Shane Watson will play his first state game of the season in today’s Matador Cup preliminary final.
Shane Watson will play his first state game of the season in today’s Matador Cup preliminary final. GETTY IMAGES

Shane Watson returns as NSW battle for spot in final

QUEENSLAND has lost in-form batsman Usman Khawaja to a broken thumb, while New South Wales has regained Australian all-rounder Shane Watson for today's Matador One-Day Cup elimination final at Blacktown Oval in Sydney.

Khawaja, the leading run-scorer in the tournament with 523 at 74.71, was due to see a hand specialist in Sydney yesterday to determine the extent of a thumb fracture he suffered while scoring 120 in Wednesday's win against top-of-the-table Western Australia.

He has been replaced by wicketkeeper/batsman Ben McDermott, the son of Australian bowling coach Craig McDermott.

An Australian U19 representative last year, Ben flew to Sydney yesterday and trained with the squad at the SCG.

He is yet to play for Queensland at senior level, and spent the winter playing in England as part of Cricket Australia's scholarship program.

Meanwhile, Watson will make his return to the Blues side after a five-month layoff with calf and ankle injuries.

The 33-year-old stepped out for Sutherland in Sydney grade cricket at the weekend.

He replaces batsman Scott Henry, while Penrith left-arm spinner Patrick Jackson has been retained after making his debut earlier in the week.

One of the country's most dangerous one-day cricketers, Watson has suffered a tumultuous season, forced out of the Australian team's tours of the UAE and Zimbabwe after stepping on a ball at training.

The winner of the elimination final will take on Western Australia in Sunday's final at the SCG.


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