VETERAN AUSSIE all-rounder Shane Watson will return to to play for Sutherland in Sydney grade cricket after a long injury layoff, keeping his hopes for a limited-overs comeback still intact.
Watson, 34, retired from Test cricket earlier this year after he suffered a calf injury in the ODI series against England. The same injury struck him yet again in the Matador One-Day Cup, where he was ruled out of the NSW Blue's final after having scored 132 runs in five innings. Watson did not bowl in the entire tournament.
Despite injury concerns and a loss of form in the recent past, Watson believes he still has the hunger to play for Australia at the international level.
"I got back into running this week. I know the break that I have had even after the Matador Cup made a huge difference for me, to be able to freshen up," Watson told Cricket Australia.
"To have a proper holiday with the family for the first time for three or four years ... that alone has really re-energised my soul. I haven't had a chance previously to have any time off like that."
Watson last played in October, and will return after a month-long gap to play against Hawkesbury at the Glenn McGrath Oval.
Watson says he doesn't regret retiring from Test cricket, but the fire still burns to play for Australia once again.
"Absolutely that hunger is still there as strong as ever."
"There is no doubt at the back end of the Ashes where I was at; mentally all the emotion of trying to deal with everything that was in and around the Ashes; everything that happened over that last 12 months had really taken its toll. "I am excited as I have ever been to get back into playing again," he added.
Australia are set to host India in the Victoria Bitter ODI series that starts on January 12 at the WACA, Perth. Watson will be hopeful of getting back into the scheme of things for Australia.