob Quiney to fire in his Test debut against South Africa, but is hopeful Shane Watson will be fit for the second clash in Adelaide.

Quiney has been handed a maiden baggy green cap for the first Test match at the Gabba as a replacement for Watson, who injured his calf bowling for NSW in the Sheffield Shield match on Saturday.

The 30-year-old has been on the national team radar for two years courtesy of his strong domestic form and now gets the chance to prove himself against the best red-ball team in the world.

Star all-rounder Watson, however, could be back in the side before the month is out, with the second Test against the Proteas earmarked as his return date.

"We're hoping he'll play unrestricted in the second Test match at the Adelaide Oval," Arthur said.

"We're ruling him out now because he won't be fit enough come Friday.

"We didn't want this to outplay the whole week, we wanted to make a decision pretty early so we could give some real clarity to the team. I think we've done that."

Arthur conceded that losing Watson, arguably Australia's most valuable player, is a massive blow - especially against the No.1 Test nation in the world.

"In an ideal world you want Shane Watson batting at three and bowling for you, that's the reality of it," he said.

"Fact is, we're not going to have him. Fact is, we won 4-0 against India last year without Shane."

Watson's calf injury capped off a horror weekend for Australian selectors.

While the majority of Test bats struggled in Shield cricket, boom quick Patrick Cummins (back) was ruled out for the season and ex-skipper Ricky Ponting (hamstring) had an injury concern of his own.

Ponting, however, is almost certain to face South Africa in Brisbane.

"Our casualty list up until 48 hours ago was really good," Arthur said.

"We've planned meticulously with all our players - they've all got their individual plans, everything was looking rosy.

"It's just unfortunate that two came at a bad time."

While injury might have cruelled Watson's hopes of an injury-free season, opportunity is now knocking for Quiney, who had an early taste of South Africa's fast bowling battery playing for Australia A across the weekend.

When news filtered through of the recurrence of Watson's calf troubles, Quiney's head spun when he was told he was on standby to play in his first Test.

Less than 24 hours later, the apprentice carpenter is now coming to grips with the realisation of a childhood dream.

"Yesterday was a bit of a dizzy day," Quiney said.

"Once I found out, for some reason I was rushing to pack and got to the airport probably an hour and 50 minutes before I needed to.

"It's easy to say (I'll approach it) the same as for a Shield match, but in all honesty, it's completely different. The build-up to a Shield match isn't like this, is it?"


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