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Watson injury could open door for Faulkner

Australia face an impossible task of replacing Shane Watson, should the star all-rounder receive the injury news Test selectors fear on the eve on an Ashes campaign.

Watson was forced from the field with a hamstring injury in Australia's one-day loss to India in Bangalore on Saturday - putting him in grave doubt for the Ashes.

A Cricket Australia spokesperson commented on Watson's injury: "Shane encountered soreness in his left hamstring during last night’s ODI in India."

"He received initial treatment from team medical staff and showed that he was able to bat when needed.

"He will have the injury assessed in detail this week following his return to Australia. At that point we will have a clearer picture about his availability for the first Test."

Replacing Watson is arguably the hardest task of any player in Michael Clarke's team, due to the various elements he brings to the team.

The 32-year-old has taken over the troublesome No.3 batting role, smashing a career-best 176 at The Oval in August before declaring he wants to make the position his own.

QUICK SINGLE: India win series despite Faulkner heroics

First drop has traditionally been the domain of a team's best batsman but Australia's top dog Clarke has shown a reluctance to move up the order to fill it.

Should finding a new No.3 be the main priority, several contenders - including Phil Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh and Alex Doolan - stand out.

But none is able to offer the skills which make Watson so valuable.

His role as Australia's first slip is difficult to replace in itself, and the reliable medium pace and valuable overs he can bowl to give the main quicks a break will also be sorely missed.

One player who offers game-breaking ability, and an affinity with both bat and ball as well as enthusiasm in the field, is James Faulkner.

The confident 23-year-old has grown into his role as a vital member of Australia's ODI team, starring in their one-day tour of India.

He's entrusted with the ball at crucial moments and produced two spellbinding innings of exceptional quality in India.

The first, in Mohali, he smacked 64 runs off 29 balls to steal Australia a famous victory.

More impressively, he scored a remarkable 116 off 73 balls in the series decider in Bangalore on Saturday albeit in a losing effort.

Interim ODI captain George Bailey, another who has built a Test case on the back of staggering run-scoring in India, says Faulkner wouldn't look out of place in an Ashes Test this summer.

"I don't want to sound biased, (because) I've played a lot with Jimmy, but I just can't speak highly enough of him," Bailey, who also captains Faulkner at Tasmania, said of the Test hopeful.

"I don't know how many games he's played of one-day cricket but he almost leads our bowling attack.

"He bowls in power plays. He bowls at the start. He bowls at the death.

"He loves that responsibility.

"I think we've just seen him come into his own with the bat as well with a bit of confidence.

"Teams will certainly fear him.

"It's just that energy he brings is wonderful.

"The competitiveness he brings is something you love playing with. He's got a pretty bright future."

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