Australia news December 29, 2012

All-round dilemma for Watson, selectors

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Shane Watson will be pushing against the prevailing tide of Australian cricket should he choose to abandon bowling in his search for a way out of the maze of injuries that have blighted his sporadic Test career. In the aftermath of the Boxing Day Test, in which he aggravated a calf niggle he had taken into the match, Watson admitted for the first time that he was seriously considering recasting himself as a batsman to play more consistent sequences for Australia.

The national selectors and the team performance manager Pat Howard have made it patently clear their preference is for Watson to remain an allrounder, in keeping with a policy to push for cricketers as widely skilled as possible. This has been underlined by the selection of the Victorian Glenn Maxwell for the New Year's Test at the SCG, where his assortment of skills will contrast with the one-note batting role Watson may yet turn to.

"At the end of the Test series Shane will have the opportunity to sit down with a few of us and have that discussion," Howard said. "The selectors have been very keen on having people who are multi-skilled across the board. You've seen many of our players bowl this summer, even the wicketkeeper. I think the selectors are open to discussion with any player regarding how they see they can get the best out of them. If Shane Watson opens that dialogue he's free to do that, and to be judged on those performances.

"Very much the selectors do want that multi-skill ability. That's not just about Shane Watson, they love people being able to bat, bowl, field, bring some leadership to the table, and having more than one skill. When the selectors sit down they do look at that ability, but also they look at the mix as well. If Shane or anybody wants to be a batsman only, well somebody else has got to be able to take up the overs.

"That's something selectors think about when they put up a squad of 13 but also when they put up 11. How can they make sure that Michael Clarke, Mickey Arthur, the selectors and the team have a bowling armoury that can work together and deal with a James Pattinson situation from Adelaide. We got exposed there, obviously, it had flow-on effects for Perth and probably flow-on effects afterwards."

The push towards cricketers of greater versatility may presently be linked to reducing the chances of injuries to the squad's younger fast bowlers, but has its origins in the West Australian Sheffield Shield teams of the 1970s led by John Inverarity and his deputy Rod Marsh, now the senior selection figures on the national panel. The emphasis on batsmen who could bowl and vice versa was pronounced enough to mean even wicketkeeper Marsh bowled his quota in the nets. Howard also noted that at 37, the highly valuable Michael Hussey could not be expected to bowl as much as he has in recent times, leaving further slack to take up.

"The reliance on Mike taking at 37 years of age a lot of overs is something we can't rely on," Howard said. "Being able to do the odd over here and there we've seen Dave Warner bowl, so that multi-skill is being pushed. I know Usman Khawaja bowled in the Chairman's XI and got a wicket against Sri Lanka. So that message is getting through from the selectors. Those who work hard on their fielding, work hard on their other attributes … we want that ability to bat deep, we want batsman to bowl, and John Inverarity and Mickey Arthur and the selection panel do drum that in."

Typically, Watson has been reluctant to play when picking up injuries, even minor ones. Yet in Melbourne he played, his calf niggle perhaps overshadowed by the greater doubt surrounding Clarke's hamstring and the presumption that Watson would take up the leadership of the team if the captain failed to prove his fitness.

"It was a niggle, nothing more than that," Howard said. "If you're a professional sportsman you have niggles you have going in. He had a niggle, so did a lot of guys, but it did get worse during the Test match. That [Watson not playing] was a possibility. But we know that he can contribute, we know he had a heavy workload in Hobart, but so did Peter Siddle, so did Mitchell Starc, and we knew from the lesson from Adelaide to Perth, taking a group of guys all with high injury risks, you can't take everybody in together."

Howard also sounded a note of gratitude for the selectors' fortitude in ignoring public pressure not to rest Mitchell Starc from the Melbourne Test after his five-wicket haul to close out the first Test in Hobart. Mitchell Johnson and Jackson Bird were instead included as fresh pacemen and shared 10 wickets between them as Sri Lanka were routed on two and a half days.

"The fast bowling discussion was a very big one in the lead-up to this Test," Howard said. "There'll be differing views through that process but there's the opportunity to give the selectors a bit of a wrap regarding that. They held firm and I think many of you would say there's been some benefit to that process, so I think on reflection it's been a reasonably positive couple of days.

"Injuries are a difficult part of the world game at the moment that we've all got to try to be very good at, we want to be the best at it, and we've got a long way to go. It's one of those things where if we try to play with 11 [fit] players it makes a significant difference to the outcome of the game."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dr.Qwert on December 31, 2012, 6:42 GMT

    Our tail typically has 3 of Johnson, Siddle, Starc and Pattinson, each very compitent batsmen, even Lyon isn't bad. When our absence of an alrounder came to attention we were carrying tail-enders like McGrath, Kasprowicz, Gillespie & Tait (occasionally McGill). If we feel we need the extra bowler, as we know bat so deep anyway we could afford to select 5 bowlers, or at the least a bowling all-rounder, like Hastings or Butterworth. There's only 2 all-rounders that could make the grade in the top 6 in tests for Australia, Watson and McDonald.

    And people should really stop trying to pidgeon-hole Watson as a batsman. At his best he was getting consistent 70s for Australia and his average is less than 40. A top 5 batman for Australia in tests should be able to string together tons at his best and average mid40s and up. Don't let his exploits with the white ball fool you, test cricket is a different game!

  • zenboomerang on December 31, 2012, 3:48 GMT

    The problem we have had since mucking around with Watto's batting position is that every time he gets injured we have a dilemma on how to replace him - batter or allrounder?... This also meant we had to shuffle the batting order which Clarke wasn't prepared to accept, so a batsman has been picked which has weakened our team & chances when one of our many seam bowlers breaks down...

  • zenboomerang on December 31, 2012, 3:45 GMT

    @SirViv1973 :- "Since i've been watching cricket... Aus in the late 90's & 00's both teams only ever used 4 main bowlers"...

    Seems you missed all the Oz matches... Steve Waugh averaged 8.6 overs in every innings he bowled in - 150 innings with 7805 balls bowled... Mark Waugh managed 128 innings bowling out of 128 matches played - 4853 balls bowled - 6.3 overs per innings... Andrew Symonds 41 innings bowling out of 26 matches - 8.5 overs per innings...

  • Busie1979 on December 30, 2012, 23:49 GMT

    @SirViv1973 - yes Windies and Oz were dominant teams without an all-rounder, but both teams would have been better with a class all-rounder. I agree if you are flogging opposition in less than 3 days the all-rounder is of no benefit. However, the all-rounder becomes more important in the last day and a half, or if a bowler breaks down. One observation about the Windies team was they didn't have a class spinner. By your logic, because they didn't have one, this shows that the need for quality spinners is overrated - because they dominated with only need pace bowlers. Neither team had a quality left armer - therefore, by your logic, this shows that the need for quality left armers are overrated. In my opinion, an optimal team will have a varied attack of 5 quality bowlers, and genuine batting depth. In Watson's case, he is a good number 6 or 7 batsman and possibly the best 5th bowler going around. He needs to bowl more and bat lower so he is not tired when batting.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on December 30, 2012, 14:53 GMT

    How about coming to the rightful conclusion that Watson is not the right type to play the longer form of the game and should stick to ODIs & T20 which he is exceptional at.

  • Micky.Panda on December 30, 2012, 12:24 GMT

    When Maxwell doesn't work out, I think O'Keefe really should be the second spinner /batsman. When a 2nd spinner not required then probably Henriques in good batting form and can bowl a bit, if Watto is out. On a pitch not expected to be useful to Lyon, then O'Keefe could play and pick 4 fast bowlers Australia should be maintaining plenty of options to suit the venue. Pick batsman who play spin well for India. Is that Khawaja? I don't know. Horses for courses absolutely. Bird I think is the metronome bowler we needed with no McGrath or Clark. Hopefully get Pattinson back for the Ashes. Australia is really lacking one major thing. An attacking spinner for both India and the Ashes.

  • MinusZero on December 30, 2012, 9:28 GMT

    The simplest solution is for Watson to retire from tests and concentrate on the short games where he is a far better player. He cant be selected for his batting, it isnt good enough.

  • SirViv1973 on December 30, 2012, 2:24 GMT

    @Joel Chaplin, I think you are right to question whether Watson is good enough to play as just a batsman. The truth is until recently his record would not have been considered good enough for a top 6 batsman. Look at someone like Marcus North similar ave has scored 3 more 100s and played half as many games as SW. He was disposed of quite quickly when his form deserted him. However I think the situation has changed especially with the retirements of Ponting & Hussey. Clarke apart there are no other experienced batsman & there are also 2 other players in the current top 6 in Hughes & Cowan who ave less than SW. I just think the cupboard is bare right now & until Aus are able to produce another couple of good quality test batsman then the selectors will probably have to stick with him whether he offers a bowling option or not. I wonder if the selectors are ruing the decision to pension off Katich!

  • SirViv1973 on December 30, 2012, 2:06 GMT

    @I-like-Cricket, the last test was over in less than 3 days. Sangers is out of the last test so SRL batting will be even weaker. Why on earth do you think you need 5 specialist bowlers to beat them? Since i've been watching cricket the 2 greatest teams were WIN in the 80s & Aus in the late 90's & 00's both teams only ever used 4 main bowlers. The truth is if you play 5 out & out bowlers 1 of them won't get to bowl very much. With Hussey about to retire you need to be looking at batting options, moving MJ up to 7 won't solve anythng.

  • Flemo_Gilly on December 30, 2012, 1:50 GMT

    With Hussey's retirement everything changes. Watto can move to 6, Khawaja into 4 as a direct replacement for Hussey. Gives us a solid (yet young and unproven) batting line-up as Warner- Cowan- Hughes- Khawaja- Clarke- Watto- Wade-Johnson- Siddle- Patterson- Lyon with Cummins, Bird, Starc, Hilf, Harris, Beer as back-up bowlers (hoses for courses) If Watto doesn't bowl- Out he goes to captain NSW and in comes Coulter-Nile/ Christian/ Henriques/ Maxwell....

  • Dr.Qwert on December 31, 2012, 6:42 GMT

    Our tail typically has 3 of Johnson, Siddle, Starc and Pattinson, each very compitent batsmen, even Lyon isn't bad. When our absence of an alrounder came to attention we were carrying tail-enders like McGrath, Kasprowicz, Gillespie & Tait (occasionally McGill). If we feel we need the extra bowler, as we know bat so deep anyway we could afford to select 5 bowlers, or at the least a bowling all-rounder, like Hastings or Butterworth. There's only 2 all-rounders that could make the grade in the top 6 in tests for Australia, Watson and McDonald.

    And people should really stop trying to pidgeon-hole Watson as a batsman. At his best he was getting consistent 70s for Australia and his average is less than 40. A top 5 batman for Australia in tests should be able to string together tons at his best and average mid40s and up. Don't let his exploits with the white ball fool you, test cricket is a different game!

  • zenboomerang on December 31, 2012, 3:48 GMT

    The problem we have had since mucking around with Watto's batting position is that every time he gets injured we have a dilemma on how to replace him - batter or allrounder?... This also meant we had to shuffle the batting order which Clarke wasn't prepared to accept, so a batsman has been picked which has weakened our team & chances when one of our many seam bowlers breaks down...

  • zenboomerang on December 31, 2012, 3:45 GMT

    @SirViv1973 :- "Since i've been watching cricket... Aus in the late 90's & 00's both teams only ever used 4 main bowlers"...

    Seems you missed all the Oz matches... Steve Waugh averaged 8.6 overs in every innings he bowled in - 150 innings with 7805 balls bowled... Mark Waugh managed 128 innings bowling out of 128 matches played - 4853 balls bowled - 6.3 overs per innings... Andrew Symonds 41 innings bowling out of 26 matches - 8.5 overs per innings...

  • Busie1979 on December 30, 2012, 23:49 GMT

    @SirViv1973 - yes Windies and Oz were dominant teams without an all-rounder, but both teams would have been better with a class all-rounder. I agree if you are flogging opposition in less than 3 days the all-rounder is of no benefit. However, the all-rounder becomes more important in the last day and a half, or if a bowler breaks down. One observation about the Windies team was they didn't have a class spinner. By your logic, because they didn't have one, this shows that the need for quality spinners is overrated - because they dominated with only need pace bowlers. Neither team had a quality left armer - therefore, by your logic, this shows that the need for quality left armers are overrated. In my opinion, an optimal team will have a varied attack of 5 quality bowlers, and genuine batting depth. In Watson's case, he is a good number 6 or 7 batsman and possibly the best 5th bowler going around. He needs to bowl more and bat lower so he is not tired when batting.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on December 30, 2012, 14:53 GMT

    How about coming to the rightful conclusion that Watson is not the right type to play the longer form of the game and should stick to ODIs & T20 which he is exceptional at.

  • Micky.Panda on December 30, 2012, 12:24 GMT

    When Maxwell doesn't work out, I think O'Keefe really should be the second spinner /batsman. When a 2nd spinner not required then probably Henriques in good batting form and can bowl a bit, if Watto is out. On a pitch not expected to be useful to Lyon, then O'Keefe could play and pick 4 fast bowlers Australia should be maintaining plenty of options to suit the venue. Pick batsman who play spin well for India. Is that Khawaja? I don't know. Horses for courses absolutely. Bird I think is the metronome bowler we needed with no McGrath or Clark. Hopefully get Pattinson back for the Ashes. Australia is really lacking one major thing. An attacking spinner for both India and the Ashes.

  • MinusZero on December 30, 2012, 9:28 GMT

    The simplest solution is for Watson to retire from tests and concentrate on the short games where he is a far better player. He cant be selected for his batting, it isnt good enough.

  • SirViv1973 on December 30, 2012, 2:24 GMT

    @Joel Chaplin, I think you are right to question whether Watson is good enough to play as just a batsman. The truth is until recently his record would not have been considered good enough for a top 6 batsman. Look at someone like Marcus North similar ave has scored 3 more 100s and played half as many games as SW. He was disposed of quite quickly when his form deserted him. However I think the situation has changed especially with the retirements of Ponting & Hussey. Clarke apart there are no other experienced batsman & there are also 2 other players in the current top 6 in Hughes & Cowan who ave less than SW. I just think the cupboard is bare right now & until Aus are able to produce another couple of good quality test batsman then the selectors will probably have to stick with him whether he offers a bowling option or not. I wonder if the selectors are ruing the decision to pension off Katich!

  • SirViv1973 on December 30, 2012, 2:06 GMT

    @I-like-Cricket, the last test was over in less than 3 days. Sangers is out of the last test so SRL batting will be even weaker. Why on earth do you think you need 5 specialist bowlers to beat them? Since i've been watching cricket the 2 greatest teams were WIN in the 80s & Aus in the late 90's & 00's both teams only ever used 4 main bowlers. The truth is if you play 5 out & out bowlers 1 of them won't get to bowl very much. With Hussey about to retire you need to be looking at batting options, moving MJ up to 7 won't solve anythng.

  • Flemo_Gilly on December 30, 2012, 1:50 GMT

    With Hussey's retirement everything changes. Watto can move to 6, Khawaja into 4 as a direct replacement for Hussey. Gives us a solid (yet young and unproven) batting line-up as Warner- Cowan- Hughes- Khawaja- Clarke- Watto- Wade-Johnson- Siddle- Patterson- Lyon with Cummins, Bird, Starc, Hilf, Harris, Beer as back-up bowlers (hoses for courses) If Watto doesn't bowl- Out he goes to captain NSW and in comes Coulter-Nile/ Christian/ Henriques/ Maxwell....

  • SirViv1973 on December 30, 2012, 1:49 GMT

    @Land47, Totally agree with your comments. Maxwell's selection for Sydney test certainly points to him batting at 6 or 7 in Ind & playing as the 2nd spinner. This is exectly what we tried with Samit & it didn't work & I doubt very much it will work for oz with Maxwell. The make up of any modern test side should be 6 batsman, a wicket keeper who bats at 7 & can ave 30+ & 4 out & out bowlers. If 1 or more of your bowlers can bat a bit then great but they should be in the team to take wickets above anything else. The same goes for your 6 batsman. If you have 1 who can bowl then great but they have to score runs first. With Watson he isn't a good enough bowler to be picked for that alone & if you look at his record, ave of 37 with 2 100's in 69 inns you have to question if he's good enough to play as a batsman. I guess at the moment he probably is but only due to the lack of alternatives.

  • bobagorof on December 30, 2012, 1:31 GMT

    OzWally : Watson's form as an opener tailed off significantly in his last year in that position. He's opened in 24 Tests, but in his last 7 Tests as opener he scored 2 fifties at an average of 29. He had a good vein of form in his first 17 matches as opener, but I think it was just that: good form, which means he would have scored runs in any position. With a stable opening combination, it would be silly for Australia to shuffle Watson up the order again - particularly as the middle order is far from settled with Hussey's impending retirement. Watson's last innings at 4 (83) shows he has the ability to bat anywhere, as long as he can remain fit and get some consistent game-time.

  • Markus971 on December 30, 2012, 1:00 GMT

    Australia need 6 Batsman! If 1 or 2 can bowl well, Great! At least until another Watto or Symonds comes around, maybe Mitch Marsh.. But the top 6 allrounder for Australia is First always a Batsman.. - Not that I agree with that. I think ...with M.Johnson & M.Wade & M.Starc & J.Pattinson U may be able to, on some pitches, Bat them all a place higher giving the option of another Bowler!

  • Markus971 on December 30, 2012, 0:40 GMT

    Concentrate on your Batting Watto & Relax.. You may find out ,like Clarkey did that its more in the head & playing it as it comes, attackingly. U really shouldn't have to bowl more than 100 balls per match(15 overs).. U r a Batting allrounder! & with that scar tissue..mate, you may need Gymnastics Training for a year to gain that Flexibility!

  • Busie1979 on December 30, 2012, 0:24 GMT

    Watson has to bowl more overs and bat down the order. I think his career has shown that he doesn't have the concentration for big innings. 2 hundreds, and a highest score of only 125. If he doesn't bowl I think he doesn't have a place in the team. I think Glen Maxwell is a good selection - his bowling is ok, and his batting is solid - probably not quite ready but the same could go for most batsmen in Aust right now. Lyon should not play if Maxwell is playing. Agree with other comments that O'Keefe is worth a look as well in the lead up to India. Also - selectors should think about picking bowlers who take the pace off the ball in India - eg, Bird, McKay, Copeland. Also - Dave Hussey may be a good stop gap until some genuine young batting talent emerges. I'd pick him instead of Cowan and open with Hughes.

  • on December 30, 2012, 0:18 GMT

    Clearly Johnson will get the chop for the SCG. Can't have a fast bowler taking the most wickets in a test and getting the Man-of-the-Match award and then playing in the next test...

  • CricketChat on December 30, 2012, 0:11 GMT

    Can't figure out the muddled thinking of Aus selectors. Watson is good enough to just play purely as a batsman. It isn't that the team is flush with top batters. Look at the scenario: Ponting is gone, Mike Hussey is retiring in no time, Cowan is barely finding his feet at top level, Hughes is barely back for another shot at reviving his test career. Clarke is the only batsman to depend on when it matters. They should let Watson play as a batter from now on. His bowling will either curtail or end his playing career.

  • PFEL on December 29, 2012, 23:46 GMT

    @Edwards_A, i wasn't disagreeing with that at all, in fact I was one of the first person to comment what a terrible selection Maxwell would be, at this stage. I think he could be an effective batsman, possibly, but his bowling is nowhere near acceptable and i doubt it will ever be. Even in grade cricket, he's a freak batsman but not really much more than a "good" spinner.

  • OzWally on December 29, 2012, 20:41 GMT

    The best we've seen as Watson has been as an opener where his ave. is mid 40's. If he does give up bowling, I feel that is his place and replaces Cowan, it also lends some more experienced support for Clarke. That leaves Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke then ????. If Maxwell isn't ready to bat ahead of Wade, he isn't what we need. I'd then bring in another bat and go with the 4 bowlers plus Clarke, Warner and Watson for just a few (surely he can survive that).

  • landl47 on December 29, 2012, 15:08 GMT

    The Australian selectors (and England's too, for that matter) seem headed down a dangerous path here. The first requirement for a player is that he MUST be good enough at one discipline to be picked for that alone. A genuine all-rounder is good enough at both batting and bowling to be picked for either, which is why there are so few of them. Picking guys who do both but are not good enough to be selected for either alone leads to picking bits and pieces players who won't do well enough at either to help the side. Aus is looking at Maxwell, Christian, Henriques- #7 or 8 batsmen who are 4th change bowlers. England picked Patel for 3 tests in which he made few runs and didn't bowl, before coming to their senses and picking Root- who promptly scored 95 for once out.

    We saw what happened in England in the 1990s when a raft of these players was picked. If Aus or England go that route again, it's trouble. Injuries happen- picking sub-standard players to cover for them isn't the way to go.

  • on December 29, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    "That's something selectors think about when they put up a squad of 13 but also when they put up 11. How can they make sure that Michael Clarke, Mickey Arthur, the selectors and the team have a bowling armoury that can work together and deal with a James Pattinson situation from Adelaide. We got exposed there, obviously, it had flow-on effects for Perth and probably flow-on effects afterwards."

    Selectors own fault here for picking Quiney to replace Watto. Why they had to actually go through that experience to become aware of it is beyond my comprehension.

  • Edwards_Anderson on December 29, 2012, 13:00 GMT

    @rossfleming to add to what you said I was at the chairman's X1 game and saw Khawaja get Sangakara out, he can bowl handy off spins and its good he has improved this aspect of his game. With Hussey retiring Khawaja should get his spot and we can try Maxwell as Watto's replacement though i don't think he is yet ready for test cricket, neither his bowling nor his batting is impressive at shield level.

  • hycIass on December 29, 2012, 12:29 GMT

    @Ozziefan08 good point, i think Khawaja is the obvious replacement for Hussey but as backup i would take Burns too, looks like a good young talent.

  • ozziefan08 on December 29, 2012, 11:35 GMT

    Time for Watson to retire from test cricket. He isn't good enough to be a test batsmen alone nor can his body hold up with the rigors of test cricket. He looks totally unfit right now and to me doesn't seem to have the drive to play test cricket.

    Now that Huss has retired, I would be looking at giving Khawaja and Burns a go. If they want to continue with the all rounder Dan Christian has been in great form in the last 2 years. I would be taking Steve O'keefe to India as the second spinner but I know that won't happen. I'm not convinced yet on Maxwell should be given another season in the shield

  • Chris_Howard on December 29, 2012, 11:25 GMT

    Watson averages 37 in Test cricket. Not good enough to hold down a place. Not sure dropping bowling will help much - he only averages 11 overs per innings. However, he's quite a handy bowler,t. Has a better average and strike rate than Kallis and Flintoff. Watto would be better off cutting back on his batting (move down to 6 or 7) than his bowling.

  • Paul_Rampley on December 29, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    @PFEL i have to agree with Ross_Fleming, Maxwell is a good option for T20 but not a test player, his shield performances this season have not been good whereas Khawaja has been scoring consistently and is the second highest shield scorer after Hughes. His fielding and running looks sharp under boof and as the stand in player last game deserves to come in. Khawaja can also bowl useful off spinners as seen from his bowling in the chairman's X1 where he got Sangakara out.

  • PFEL on December 29, 2012, 10:30 GMT

    @ Ross Fleming, "last three first class innings" - you cannot judge any player from such a short time frame, that's ridiculous.

  • warneneverchuck on December 29, 2012, 9:56 GMT

    Whoever they select SL wil be smashed all over as they have never produced batsman who consistently scored outside subcontinent eg Mahela so called great of SL

  • Sunil_Batra on December 29, 2012, 9:17 GMT

    @MaccaMat it is a sad day today bud, Tony Greig was one of the greats and to add to that the shock that mr.cricket is leaving us. But to add to what Popcorn and rossfleming said I think Clarke and Arthur and co are good selectors and they have Khawaja as the man who logically fills the slot perhaps at 4. His top scores in shield have all come on tough decks and fielding has improved under boof and as acknowledged by Pat Howard he has been working on his bowling and hard work will be rewarded.

  • Beertjie on December 29, 2012, 9:06 GMT

    Agree @Winsome on (December 29 2012, 07:06. With Huss's retirement even those two years will help together with whatever bowling one could get from a now officially reluctant bowler. But Swann will be salivating about the four lefties if Khawaja were to bat 4. MC to move up in Sydney and to stay there with Ussie at #5 and Watto at 6. But please no Maxwell, as most pundits on Cricinfo rightly point out. There are better alternatives.

  • Mary_786 on December 29, 2012, 8:58 GMT

    Today is truly one of the saddest days in cricket with first Tony Greig passing away and now Hussey retering. Mr.Cricket was my favorite player. I am assuming that this will mean that Khawaja finally gets a spot in the team in the number 4 spot Watto at 6 so he can bowl more. If the likes of Khawaja and Hughes can do half as good as Hussey and Punter then we will be happy, true champion of the game has called an end to a great career.

  • Flemo_Gilly on December 29, 2012, 8:51 GMT

    Good to see Howard acknowledge that Khawaja can bowl part time off spinners if required, he did get Sangakara out in the chairman's X1 match, not a bad scalp to have under your record, ask Mike Hussey.

  • Flemo_Gilly on December 29, 2012, 8:50 GMT

    @Popcorn lets hope you are right and Khawaja finally gets a spot in the team in the number 4 spot with the great Mike Hussey retiring. I think Maxwell will be a good prospect in another couple of shield seasons but in his last three first class innings Maxwell has averaged 13 with the bat and in the CA Chairman's X! match against Sri Lanka he did make 91, but took 1/127. His potential selection is the only good news any Sri Lankan got yesterday and surely its time to get Khawaja in.

  • on December 29, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    I dont care if they rest/rotate players, as long as they have a clear order of who the best bowlers are -- i.e. if they say the order of preference is siddle, pattinson, starc, hilfenhaus, hastings, johnson, bird, cutting, .... and they keep to this, so that it is clear that say starc will come straight back in no matter the performances of those who came in to replace him

  • popcorn on December 29, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    Have the Selectors been fair to Shane watson? One day the Most Valuable Player, the next day his place in the side is on the line.He filled in for the horrible performance of Phil Hughes as an Opener in the Ashes 2009,and has fared very well in that postion. HE ALSO BOWLED WHILE IN THAT POSITION. Now the Selectors seem to want Warner and Cowan as the egular openers so they shuffle Sahane watson, first at No.3,then at No.4. In the Boxing Day Test, he scored 83.That's good.So why can't they just leave him at that position? Now I prdeict they will shuffle him to No.6 because Mike Hussey has called it a day.Hopefullythat will be the LAST OF THE SHUFFLES,and Usman Khawaja - another victim of shabby shuffling treatment,will be PERMANENTLY placed at No.4.

  • Winsome on December 29, 2012, 7:06 GMT

    This story is old. Watson's status as an all-rounder has been discussed ad nauseam. It seems that he's not able to play as a bowler for any length of time without breaking down. He's also not that agile in the field, he runs like Saurav Ganguly. I can't see him lasting more than a couple of years at test level regardless of what he does. It's a shame that Aus don't have more successful first class batsmen so that we could dump him from the test team and let him just play short format cricket He is far, far more suited to that than test cricket.

  • wix99 on December 29, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    Shane Watson should stop playing Tests and focus on the one day game. It would then be easier for him to manage his workload and avoid injuries. Also his one day record is much better than his Test record.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on December 29, 2012, 6:53 GMT

    69 test innings, 2 centuries, bats at no.4.. Something doesn't add up here.

  • PFEL on December 29, 2012, 6:20 GMT

    Watson should really give up the ghost in Test cricket. It's an obvious fact when you think about it. He's a decent Test player, and if he can Bat and bowl enough overs then he is a certain starter in any side in the world (but he rarely does bowl enough), and IMO he is a more useful Test bowler than Test batsman. Its been lunacy for him to be batting any higher than 6 or 7 in any case, as would it be lunacy for him to continue pushing for Test caps, even though for an Aussie cricketer that will always be the primary goal. The reason for this is that he is so effective and a downright superstar in T20 and ODI cricket, that he should focus on those versions rather than sacrifice longevity and availablity in them for the cause of playing a few extra tests, where his usefulness has been minimal.

  • on December 29, 2012, 5:58 GMT

    Clearly Johnson will get the chop for the SCG. Can't have a fast bowler taking the most wickets in a test and getting the Man-of-the-Match award and then playing in the next test...

  • on December 29, 2012, 5:33 GMT

    Watto is clearly a world class all rounder, but if he cant bowl he should be dropped. his batting in test cricket is below acceptable for a top order batsmen. look at his stats, other aussie players have been dumped with better numbers. 2 centuries in 69 innings, batting in top 4!!! Forget the starts, pay attention to what he has achieved. How many times was he dropped making his last half century?He looked poor early in his innings and was lucky to get double figures The past 2 yrs his bowling has probably been more beneficial to aus, but its causing or hampered by injury yet he wants to stop bowling!!!

  • I-Like-Cricket on December 29, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    I'd bring in Starc as replacement for Watson and push everyone else up a spot so Starc bats at 8. I think MJ proved he can bat against the Sri Lankan bowlers who're now another top bowler down. Couldn't hurt to give it a run especially since Bird, Johnson and Siddle would feel unlucky to be left out after good solid performances in Melbourne.

  • mike.iz on December 29, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    I think it is a good decision Watson decides to play as a batsman alone.I can remember when he had FC average of nearly 50.Should be doing a lot more batting because I think the bowling aspect weighs him down both his body and mentally. The way he batted in the last inning s was very impressive knuckled down and looked to build a big innings. I'm sure if he plays as a batsman alone hes going to score more runs and get more 100's. He has tried over the last 10 years to b an all-rounder & it does not seem to be working. Hes over 30 now and his body is beginning to come up with wear and tare from all the years of playing. And a batsman good years comes from around 30-34 so he should be in prime position to score runs. Moses Henriques is my replacement to be the all rounder for the Aus team hes on fire in all forms this season. Hers to Watson the batsman...RUNS RUNS & MORE RUNS!!!

  • peeeeet on December 29, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    I have no problems with Watson focussing on batting only as it does seem that bowling gives him the injuries. But if he is to make that decision, he should be told to score runs in first class cricket first, because as a batsman alone at the moment he is not amongst the top 6 in the country in my opinion. As an all-rounder, he is an automatic choice as he is the best one in Australia. Not so as a batsman. I'll be happy if he scores gritty hundreds, not attractive 30s. And if the "at risk" mumbo-jumbo is serious, then Clarke should rest Sydney also and we see how some of our youngsters go in a low pressure test match (which goes against my own thoughts that players should be tried and rested in the short forms so the best play tests, but I don't think that is going to happen anymore).

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  • peeeeet on December 29, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    I have no problems with Watson focussing on batting only as it does seem that bowling gives him the injuries. But if he is to make that decision, he should be told to score runs in first class cricket first, because as a batsman alone at the moment he is not amongst the top 6 in the country in my opinion. As an all-rounder, he is an automatic choice as he is the best one in Australia. Not so as a batsman. I'll be happy if he scores gritty hundreds, not attractive 30s. And if the "at risk" mumbo-jumbo is serious, then Clarke should rest Sydney also and we see how some of our youngsters go in a low pressure test match (which goes against my own thoughts that players should be tried and rested in the short forms so the best play tests, but I don't think that is going to happen anymore).

  • mike.iz on December 29, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    I think it is a good decision Watson decides to play as a batsman alone.I can remember when he had FC average of nearly 50.Should be doing a lot more batting because I think the bowling aspect weighs him down both his body and mentally. The way he batted in the last inning s was very impressive knuckled down and looked to build a big innings. I'm sure if he plays as a batsman alone hes going to score more runs and get more 100's. He has tried over the last 10 years to b an all-rounder & it does not seem to be working. Hes over 30 now and his body is beginning to come up with wear and tare from all the years of playing. And a batsman good years comes from around 30-34 so he should be in prime position to score runs. Moses Henriques is my replacement to be the all rounder for the Aus team hes on fire in all forms this season. Hers to Watson the batsman...RUNS RUNS & MORE RUNS!!!

  • I-Like-Cricket on December 29, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    I'd bring in Starc as replacement for Watson and push everyone else up a spot so Starc bats at 8. I think MJ proved he can bat against the Sri Lankan bowlers who're now another top bowler down. Couldn't hurt to give it a run especially since Bird, Johnson and Siddle would feel unlucky to be left out after good solid performances in Melbourne.

  • on December 29, 2012, 5:33 GMT

    Watto is clearly a world class all rounder, but if he cant bowl he should be dropped. his batting in test cricket is below acceptable for a top order batsmen. look at his stats, other aussie players have been dumped with better numbers. 2 centuries in 69 innings, batting in top 4!!! Forget the starts, pay attention to what he has achieved. How many times was he dropped making his last half century?He looked poor early in his innings and was lucky to get double figures The past 2 yrs his bowling has probably been more beneficial to aus, but its causing or hampered by injury yet he wants to stop bowling!!!

  • on December 29, 2012, 5:58 GMT

    Clearly Johnson will get the chop for the SCG. Can't have a fast bowler taking the most wickets in a test and getting the Man-of-the-Match award and then playing in the next test...

  • PFEL on December 29, 2012, 6:20 GMT

    Watson should really give up the ghost in Test cricket. It's an obvious fact when you think about it. He's a decent Test player, and if he can Bat and bowl enough overs then he is a certain starter in any side in the world (but he rarely does bowl enough), and IMO he is a more useful Test bowler than Test batsman. Its been lunacy for him to be batting any higher than 6 or 7 in any case, as would it be lunacy for him to continue pushing for Test caps, even though for an Aussie cricketer that will always be the primary goal. The reason for this is that he is so effective and a downright superstar in T20 and ODI cricket, that he should focus on those versions rather than sacrifice longevity and availablity in them for the cause of playing a few extra tests, where his usefulness has been minimal.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on December 29, 2012, 6:53 GMT

    69 test innings, 2 centuries, bats at no.4.. Something doesn't add up here.

  • wix99 on December 29, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    Shane Watson should stop playing Tests and focus on the one day game. It would then be easier for him to manage his workload and avoid injuries. Also his one day record is much better than his Test record.

  • Winsome on December 29, 2012, 7:06 GMT

    This story is old. Watson's status as an all-rounder has been discussed ad nauseam. It seems that he's not able to play as a bowler for any length of time without breaking down. He's also not that agile in the field, he runs like Saurav Ganguly. I can't see him lasting more than a couple of years at test level regardless of what he does. It's a shame that Aus don't have more successful first class batsmen so that we could dump him from the test team and let him just play short format cricket He is far, far more suited to that than test cricket.

  • popcorn on December 29, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    Have the Selectors been fair to Shane watson? One day the Most Valuable Player, the next day his place in the side is on the line.He filled in for the horrible performance of Phil Hughes as an Opener in the Ashes 2009,and has fared very well in that postion. HE ALSO BOWLED WHILE IN THAT POSITION. Now the Selectors seem to want Warner and Cowan as the egular openers so they shuffle Sahane watson, first at No.3,then at No.4. In the Boxing Day Test, he scored 83.That's good.So why can't they just leave him at that position? Now I prdeict they will shuffle him to No.6 because Mike Hussey has called it a day.Hopefullythat will be the LAST OF THE SHUFFLES,and Usman Khawaja - another victim of shabby shuffling treatment,will be PERMANENTLY placed at No.4.