South Africa in Australia 2012-13 November 19, 2012

Watson, and everyone else, left wanting

Shane Watson and those around him are finding out that you can't always get what you want

Shane Watson wants to play in Adelaide as a batsman. He also wants to be an allrounder, a vice-captain, and a full-time participant in Test matches, ODIs and Twenty20s. He wants to "stay around the group", only to be rested from duty when he's played so much cricket that he feels mentally exhausted. Most of all, Watson wants to be fit to play.

Michael Clarke wants Watson to be an enforcer in the top three and a smart bowler of critical spells, some of them lengthy. Clarke also wants Watson to prepare himself as fastidiously as Australia's captain does for Test combat, perhaps even by indulging in week-long boot camps. Watson's coach Mickey Arthur wants Watson to be a consistent scorer of Test hundreds, declaring earlier this season that he will have failed as a coach if Watson's ratio of fifties to centuries does not improve significantly.

Cricket Australia's team performance manager Pat Howard and the national selectors want Watson to contribute more to the national side than he takes out, by batting, bowling, fielding and running between the wickets with skill and intelligence. They want him to be more durable, more reliable, less prone to mishap and injury. They want him to be fit and firing for the most important series Australia plays, even if it means keeping him rested from others in between.

The marketeers at CA want Watson as a Test match player but also a muscular billboard for T20, particularly its club competitions. They want Watson to take part in the first round of this summer's BBL between home Test series for the Brisbane Heat. The Sydney Sixers wanted Watson to be available for the entire Champions League, an ambition denied them by CA in an attempt to have him ready for the Test against South Africa.

Watson's management want Watson to be a superstar, commanding top dollar for his appearances for Australia, Brisbane Heat and the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League. They want him to be the face of innumerable brands in addition to contracts he already holds with Asics, Gunn and Moore, Brut, Body Science, MJ Bale and Tag Heuer. They also want him to become Australia's T20 captain.

Cricket New South Wales want to hear from Watson more regularly, communicating with their medical and team performance staff whenever he is recovering from injury to know how they can help. They want to see him playing club cricket occasionally, providing his skill and experience at the grassroots level of the game, and affording them another way of feeling that the hours that go into trying to keep Watson fit will not be wasted.

Former players want Watson to rouse himself from a pattern of injuries and absences they feel has been caused as much by an age of over-complication and micro-management as by any underlying physical flaws in his body. They want to see him emulating the feats of a proud line of Australian allrounders since the second world war including Keith Miller, Ray Lindwall, Richie Benaud, Alan Davidson, Gary Gilmour and even Steve Waugh. They perhaps also want him to ease off the hair gel.

Writers and pundits covering the game want to interview Watson regularly, because his frank comments and willingness to speak expansively make for entertaining stories in newspapers, on websites, in radio and television news bulletins and on cricket broadcasts. They want to write less of Watson's injuries and more of his on-field exploits, less of his brain fades with the bat or between the wickets and more of his capability for brilliant contributions with the ball and the bat, as he memorably showed in Test matches in Melbourne, Leeds, Chandigarh and Galle from 2009 to 2011.

Australian cricket fans want Watson to be playing for their team, scoring runs with his customary power or taking wickets with the craftiness he has developed over a decade in and around international cricket. They want him to show the raw power of his batting and bowling at the World T20, the brutality of his hitting in an ODI against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2011. Overseas cricket watchers also want Watson to be playing, for the game is seldom dull when he is involved, even if it means his capacity to change a match inside a session is turned on the teams they follow.

You can't always get what you want.

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

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