Chairman of selectors John Inverarity has refused to guarantee Shane Watson’s position as vice-captain or batsman for the Ashes.

Australia’s Ashes plans were thrown into further disarray when it emerged that skipper Michael Clarke would be ruled out for up to 10 weeks, further underscoring the need for selectors to debate Watson’s leadership role.

Clarke will be forced to miss a lucrative IPL stint but Cricket Australia hopes the injury will not derail his Ashes campaign, or the Champions Trophy before it.

Speaking for the first time since Australia’s shambolic 4-0 loss in India, Inverarity expressed frustration that Watson averaged 16.5 on the subcontinent, and 24.11 in the past two years.

Asked whether the vice-captaincy would be revisited before the Ashes, Inverarity said: ”Things will always be discussed. Every aspect of the team will be discussed, players and leadership roles. That is absolutely normal and it will be done so again.”

Inverarity was selector on duty for the first two Tests in India. He flew home before four players, including Watson, were stood down from the third Test for disciplinary reasons. He supported that decision, and said the selectors considered alternatives before settling on Watson to lead in Clarke’s absence in the fourth Test.

”I won’t go into details there but it was all carefully considered,” he said. ”There were a couple of other options and that was the preferred option. He was tour vice-captain and he was the one who had captaincy experience at international level.

”We’re concerned about his performances. In those ODI matches back in Australia his form looked to be outstanding, and in the first couple of Test matches when I was there he was playing well until the ball of his dismissal.”

Pressed on whether Watson’s Ashes place was in doubt, Inverarity added: ”We’ll have discussions later this week and through April, and every player will be discussed.”

Watson’s leadership was thrown into doubt when he briefly but publicly toyed with retirement after his suspension. He also raised eyebrows by promoting Glenn Maxwell to open the batting instead of Ed Cowan in the second innings of the final Test in Delhi.

Watson has spoken of his intention to resume bowling before the Ashes, which would enhance his value.

Clarke was under pressure to captain Pune in the IPL and could have received up to $2 million for doing so. As Australia’s only world-class Test batsman, his condition is a huge concern as the team tries to patch itself up for back-to-back Ashes tilts.

CA’s chief doctor, Justin Paoloni, said Clarke’s scans confirmed an exacerbation of previous issues with his spine.

”Michael is having intensive rehabilitation for both his back and hamstring but is still seven-to-10 weeks away from returning to training and playing,” Paoloni said. ”We are confident that it will not affect his Ashes preparation but will know more over the coming weeks.”

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