Injury-plagued Australia all-rounder Shane Watson will make his comeback in Sydney's grade competition on Saturday after deciding against risking a return through the Sheffield Shield.
Following a month out with a strained calf muscle, Watson will open the batting for Sutherland alongside rising NSW star Nic Maddison as the Sharks chase Campbelltown's imposing 301 at Raby Oval.
Watson was considering a return for NSW in the Shield clash with WA starting Thursday at Blacktown but opted out after conferring with Australian team management.
Fearing another breakdown after a summer of casualties, chairman of selectors John Inverarity and coach Mickey Arthur are taking a cautious approach to Watson's return ahead of next month's four-Test tour of India.
If the right hander pulls up in good shape following just his second game for Sutherland in four years, he is likely to be included in the Blues' Ryobi Cup side to meet the Warriors at the SCG on Wednesday.
"Shane texted me on Monday and said 'if it's alright he'd like to play' and I sent one back saying 'I've spoken to the chairman of selectors and he agrees we can fit you in'," Sutherland official Tom Iceton told Sportal on Tuesday.
"I think he's pretty happy with the way the injury is coming along.
"And I assume the fact he's playing Saturday means all the people involved in the decision making process - and there's a fair few - are reasonably happy with his progress too.
"I presume they didn't want to risk him straight up in a four-day match and the fact we're batting this week made it easier for them to say 'play grade cricket and hopefully have a decent dig'."
Watson has indicated he will give bowling away - at least in the short term - to concentrate on a return to the Australian team as a batsman only.
He has until the end of January to convince selectors of his fitness ahead of Australia's Indian tour.