Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 2nd day December 27, 2012

Clarke and Watson, what have you done?

Michael Clarke and Shane Watson have had vastly different years but Australia's captain and vice-captain must both stand up in 2013
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So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun. John Lennon had weighty issues on his mind when he wrote those lyrics in a Vietnam War protest song in 1971. Australia's cricketers are involved in nothing so momentous but they can still ask themselves the same question as 2012 draws to a close. What have you done? The captain Michael Clarke and vice-captain Shane Watson would give vastly different answers.

From a personal point of view, Clarke could hardly have achieved more in Tests in 2012. No Australian batsman has scored more runs in a year than the 1595 Clarke has so far accumulated. That included three double-centuries and a triple-hundred. While Clarke hasn't missed a Test in 2012, Watson has sat out of five through injury. In the six he has played, he has averaged 31.45 with the bat and 49.16 with the ball. He hasn't made a century or taken more than one wicket in an innings, though he has contributed to wins, like his final-day 52 in Barbados.

On the second day at the MCG, Clarke and Watson combined for a 194-run partnership that batted Australia into a position from which they should win again. It was an important stand and it ensured that Australia's strong bowling performance on Boxing Day was not wasted. But both men had multiple lives against a struggling Sri Lankan attack further weakened by the loss of the lead fast bowler, Chanaka Welegedara, to injury. No Test runs are soft, but most are scored at a higher intensity than was required here.

Clarke used the opportunity to score his fifth century of 2012 and for the first time this year didn't turn his hundred into at least a double. He was out for 106. For nearly every other batsman in history, that would be significantly above average. For Clarke this year, 106 was precisely his average. Watson made 83 before he was caught at deep midwicket, obligingly hooking straight down the throat of a fieldsman. He had done a job, but didn't cash in like Clarke so often has.

For nearly a decade, Watson has been viewed as a player of immense Test potential. At 31, he still is. But will he ever truly fulfill that promise? He has made valuable contributions with both bat and ball, but could have achieved so much more. Of course, it is hard to gain momentum when a player is injured as often as Watson. Clarke has missed nine Tests since his 2004 debut, including those for which he was dropped. Watson, who debuted three months later, has missed 50.

Watson remains one of Australia's most important players. Who else can bat in the top six and act as a genuine fifth bowler? But Australia need more from him with the bat if he is to settle into the No.4 role vacated by Ricky Ponting. Centuries are not everything in Test cricket but his conversion rate - two tons from 21 scores above fifty - must improve. He cannot afford to lose concentration, not with difficult tours of India and England coming up next year.

Perhaps his 83 at the MCG will be a stepping stone. He occupied the crease for 265 minutes and with the exception of his two centuries, it was his longest Test innings in terms of duration. Against Rangana Herath, Watson's play-from-the-crease approach was noticeable compared to Clarke's light-footed style, and more than next year's Ashes tour Watson's big challenge in 2013 will be to handle the spin-friendly conditions in four Tests in India.

Australia need a big year from Watson, just as they require more of the same from Clarke. The chances of Clarke batting again in this match are slim, and his 106 would be a fine way to cap off a remarkable 2012. It was a year that began with an unbeaten 329 against India at the SCG followed by 210 in Adelaide, and also included 259 not out against South Africa in Brisbane and 230 in the next Test in Adelaide. They are Bradman-like figures and in all of Test history only Bradman averaged more as a Test captain than Clarke has, of players who have led their country at least 10 times.

His Melbourne hundred was good, not great, but as his first Test century at the MCG it was important to Clarke. He celebrated with a hug from his batting partner, Watson, and at the drinks break that immediately followed, one from the team physio Alex Kountouris, whose work had helped Clarke recover from his hamstring injury in time to play this match. But for all that he has achieved this year, Clarke will be judged on how he performs in 2013. He knows it, so he is not getting ahead of himself.

"Not much, and I mean that in the right way," Clarke said when asked what his immense 2012 figures meant to him. "Numbers have never really bothered me too much. It's nice to be making runs and leading by example as one of the leaders in the team. I think it's really important that the captain is doing that. But to me it is about winning games … as long as we keep winning, that's my priority."

After next week's Sydney match against Sri Lanka, that means four Tests in India and 10 Ashes Tests. The major blot of Ponting's captaincy career was his inability to lead Australia to an Ashes triumph away from home. In 2012, Clarke bettered Ponting's best calendar year. If his 2013 is anything like it, he might achieve something else Ponting never did.

A productive vice-captain Watson at No.4 - and a Watson who can string together a full year of cricket - would be an enormous help.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shaggy076 on December 28, 2012, 9:55 GMT

    Ok point taken Landl47 - However I took Pattinson and Harris stats from the start of last summer. Finn we havent seen enough of yet whilst there are several players you havent seen enough of either. But if your judging your team on form against South Africa over the last 12 months surely lyon has to be picked in front of Swann. His average has been inflated by having so many games in subcontinent conditions. We only played one test against India in the last 12 months so I would doubt that game has made much difference on the bowling averages.

  • Dirk_L on December 28, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    I find composing a statsguru query hard, but modifying one is easy. So change "orderby=batting_average" in the URL to "orderby=runs" to see which captain-batsman, by a large margin, has been most prominent the history of test cricket.

  • YorkshirePudding on December 28, 2012, 7:06 GMT

    @Syed Saad Sohail, personally I'd drop Herath for Swann and have Starc, Anderson, Cummings, Finn as a back up 3rd Seamer to replace Ajmal outside the sub continent. You might also consider replacing AB with KP.

    Good win for the Aussies, though we must not forget this SL side is a shadow of what it was 2 years ago, and a very pale shadow of 4-5 years ago, especially outside the sub-continent.

    Clarkes done well lets hope hes peaked and hits a trough around jul 2013 that lasts until say 12th Jan 2014 ;).

    Looking forward to the ashes now, the only major concern for the aussies is keeping all their bowling options injury free.

  • landl47 on December 28, 2012, 6:49 GMT

    @Shaggy076: Nice try, but of course you're wrong. Harris and Pattinson both average over 30 in tests played in the last 12 months. Johnson's only played 2 tests and Bird 1 and both of them padded their figures in this test against some sorry Sri Lanka batting. That leaves Siddle, Hilf and Starc. They all have better figures than Finn, though Siddle and Hilf did it by getting a hatful of wickets against India. To see what that's worth, check Broad's figures in 2011. The telling stat is that none of the Aussie bowlers has come anywhere near matching Finn's 8-149 match figures against the South Africans this year. Starc's best was 8-209, Siddle's was 6-195 and Hilf's 4-114. Johnson had the best Aus figures with 6-164.

    Finn's a very fine bowler. The worry is that he's had some injuries, but Aus knows all about injuries to young pace bowlers. Hopefully he'll be fit for the Ashes and after that we can make some comparisons which mean something.

  • on December 28, 2012, 6:40 GMT

    You're right Brydon. What has he done for Australia in Tests? Deport him to India I say. We'll take him even if wants to bowl left handed.

  • klsau on December 28, 2012, 6:36 GMT

    @Dubious....De Villiers was among the best batsman when he wasn't keeping...On form yes, Hussey edges him out...but i really believe keeping is really affecting his performance(barring a very good innings at Perth)...and prior is easily the best wicketkeeper-batsman at the moment so he can take the the gloves from devilliers...also hussey is 37!(not a big factor as long as keeps playing well..but he may only have around 2 more years left)

  • on December 28, 2012, 6:16 GMT

    any best 11 team has to have virat kohli in it...i think hes the one to watch out for in tests in 2013...

  • featurewriter on December 28, 2012, 6:13 GMT

    Tough to pick a Test 11. I'd be more inclined to select a squad and name a team for the conditions. So here are my 15 best players (in alphabetical order): Amla, Chanderpaul, Clarke, Cook, Hussey, Johnson, Kallis, Morkel, Philander, Pietersen, Prior, Sangakkara, Smith, Steyn, Swann. (And I'd have Smith as captain and Clarke as vice captain.) Two contentious player selections in that list - for most others, I imagine - are Pietersen and Johnson. But in my mind, both are match winners and game changers. I'd have Johnson every day of the week; while having Smith as captain means you'd have a better chance of managing the fluctuating talent and temperament of Pietersen.

  • on December 28, 2012, 6:10 GMT

    Why do they always have to be so negative towards Watson? Is a 100 worth it if your Team does not win? Watson Contributes Regular with Bat and Ball maybe has not had the Best year or 2, But questioning his worth every Possible time does not exactly Inspire, If any one is under pressure would it not it be Wade?

  • KhanMitch on December 28, 2012, 5:49 GMT

    Surely Khawaja deserves a chance now to replace Watson. He would have been a close second to Hughes for Ponting's replacement, just missed out on replacing Clarke for the MCG and now has to be third time lucky. If the selectors don't reward him and pick Maxwell it will show that the Argus review is not being followed but i am confident in the NSP selection panel as they have been getting their selections correct. For the bowling Starc should come in for the Sydney test in his homeground but who will they rest. It would have to be Bird but he did well

  • Shaggy076 on December 28, 2012, 9:55 GMT

    Ok point taken Landl47 - However I took Pattinson and Harris stats from the start of last summer. Finn we havent seen enough of yet whilst there are several players you havent seen enough of either. But if your judging your team on form against South Africa over the last 12 months surely lyon has to be picked in front of Swann. His average has been inflated by having so many games in subcontinent conditions. We only played one test against India in the last 12 months so I would doubt that game has made much difference on the bowling averages.

  • Dirk_L on December 28, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    I find composing a statsguru query hard, but modifying one is easy. So change "orderby=batting_average" in the URL to "orderby=runs" to see which captain-batsman, by a large margin, has been most prominent the history of test cricket.

  • YorkshirePudding on December 28, 2012, 7:06 GMT

    @Syed Saad Sohail, personally I'd drop Herath for Swann and have Starc, Anderson, Cummings, Finn as a back up 3rd Seamer to replace Ajmal outside the sub continent. You might also consider replacing AB with KP.

    Good win for the Aussies, though we must not forget this SL side is a shadow of what it was 2 years ago, and a very pale shadow of 4-5 years ago, especially outside the sub-continent.

    Clarkes done well lets hope hes peaked and hits a trough around jul 2013 that lasts until say 12th Jan 2014 ;).

    Looking forward to the ashes now, the only major concern for the aussies is keeping all their bowling options injury free.

  • landl47 on December 28, 2012, 6:49 GMT

    @Shaggy076: Nice try, but of course you're wrong. Harris and Pattinson both average over 30 in tests played in the last 12 months. Johnson's only played 2 tests and Bird 1 and both of them padded their figures in this test against some sorry Sri Lanka batting. That leaves Siddle, Hilf and Starc. They all have better figures than Finn, though Siddle and Hilf did it by getting a hatful of wickets against India. To see what that's worth, check Broad's figures in 2011. The telling stat is that none of the Aussie bowlers has come anywhere near matching Finn's 8-149 match figures against the South Africans this year. Starc's best was 8-209, Siddle's was 6-195 and Hilf's 4-114. Johnson had the best Aus figures with 6-164.

    Finn's a very fine bowler. The worry is that he's had some injuries, but Aus knows all about injuries to young pace bowlers. Hopefully he'll be fit for the Ashes and after that we can make some comparisons which mean something.

  • on December 28, 2012, 6:40 GMT

    You're right Brydon. What has he done for Australia in Tests? Deport him to India I say. We'll take him even if wants to bowl left handed.

  • klsau on December 28, 2012, 6:36 GMT

    @Dubious....De Villiers was among the best batsman when he wasn't keeping...On form yes, Hussey edges him out...but i really believe keeping is really affecting his performance(barring a very good innings at Perth)...and prior is easily the best wicketkeeper-batsman at the moment so he can take the the gloves from devilliers...also hussey is 37!(not a big factor as long as keeps playing well..but he may only have around 2 more years left)

  • on December 28, 2012, 6:16 GMT

    any best 11 team has to have virat kohli in it...i think hes the one to watch out for in tests in 2013...

  • featurewriter on December 28, 2012, 6:13 GMT

    Tough to pick a Test 11. I'd be more inclined to select a squad and name a team for the conditions. So here are my 15 best players (in alphabetical order): Amla, Chanderpaul, Clarke, Cook, Hussey, Johnson, Kallis, Morkel, Philander, Pietersen, Prior, Sangakkara, Smith, Steyn, Swann. (And I'd have Smith as captain and Clarke as vice captain.) Two contentious player selections in that list - for most others, I imagine - are Pietersen and Johnson. But in my mind, both are match winners and game changers. I'd have Johnson every day of the week; while having Smith as captain means you'd have a better chance of managing the fluctuating talent and temperament of Pietersen.

  • on December 28, 2012, 6:10 GMT

    Why do they always have to be so negative towards Watson? Is a 100 worth it if your Team does not win? Watson Contributes Regular with Bat and Ball maybe has not had the Best year or 2, But questioning his worth every Possible time does not exactly Inspire, If any one is under pressure would it not it be Wade?

  • KhanMitch on December 28, 2012, 5:49 GMT

    Surely Khawaja deserves a chance now to replace Watson. He would have been a close second to Hughes for Ponting's replacement, just missed out on replacing Clarke for the MCG and now has to be third time lucky. If the selectors don't reward him and pick Maxwell it will show that the Argus review is not being followed but i am confident in the NSP selection panel as they have been getting their selections correct. For the bowling Starc should come in for the Sydney test in his homeground but who will they rest. It would have to be Bird but he did well

  • righthandbat on December 28, 2012, 5:37 GMT

    It would be nice if Australia moved Clarke and Hussey up to 3 and 4 respectively. Sure, they've been scoring well lower down the order. But one day the top order will fail, and they'll fail as well. Why not give your newer players, like Khawaja or Hughes, a chance to shine at 5 or 6 before moving them up the order?

    Then, when Hussey retires, the newer batsmen can move into number 4.

    Also: why not have a rotational policy for batsmen as well? Having a 'squad' of players is a modern concept but it's nice to have people that can just walk back into the team. Australia should make the most of Sydney being a dead rubber and give Khawaja and Bailey a game and shuffle the order. Siddle should be rotated for Starc.

    SCG team: Cowan, Warner, Clarke, Hughes, Khawaja, Bailey, Wade, Johnson, Starc, Lyon, Bird.

  • Kalaripayattu on December 28, 2012, 5:35 GMT

    Johnson & Johnson band-aid.. official sponsors of Sri Lankan cricket

  • on December 28, 2012, 5:27 GMT

    Cook, Smith, Amla, De Villiers, Clarke, Prior, Philander, Morkel, Steyn, Herath, Ajmal (this side only needs 6 batsmen, and majority of the teams will be bowled out with the bowling line up)...

  • m0se on December 28, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    Watson was the T20 world cup man of the series this year. How can you omit that in the article even if you're focusing on his test career.

  • popcorn on December 28, 2012, 4:36 GMT

    Have the Selectors been fair to Shane Watson? For a long time he was touted as Australia's MVP -Most Valuable Player because of his ability as an Opener in Test Cricket and ODIs to decimate the opposition. He was bowling well too - WHILE BATTING IN THAT POSITION.Unfortunately,he was injured,and Australia found a new opening pair in Cowan and Warner.So NOW they do not have a place for him as an Opener,though I see him as a more reliable,and equally destrucive opener as David Warner.Now they want him to BOWL MORE to secure his place in the Team. So they placed him at Number 3 while Ponting was still playing,while moving Ponting to no.4,which was incorrect,because Ponting is best at Number 3.Ponting did not perform well at No.4,because he is not used to that position, just as Michael Clarke scores his best at No.5,and did not do well at Number 4.If they wanted Watson in the side,why shuffle him up and down? It should have been a straight swap between Ponting and Khawaja,with Watson at 4.

  • Dubious on December 28, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    kslau, picking De Villiers over Hussey is a joke right? Pick De Villiers over Prior if you must, but not Hussey.

  • Shaggy076 on December 28, 2012, 2:27 GMT

    Skilebow - in the lasst 12 months Finn is averaging 30, Harris, Hilfenhaus, Siddle, Starc, Pattinson, Johnson and Bird are all averaging under that.

  • wellrounded87 on December 28, 2012, 2:26 GMT

    @Jonathan_E i wouldn't pick Anderson over Pattinson, Cummins or Ryan Harris provided they were fully fit but given they're all injured Anderson is certainly in better knick than any of our fit bowlers. Bird looks promising though.

  • wellrounded87 on December 28, 2012, 2:21 GMT

    @klsau I'd slot Hussey in over devilliers, Philander over morkel and Pattinson over Anderson provided Patto is fit.

    Anderson is overrated. He's got a lot of wickets but only because he's played more matches and bowled more overs than anyone else. His average is par for fast bowlers at 30+

  • landl47 on December 28, 2012, 2:05 GMT

    @Jonathan_E: that's exactly the team I'd select. Watson's averages of 31 with the bat and 49 with the ball in 2012 don't get him anywhere near the side. Better to have a top batsman and one less bowler than a guy who isn't really either.

  • NickeyT on December 28, 2012, 1:04 GMT

    Well Charlzy, adding Herath is not combining the "top 3 test teams" (according to klsau). So I guess I may now throw my best XI combining all the Test teams :

    Cook, Amla, Clarke, Sangakkara, Chanderpaul, Jadeja, Prior, Ashwin, Swann, Steyn, X X could be : Morkel, Philander, Woakes

  • arun_an on December 27, 2012, 23:44 GMT

    I don't think indian tours should be considered difficult anymore!

  • LaraTheGenius on December 27, 2012, 23:02 GMT

    Aus need not worry about India tour at the least. Watson will easily score at least few hundreds there. Clarke and Hussey will be scoring couple of double and triple hundreds. Aus will win 3-0.

  • charlzy_33 on December 27, 2012, 21:55 GMT

    @klsau agree almost 100%, just 2 changes M. Hussey over AB De Villiers (AB 815 runs at 58 with 2 hundreds, Hussey 898 at 59 with 4 hundreds) and Herath as the extra spinner (most test wickets 2012) ahead of Panesar

  • on December 27, 2012, 21:46 GMT

    @TheLoneStranger Watson is not good enough to be in the Australian team as a batsman. I honestly think he needs to lose some weight (muscle bulk included) because the stress his bulk puts on his body isn't conducive to bowling. His real choice is between bowling and Brut advertisements. I think all the time players spend working out in the gym is generally harmful - they should be concentrating on cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and believe it or not: cricket skills.

  • Buggsy on December 27, 2012, 21:45 GMT

    @skilebow - Finn is never fit, that's why. He's England's equivalent of Pat Cummins. Two bowlers with great potential but can't stay on the field long enough to prove it.

  • klsau on December 27, 2012, 21:11 GMT

    while we're at it,let me throw in a combined Xi of the top 3 test teams: Graeme Smith,Cook,amla,kallis,clarke,de villiers(not keeping),prior, swann, morkel,steyn and anderson..panesar would be the extra spinner

  • skilebow on December 27, 2012, 20:44 GMT

    @Jonathan_E - Finn gets in ahead of any aussie bowler for me

  • 777aditya on December 27, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    Only a team like Australia can afford to ignore players of Bradley Hodge and Stuart Macgill's caliber (in this last decade). While Hayden and Hussey still had a chance of making the most of their seemingly late debuts, my heart goes for Hodge and Macgill, who in any other team in the world could have played at least 100 tests each.

  • on December 27, 2012, 18:15 GMT

    I dont understand why Watson wasnt allowed to continue as an opener with Katich. those 2 scored over 1.5 K runs @ an average of over 54 as opening partners. Katich was still good enough when he was kicked out of the side. In fact since the start of the Ashes 09 there have been only 4 top order (wickets 1,2 &3) partnerships of over 200 runs that average over 50 & they all involved Simon Katich . with Ponting the average was 59, with Hussey almost 70 & with Hughes 53

  • landl47 on December 27, 2012, 18:07 GMT

    Watson insisted that he'd recovered well from his large bowling workload in the first test, but he could barely get to the wicket to bowl and didn't send down a delivery above 128kph. I haven't heard when his injury took place (presumably in his third over), but it's not a surprise that it did. He appeared as stiff as a board. He's one of those players who looks as though he should be really valuable, but the fact is he's not a good enough batsman to be in the top 5 (average 37 and only 2 tons in 38 tests) and he can't carry any sort of a bowling workload without breaking down. He's a bits and pieces player who looks as though he should be a lot more.

    Clarke's had a wonderful year both as a batsman and as a captain. The only problem for him is that his side depends on him to a greater degree than any other test side relies on a single player. If his form drops off at all, or if he's injured, Aus has only Hussey as a dependable batsman and he'll be 38 before the Ashes tests start.

  • TheLoneStranger on December 27, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    I submitted a comment earlier on this match in which I mentioned Shane Watson's vulnerability to injury when bowling and telling the selectors that Blind Freddie could see what they can't; that is, that Watson has missed 50 tests since his debut, due to injury brought about almost exclusively by his bowling. Now it's happened again! If this man is to continue his test career is M-U-S-T be as a specialist batsman. His career has already been butchered by selectors and captains. Let's hope the lesson is now learned!!!

  • Jonathan_E on December 27, 2012, 17:31 GMT

    Anderson, on current form, would keep out *any* of the current Aussie bowlers, bowling on any pitch, against anybody. Watson is just not quite good enough with bat or ball to justify a place with either in a combined Eng/Aus team, and Prior is streets ahead of Wade both as keeper and for consistency of batting.

    Cook, Warner, Trott, Pietersen, Clarke, Hussey, Prior, Swann, Siddle, Starc, Anderson - that's my combined Eng/Aus team. If the pitch is a spinner's pitch, then drop one of the Aussie quicks (either Siddle or Starc - I'd drop Starc and keep Siddle because he's less likely to break down) to bring in Panesar. If a fifth bowler is needed, there's Clarke's SLA, Trott's medium-paced dobbers, Hussey's occasional offbreaks and Warner's occasional legbreaks...

  • DaveMorton on December 27, 2012, 17:26 GMT

    On the subject of the combined Eng/Oz XI, I would think that Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Prior, Swann and Anderson are nailed on selections, with Panesar the next best spinner, should two be needed. Only Clarke of the Australians is an obvious selection, though Hussey is excluded on grounds of age only. No follower of English County Cricket could ever overlook this superb player. Of the quick bowlers, Finn would seem to be ahead of the rest, but Australia has found an exciting group of up-and-comers, with Starc and Pattinson two in strong contention. Australia has also found a group of fresh new batsmen, though their continued selection of Hughes is amazing.....though cricketers do improve, as has been pointed out. Khawaja seems to have more about him, and Warner looks a genuinely good player. We too have an outstanding young batsman in Joe Root. Trust me, I'm a Yorkshireman.

  • on December 27, 2012, 16:41 GMT

    i think Clarke is now world Class player.

  • keecha on December 27, 2012, 16:31 GMT

    @thectexperience - I just had a look at ur combined team. Did u miss Mat Prior? Can Wade make it ahead of him in a test side? I doubt.

  • SamRoy on December 27, 2012, 16:19 GMT

    @KernelMarksII Of course, that's his best test innings till date. But what did he do after that? Failed in all 3 innings against SA in SA. What I am saying, in England it would be unfair to expect Clarke to score a big hundred (150+) in 4 out of 5 tests. He might get 2-3 hundreds but I don't expect more than 2 really big scores from him in England and so shouldn't Australia.

  • jmcilhinney on December 27, 2012, 16:09 GMT

    I don't think that there's any doubt that Clarke is a critical cog in the Australia team right now. I think the best thing about he and Hussey batting so low in the order is it means that there are four men above them who can bat with a bit more freedom because they have the confidence that those two can and will dig them out of a hole if they fall into one. It may not always happen but the Aussie top four would feel that it most likely would, so they have the confidence to play an attacking game and become more successful themselves as a result.

  • jmcilhinney on December 27, 2012, 16:05 GMT

    @thectexperience on (December 27 2012, 14:09 PM GMT), while a case could be made to make a few changes to your XI here and there, there's nothing really wrong with it except the glaring omission of Matt Prior. I'm not sure that you could realistically say that Wade's glovework has been superior to Prior's but I don't see how anyone could claim that Wade is the better batsman. It's early days for Wade, no doubt, but Prior is the easy pick as keeper between the two right now.

  • bford1921 on December 27, 2012, 16:05 GMT

    really you would have Wade over Prior, or Watson over Trott, or any Aussie bowler over Finn? you need a job as an Aussie selector!

  • pupfan1595 on December 27, 2012, 15:48 GMT

    @ Chris_Howard viv and yousuf was not captain when they scored so many runs in a yr..and clarke most of the times got out searching for quick runs to win the match. only graeme smith s scored many runs as a captain than clarke in a year and smith scored 488 of 1656 in a year against bangladesh.

  • thectexperience on December 27, 2012, 14:09 GMT

    How provocative from ForwardDefensive! For my part, I wonder whether any of the English fast bowlers would make it into the Australian line-up (if you'll allow me the liberty to presume that they are all fully fit and available). Perhaps Anderson could slot in next to Pattinson, Siddle and Watson, but then again Starc and Johnson seem to have the potential to supersede Anderson if they find consistency. Props to Cook and your middle-order, of course. Personally, my combined Eng-Aus side would be as follows: Cook, Warner, Hussey, Pietersen, Clarke, Watson, Wade, Siddle, Pattinson, Swann, Anderson

  • Chris_Howard on December 27, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    It could be of concern though that Clarke has scored only 5 centuries in 18 innings. When Yousuf set the record in 2006, he scored 9 centuries in 19 innings . And when Viv Richards set the record, he'd scored 7 in 19 innings. Clarke has been very good but what he's done best is turn 100s into doubles or more - between centuries he hasn't been as reliable. Yousuf and Richards though were much more consistent.

  • BoratShah on December 27, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    Spoke too soon, Watson already in doubt for First test of 2013

  • KerneelsMerkII on December 27, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    SamRoy - you seem to be forgetting his 150 odd at Newlands last year. As far as I am concerned that score in difficult conditions tops any of his innings of 2012. As a neutral, I am really looking forward to the Ashes. I have a feeling that England will be too good, but if all the Aus quicks are available we could be in for some memorable tests.

    South Africa is however still better than both of them...(appropriate smiley face)

  • Shaggy076 on December 27, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    ForwardDefensive - I might remind you that in the last couple of Ashes series England stuck with the failed Ashes players of Cook, Strauss, Bell, Anderson, Panesar and Harmison. Players do improve with time. As England only have one opener I would imagine Warner would be picked, Hussey and Clarke walk up starts. I would pick at least two of our fast bowlers as well.

  • on December 27, 2012, 12:40 GMT

    Congratulations to Watto. Although I never supported him being on the test team, since I believe he is not test material. I always maintain that test batsmen from No 1 - 6 should be century makers and Watto isn't a century maker. In addition I maintained he should bat at No 6. But I hope this 83 will break the chains and he can prove me all wrong. He is a very energetic player I fully support him to prove me wrong. Good luck Watto!

  • DaveMorton on December 27, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    Australians seem to be lukewarm about Watson, but if he were English he would be the perfect man to fill our 6 slot, especially in the subcontinent when 2 spinners are essential. Clarke would also get into the England team (obviously!) but not many of the other Aussies would. Some of the 2010/11 Ashes failures are still being selected, though Warner, Cowan, Starc, Bird look a lot better than the players they have replaced, and this should make for a great series in England. Bring it on!

  • SamRoy on December 27, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    Clarke has been awesome but only at home. The only series he played this year away from home he was just average. So it will be too much to expect him replicate his home form in England (India bowling is very average and he can very well replicate his form in India).

  • Marcio on December 27, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    Watson should be opening the batting, where his best results by far have been achieved. He averages 43 there, and elsewhere no more than 28. His technique is excellent against fast bowling. Why we separated him and Warner I'll never know. Make him an opener and give him the odd few overs (that's all SA give Kallis). That's how you'll get the best from Watson.

  • TheLoneStranger on December 27, 2012, 10:25 GMT

    Whether or not Watson achieves good results in 2013 is dependent upon the selectors realising that he cannot be expected to be a consistent top-order batsman AND a consistent top-notch bowler. It's not that he isn't good at both; it's the fact that apart from the selectors, Blind Freddie can see that Watson's injury-prone body CANNOT handle both tasks and it is his bowling that has caused him the most trouble in the past. Those figures are telling: Clarke missing nine tests, including when he was dropped, to Watson's 50, and they debuted only three months apart! Shane needs to be used like a Doug Walters or a Greg Chappell; a few overs when needed, especially when a partnership needs to be broken.

  • RoJayao on December 27, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    Two things are certain: Clarke is already a vastly superior captain to Ponting regardless of what happens in India or England; Watson is as predictable in his mediocrity as a batsman as he is in finding the least helpful time to get injured again! That dismissal today was pure brain fade and as easily predictable as it gets! Immensely talented, hugely disappointing.

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  • RoJayao on December 27, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    Two things are certain: Clarke is already a vastly superior captain to Ponting regardless of what happens in India or England; Watson is as predictable in his mediocrity as a batsman as he is in finding the least helpful time to get injured again! That dismissal today was pure brain fade and as easily predictable as it gets! Immensely talented, hugely disappointing.

  • TheLoneStranger on December 27, 2012, 10:25 GMT

    Whether or not Watson achieves good results in 2013 is dependent upon the selectors realising that he cannot be expected to be a consistent top-order batsman AND a consistent top-notch bowler. It's not that he isn't good at both; it's the fact that apart from the selectors, Blind Freddie can see that Watson's injury-prone body CANNOT handle both tasks and it is his bowling that has caused him the most trouble in the past. Those figures are telling: Clarke missing nine tests, including when he was dropped, to Watson's 50, and they debuted only three months apart! Shane needs to be used like a Doug Walters or a Greg Chappell; a few overs when needed, especially when a partnership needs to be broken.

  • Marcio on December 27, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    Watson should be opening the batting, where his best results by far have been achieved. He averages 43 there, and elsewhere no more than 28. His technique is excellent against fast bowling. Why we separated him and Warner I'll never know. Make him an opener and give him the odd few overs (that's all SA give Kallis). That's how you'll get the best from Watson.

  • SamRoy on December 27, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    Clarke has been awesome but only at home. The only series he played this year away from home he was just average. So it will be too much to expect him replicate his home form in England (India bowling is very average and he can very well replicate his form in India).

  • DaveMorton on December 27, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    Australians seem to be lukewarm about Watson, but if he were English he would be the perfect man to fill our 6 slot, especially in the subcontinent when 2 spinners are essential. Clarke would also get into the England team (obviously!) but not many of the other Aussies would. Some of the 2010/11 Ashes failures are still being selected, though Warner, Cowan, Starc, Bird look a lot better than the players they have replaced, and this should make for a great series in England. Bring it on!

  • on December 27, 2012, 12:40 GMT

    Congratulations to Watto. Although I never supported him being on the test team, since I believe he is not test material. I always maintain that test batsmen from No 1 - 6 should be century makers and Watto isn't a century maker. In addition I maintained he should bat at No 6. But I hope this 83 will break the chains and he can prove me all wrong. He is a very energetic player I fully support him to prove me wrong. Good luck Watto!

  • Shaggy076 on December 27, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    ForwardDefensive - I might remind you that in the last couple of Ashes series England stuck with the failed Ashes players of Cook, Strauss, Bell, Anderson, Panesar and Harmison. Players do improve with time. As England only have one opener I would imagine Warner would be picked, Hussey and Clarke walk up starts. I would pick at least two of our fast bowlers as well.

  • KerneelsMerkII on December 27, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    SamRoy - you seem to be forgetting his 150 odd at Newlands last year. As far as I am concerned that score in difficult conditions tops any of his innings of 2012. As a neutral, I am really looking forward to the Ashes. I have a feeling that England will be too good, but if all the Aus quicks are available we could be in for some memorable tests.

    South Africa is however still better than both of them...(appropriate smiley face)

  • BoratShah on December 27, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    Spoke too soon, Watson already in doubt for First test of 2013

  • Chris_Howard on December 27, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    It could be of concern though that Clarke has scored only 5 centuries in 18 innings. When Yousuf set the record in 2006, he scored 9 centuries in 19 innings . And when Viv Richards set the record, he'd scored 7 in 19 innings. Clarke has been very good but what he's done best is turn 100s into doubles or more - between centuries he hasn't been as reliable. Yousuf and Richards though were much more consistent.