South Africa in Australia 2012-13

Watson backs Haddin, Starc for Tests

Liam Brickhill at Newlands

October 19, 2012

Comments: 61 | Text size: A | A

Mitchell Starc was among those getting an early wicket, Australia v Ireland, World Twenty20 2012, Group B, Colombo, September 19, 2012
Shane Watson believes the variation offered by the left-arm quick Mitchell Starc will strengthen Australia's Test attack © Getty Images
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Shane Watson believes Brad Haddin is "mentally and technically ready to go," should he be chosen as Australia's wicketkeeper for the upcoming Test series against South Africa. Michael Clarke, Australia's captain, has insisted that no decision has been made on whether Haddin could reclaim the Test berth he vacated for personal reasons during the tour of West Indies earlier this year, and Haddin faces competition from Matthew Wade for the spot.

"He's definitely mentally and technically ready to go if that opportunity does come for him in that first Test," Watson said on the eve of his departure from South Africa, where he has been playing for Sydney Sixers in the Champions League T20. "I have my fingers crossed for him, and I certainly think he deserves a chance to be able to take on the South Africans."

Haddin is captaining a Sixers side that has been dominant in the tournament, with wins over Chennai Super Kings, Yorkshire and Highveld Lions. His own contribution has been steady, with consistent runs in the middle order and seven catches behind the stumps.

"If you saw the way he batted today even, his game looks in great order," Watson said. "I think his batting alone looked brilliant. You can really tell even in his set up whether he's going really good. He's in some serious touch at the moment. And as he always does he keeps very well."

Apart from the undecided wicketkeeping spot, Australia also have a full stable of fast bowlers from which to choose ahead of the first Test, expected to be played upon a green, bouncy Gabba pitch. Watson suggested his Sixers team-mate Mitchell Starc, who has four Tests under his belt but isn't yet at the top of the pecking order in the format, would be a valuable addition to the bowling line up.

"There's no doubt that having a left-armer who bowls 140kph and swings the ball back in with a bit of bounce at the Gabba and in Perth as well will certainly be a huge asset for our team," Watson said. "He should be [in the team]."

Starc had a successful stint with Yorkshire in the Northern summer, picking up seven first-class wickets at 21.85 in two matches to go with eight scalps in the Clydesdale Bank 40. He was also their leading wicket-taker in the Friends Life T20 competition, with 21 at an average of 10.38 and an economy rate under a-run-a-ball. Starc was an effective spearhead in Australia's World Twenty20 campaign, and has continued to take wickets, with nine so far at the Champions League.

"The way he's bowling, he's certainly doing everything he possibly can to give himself the best chance," added Watson. "He's bowling beautifully, and he showed in the T20 World Cup how well he's bowling as well, against world class players with a brand new ball. That's just about as hard a time that you can bowl, because you've got world class opening batsmen trying to take you down in the first six overs."

Watson was called home by Cricket Australia to prepare for South Africa's visit, but Starc won't be following him and is expected to play a leading role in the remainder of the Sixers' campaign, as his side have all but secured a spot in the semi-finals. Indeed, Starc suggested he doesn't need a rest because his workload is lower than that of an allrounder such as Watson in Twenty20s and his time would be better spent bowling in matches, albeit Twenty20s, than training in the nets in Australia.

"It's a bit different with me, I'm only a bowler," Starc said. "Watto's got to open the batting and come in and bowl through the innings as well. Watto's obviously had a lot years to work out what's working for him. What worked for me in England was playing a lot of games back to back and I've probably carried that through, playing as much as I can and tinkering with a few little things and getting things right. Even if I did go home I'd have to keep bowling as well, so I'd rather do that in games than in the nets.

"But James Pattinson is back home bowling with a red ball, and I'll have to do some red ball work over here as well. If I can just keep bowling as well as I can and taking wickets, that's all I can do, and try and force my way in."

The apparent speed with which the decision to call Watson home was made annoyed Sydney Sixers general manager Stuart Clark. Cricket Australia's team performance manager, Pat Howard, agreed the final decision hadn't been made until very recently, but Watson suggested that the possibility of a clash between the Champions League and preparations for South Africa's visit had been discussed for the past six months or so.

"There's been a bit of talk, and it wasn't just about me, it was also about other people who were playing in the Champions League leading into the summer, and the talk's been going on for the last probably six months really," Watson said. "In the end you've got to make the most of the time you do have to train, and give yourself - especially with my history - the best chance physically of being ready as well.

"It's just about trying to get the best balance you possibly can, and Cricket Australia and Pat Howard and the medical staff thought it was the best way to go, and having a week to freshen up means I should be raring to go."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Meety on (October 22, 2012, 12:14 GMT)

@Okakaboka on (October 22 2012, 08:33 AM GMT) - "...Watson's comments WILL cause team disharmony unless he has been quoted out of context," - absolutely NOT! Haddin was a valued team member of the Ozzy side during a very difficult period, ALL Watto is saying is - in HIS opinion, Haddin is ready "...IF that opportunity does come for him in that first Test," - there is NOTHING wrong with putting a good word in for a) A mate, b) A NSW team mate, c) A Test team mate. How much weight do you think men of the ilk of Inverarity & Rod Marsh would put into those comments? Very little would be my guess, the Ozzy Team would be a bunch of heartless bust'ds IF they just discarded a former team mate without putting in a good word. Clearly people in the know think that Haddin has still got SOMETHING to give the Ozzy side, & clearly they are not sure how much his past personal issues have impacted on form & clearly they are not sure if he is past his best. IMO - it's best wishes Haddin, but Wade it is!

Posted by Meety on (October 22, 2012, 12:05 GMT)

@Okakaboka on (October 22 2012, 08:33 AM GMT) - the thing is, I hate all the crud about state bias. It is a total fabrication, with zero basis. When you consider the population of NSW is the most populous state & cricket is run better there than most of the other states, there is a strong chance that NSW players or ex-NSW players will get picked. Your carping on about Haddin really does nothing for your credibility as most experts (persons far more knowledgeable about wicket keeping than you or I), have said that Haddin has done a good job as a Test keeper. So comments like "...In my judgement he IS the worst..." - really lacks any real substance, & given the reasons why Haddin isn't the incumbent, actually ends up being callous. It was less than 2 years ago that Haddin combined with Hussey for the only substantial batting defiance of the Ashes. I believe the position is rightfully Wade's now, but I think it is poor form to bag a bloke the way you do. TBC

Posted by Okakaboka on (October 22, 2012, 9:33 GMT)

@straight_drive....Good one! So, he gets one chance. One real innings when the game was already lost. For Australia to win from the position they were in when he came in, he had to be a 'risk taker' ....Then gets dropped...stupidly. Maxwell's biggest error was dropping an easy catch which Haddin does all the time. Yes, that catch may have cost us the match. Watson dropped a sitter in this series as well. S--t happens! So more to the point.... Do you feel it was appropriate for Watson to make those comments? What, do you think Haddin should be the test keeper? @Meety....no, I wouldn't pay that one! Watson's comments WILL cause team disharmony unless he has been quoted out of context. Just seems to me a number of NSW fans getting upset that the Australian team is no longer the NSW team plus a couple of others.

Posted by Meety on (October 22, 2012, 4:40 GMT)

@straight_drive4 on (October 22 2012, 03:17 AM GMT) - I'll pay that one!

Posted by straight_drive4 on (October 22, 2012, 4:17 GMT)

@okakabiasedvictorian - please tell me how "the saviour" glen maxwell went at the recent T20 tournament as opposed to watson, warner and starc. eagerly awaiting your reply....

Posted by reddawn1975 on (October 21, 2012, 13:53 GMT)

I have to agree strongly with zenboomerang Hilfy is a modern day artist with the ball he is both quite fast and that goes unnoticed but he is always over the 140km plus mark and the guy swings the ball to perfection in any country in the world and he can back up over after over.I think alot of people forget Hilfy bowled a stunning amount of over through the sadly defeated English tour a couple years back and then backed up in South Africa no wonder he pulled up a touch lame that show the strength of the man he playing for his country 100%.So to the hilfy knockers maybe watch him bowl this season and see just how good he is.

Posted by Wefinishthis on (October 21, 2012, 9:53 GMT)

I just wanted to add that I agree with so much of what The_Cube wrote. You've described very well the most likely scenario that will play out. You must know what you're talking about. We do indeed need Pattinson and Cummins in the mix, although I'd prefer Harris over Starc for now and I'm not a big Cowan or Ferguson fan. I'd rather see D.Hussey, Burns or even Patterson given a go. One more thing I've noticed, zenboomerang still hasn't explained how "Hilfy was the best Oz wicket taker in the Ashes" because economy rates have nothing to do with wickets.

Posted by zenboomerang on (October 21, 2012, 9:28 GMT)

@Wefinishthis... Perhaps you should just keep your comms to hit & giggle but even then Hilfy showed in his last match to be both a wkt taker & very economical - it was his economy that was the winning factor in CSK winning - & helped greatly in the India Test series, thought unlucky against Eng series... Seeing Hilfy is ranked 1 below Anderson with Siddle in the ICC Test bowlers (above all other Eng bowlers) shows your lack of Test cricket knowledge as your sledging of Hilfy's name clearly shows - sour grapes at losing to the Saafa's perhaps?... Unlike you, I support Eng players or at worst neutral about them - guess we have opposite views on sportsmanship...

Posted by Okakaboka on (October 21, 2012, 5:02 GMT)

@Randyoz....sorry, I have to disagree with you...albiet just a minor point. You said Haddin was one of the worst. In my judgement he IS the worst. Most of the States second keepers are even better than Haddin. Nevill is way better...and a better bat. The Tassie no. 2 is better. Handscomb...the Vic no. 2 is a better gloveman and heaps better bat. Even Carters, no. 3 is a better bat than Haddin but has the same tendency... can drop sitters. Watson has been totally unprofessional in his comments and should be disciplined over these comments regarding selection. This is my third attempt at posting a blogg regarding Watson's behaviour. Hopefully a non NSW moderator will allow this to be posted.

Posted by mikey76 on (October 21, 2012, 0:29 GMT)

Funny to see Australia fumbling over wicket keeper selection as England did a few years ago with the likes of Read, Jones, Foster and Ambrose. Eventually Prior stuck his hand up and is indisputably the finest keeper/batsman in the world. I've got the feeling Wade will do the same for Aus. Haddin is past it.

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