South Africa in Australia, 2012-13

Watson surplus to series unless he can bowl

Daniel Brettig

November 14, 2012

Comments: 97 | Text size: A | A

Shane Watson rests his sore calf in the dressing room, Queensland v New South Wales, Sheffield Shield, day one, Brisbane, November 3, 2012
Shane Watson will have his feet up for the rest of the South Africa series unless he can bowl © Getty Images
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Shane Watson is an increasingly doubtful starter for the second Test in Adelaide after the team performance manager Pat Howard stated he would be surplus to Australia's requirements against South Africa unless he can prove himself fit enough to bowl.

In the most blunt declaration yet that Watson needs to retain his allrounder status in order to remain an integral part of Australia's planning, Howard stated that John Inverarity's selection panel had placed great store in the ability of batsmen to bowl, particularly when faced with a batting line-up as deep as South Africa's.

The selectors are currently discussing the composition of their squad for the Adelaide Test ahead of a likely announcement on Friday, and Watson cannot be expected to be considered unless he proves himself capable of bowling plenty of overs in the second match of the series.

Watson is understood to be thinking conservatively about returning to the bowling crease, making the Perth Test or even the Sri Lanka series that follows the South Africa Tests more likely avenues for his international return.

"Shane is progressing, if the Test match was tomorrow he wouldn't be playing, but he's progressing and I think when the team goes in on Sunday we'll have a far better indication of where he's at," Howard said in Brisbane.

"For different series there are different policies, there's a position the selection panel take. There are times over the past 12 months where he has been considered in both roles and sometimes as a batsman only, but very much at Adelaide they're looking to his bowling and his fitness around bowling, to see if he's capable of doing both.

"As you saw during the Test match the other day, a fair few bowlers were called on, and Shane's value to be able to do both is pretty strong. It would go against him significantly [if he can't bowl]."

In seeking to assess Watson's fitness, Cricket Australia had considered making him available to play for New South Wales in a domestic limited overs match against Victoria at North Sydney Oval on Sunday, but that possibility now appears remote. Instead Watson will need to show his ability to bowl in the nets, before following up with further training spells in Adelaide.

"The value and the balance of the team is what the selection panel talk about, it's the panel's call on how they come together on this," Howard said. "They assess all of that, the value of it, I know John Inverarity looks very much at what is our ability to bowl lots and lots of overs.

"We were in a pretty unique position the other day when Rob Quiney bowled for us and doesn't bowl for Victoria, so the ability for people to take up some bowling slack credibly is important. Without making it a Shane Watson conversation, the ability to take overs up was pretty well demonstrated in the first Test."

Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood can again be expected to be part of the team in Adelaide, even if the selectors choose not to change the bowling line-up that looked far more threatening in the second innings of the Brisbane Test than the first. Starc and Hazlewood are currently bowling for NSW against the Bushrangers in a Sheffield Shield fixture at the SCG.

"We had a fair few bowlers around the squad in the lead-up to the Test," Howard said. "Josh Hazlewood was there as well as Mitchell, so we're very much making sure guys are ingrained in the squad. We did that all last year, so we want that extra bowler around to get involved in the culture, and to make sure they're ready to do the job required."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by hyclass on (November 16, 2012, 15:03 GMT)

There is a continuing misconception, completely refuted by his Test record, that Watson is a dominating Test batsman who scores quickly. He doesn't. His S/R is 50. To put that in perspective, Katich, considered a slow scorer had a S/R of 49. There seems to be a wilful disregard for the evidence. His ODI S/R and average are vastly superior. The starting point for any investigation into the reason for any such disparity should be here. In limited overs, short bowling spells, run saving fields, limited time spans, he dominates. In Test matches, unlimited bowling spells, attacking catching fields and long time spans, he fails. The ONLY piece of reasoning that can link these two pieces of evidence is that his body fatigues far faster than is usual-possibly due to his physique. It means that when confronted with timelines and pressures associated with Test scenarios, the fatigue causes him to lose concentration and electrolytic loss contributes to his continued tissue injury. Physios?

Posted by magpye on (November 16, 2012, 9:15 GMT)

This is an absolute joke. Watson is clearly the second best batsman in Australia behind Clarke. Sure he hasn't cashed in and made big hundreds, which has effected his average, but he has made a lot of good scores against class opposition. While is it preferable he can bowl as well, he could play as a batsman no problems.

Posted by brusselslion on (November 15, 2012, 16:31 GMT)

Has Watson got any English in him? We'll have him.

Posted by Green_and_Gold on (November 15, 2012, 15:27 GMT)

Your number 3 batman is your best bat in the side - If your batting at 3 and considered surplus if you dont bowl then you shouldnt be at 3 in the first place. Either he is good enough to be the perm #3 (and bowling is optional) or they play him in a more traditional role down the order (5 or 6).

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 13:49 GMT)

Posted by Wozza-CY on (November 15 2012, 11:05 AM GMT)

Henriques. He has been returning excellent figures this year.

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Mate, the Shield pitches are greenies. The batsmen are struggling. There is absolutely no balance between bat and ball. It's all ball!! There was evan an article about the situation recently.

There are 14 bowlers averaging under 25 of whom half are averaging under 20!!!! All the bowlers are returning excellent figures.

On the other hand, only 11 batsman have an average of 40+ of which 5 above 50 and it's easy for their real batting average to be about 40 because all you need is a ton which will easily pull the carpet over a duck and 20 they may have made.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 13:29 GMT)

My theory is that for the 1st Test, CA was afraid of the Safa bowling attack, hence they went for a specialist batsman instead of an all-rounder. But since the bats did well scoring big, it came down to missing a 5th specialist bowler to bowl them out and win the game. This was much telling in the 1st innings where only the groundsman did get a bowl.

I would like Quiney given another chance but on the other hand Australia need a 5th bowler IMO to take 20 S.A wickets. They're batting line-up is very long and unto 11 they have bowlers that can stay in in the mould of Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie. They dont need score runs, just block and let go of the good length balls whilst giving the strike to the scecialist batsman.

I regard Safa's batting line-up better than that of the bowlers.

Posted by reddawn1975 on (November 15, 2012, 11:47 GMT)

Putting it short guys when Watson was just Batting he was playing like a machine banging out runs everywhere.He does no need to bowl to be in this side.

Posted by Wozza-CY on (November 15, 2012, 11:05 GMT)

@Okakaboka- You left out the form all rounder of this year- Henriques. He has been returning excellent figures this year. Granted he needs to do it for the whole year (or two) and he needs to mature a little bit. After some great scores at the start of the year he hasn't converted starts by getting out first over after a break.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 9:28 GMT)

Agreed that he's no Botham or Kallis; but he is still a very good player. He doesn't have big scores under his name, yet he gets 40s and 50s consistently at top of the order, which is important for an Test-match opener. I can't imagine that Cricket Australia considers Quiney better than him. They have lost it completely.

Posted by maddy20 on (November 15, 2012, 8:58 GMT)

He is miles ahead of Quiney anyway, who seems like a walking wicket to me. Why not drop Quiney and play Watson as a batsman? Baffling selection policies!

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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