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Watson's reinvention riddle for selectors

Daniel Brettig

January 7, 2013

Comments: 117 | Text size: A | A

Shane Watson reacts after Mahela Jayawardene's dismissal, Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart, 2nd day, December 15, 2012
Shane Watson has indicated that bowling won't be part of his package in the immediate future © Getty Images
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Shane Watson's ability to reinvent himself as a non-bowling top-order Test batsman may be tested by a return through the Sheffield Shield rather than the January ODIs.

The calf problem that ultimately dissuaded Watson from stretching himself at the bowling crease is likely to keep him out of action until the start of the limited overs-matches against West Indies in late January. This will leave John Inverarity's selection panel to decide whether to return him via that series or in a pair of Shield fixtures that will provide better indicators of the former allrounder's durability over four days ahead of the India Test tour.

The first group of players to India are expected to depart around February 9, while the final two ODIs against Darren Sammy's team are scheduled for February 8 in Sydney and February 10 in Melbourne. New South Wales' Shield games during the period will take place against Western Australia from January 24-27 and Tasmania from February 6-9.

Australia's coach Mickey Arthur said Watson was yet to formally indicate his desire to return as an opening batsman, but there can be little doubt about the vice-captain's preference given his best Test displays took place as an opener and occasionally-used bowler under Ricky Ponting, and his recent decision to give up bowling for the foreseeable future.

"I don't think Watto would mind me saying this, right at the moment Watto wants to come back as a batsman," Arthur said. "He feels every time he bats and then he gets injured bowling, he just loses a bit of momentum with his batting, which is probably fair to say. He wants to come back and bat, definitely. Once he feels his body is going well and that he feels he's cemented his batting position, we will then take another look at how we want to go with Shane in terms of bowling.

"And that's a decision only Watto can make. We'll be working very closely with him on that, because obviously Shane bowling a couple of overs is really good for us. And Shane Watson absolutely loves bowling. He still wants to bowl, but his primary focus right now is to make the team as an out-and-out batsman."

Arthur, Michael Clarke and the rest of the team hierarchy are satisfied with the present Test opening combination of David Warner and Ed Cowan, a partnership of contrasts that has reaped sturdy results even if Cowan has shown a tendency to get out after doing much of the hard work - something backed up by a mediocre average of 32.81 from 13 Tests. They also value Cowan's maturity, team ethic and leadership potential.

However Watson is expected to make a concerted push for his return to the role, hoping to open with Warner as he presently does, when fit, for Australia in ODIs and Twenty20 matches. "I guess if he's not bowling it's worth the consideration," Arthur said. "It will certainly be worth the chat. But we haven't had any discussions around that just yet.

"I still maintain that I felt No.4 was a really good fit for Shane Watson. But that was Shane Watson bowling some overs as well. We're lucky in that I think Watto can bat anywhere from Nos.1-6 in our order and has had some success there. He'll still be opening in one-day cricket. And who knows, maybe he does, maybe he doesn't but again it's probably too early to even discuss it."

Hard evidence for Watson's return to the opening position may be found in his overall record, for he has averaged better than 43 and made his only two Test centuries while walking out to face the new ball. Watson's powerful if mechanical strokeplay also appears best suited to a hard ball and a tightly packed field.

Nevertheless, his most recent returns under the captaincy of Clarke have indicated that if anything Watson has been of greater value as a thoughtful medium-pace bowler than an inconsistent batsman unable to reach three figures. In 11 Tests since Clarke took over as captain, Watson has made 528 runs at 26.40 with a top score of 88. He has also taken 19 wickets at 27. In five matches as an opener within that time Watson's returns dipped further, to 182 runs at 20.22.

These returns can be mitigated somewhat by the fact that under Clarke his level of bowling increased, occasionally leaving him bowling out the tail then walking immediately to the batting crease. But should Watson return to the top of the batting order it will be more out of the selectors' hope for more runs in his preferred position than expectation based on recent showings.

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 10, 2013, 5:46 GMT)

Wefnishthis - Well Boyce has to be in front of Zampa but I dont think I would take him either. I dont believe in taking players along for the experience I would look to the players performing this year like Doolan, Fergusson and maybe Mcdonald. But young players Travis Head has played more shield games and done better than Patterson (and he is still under 19), However anyone has done more than Patterson. So Nevill as the spare wicket keeper, strangely NSW have been keeping with Haddin over Nevill - you would have thought you would take Haddin as a spare keeper. However Paine and Hartley at the moment would both be in front of Neville I would have thought. Witht he lack of shield cricket recently the young players are better off finishing the sheffield season than following the Australian team around India.

Posted by Wefinishthis on (January 10, 2013, 1:20 GMT)

Shaggy076 - Feel free to name a youngster from any other state that has to date either performed better or shown more justifiable potential in FC cricket than Patterson or Zampa. Boyce? Holland? Please educate us all who should go along for the experience instead, it would help your case a lot. I wouldn't want to take Nevill because he's a younger player, but because he's the next best keeper-batsman option other than Wade and he's a better batsman than Cowan and Watson as well. The other options Triffit, Paine and Hartley are ordinary batsman, roughly about Cowan's level. Their relative keeping ability is debatable.

Posted by potofazherbaizan on (January 9, 2013, 17:56 GMT)

Watson should think of test as ODI. With the defensive field, he can get things going nicely and can become the aggressive powerhouse as his potentials portray him. Imagine Warner and Watson, and a run rate over 6. They can take the entire match away in 1 session. He bowls very well to middle-order and should stick to that, giving him enough time to recuperate for the batting. I thing @Meety's featured comment; the team is spot on except I don't think Harris should play. Instead of him, get Starc/Pattinson/Bird and rotate the bowlers in India to avoid injuries and get them healthy for the Ashes. P.S. Australia whitewash India= Australia 2nd on ranking and within grasp of no. 1!

Posted by hycIass on (January 9, 2013, 10:50 GMT)

After a bit more thinking this is the team: 1. Watson; 2. Hughes; 3. Khawaja; 4. Burns; 5. Clarke; 6. Warner; 7. Wade; 8. Cutting; 9. Siddle; 10. Lyon; 11. Bird.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 9, 2013, 8:14 GMT)

Wefinishthis - The assumption you were a New SOuth Welshman is because you only know young NSW players ie I think Nevill, Patterson and Zampa are ridiculous selections. By the way Neville is 27 years of age.

Posted by Wefinishthis on (January 9, 2013, 7:34 GMT)

Shaggy076 - Firstly, Nevill has a career FC average over 43 and secondly, there haven't been all that many FC games in recent months so it's difficult to pick players on recent performances. You can't judge a batsman solely on their most recent performance, it has to be over several different conditions against different opposition. I mentioned bringing along Burns (career average over 42), Harris and Pattinson who aren't from NSW and not bringing along Starc (NSW) so I don't see how you came to a NSW bias conclusion. I was saying bring along the best young players for the overseas experience, it's unlikely they'd actually get a game. I don't care if the entire Aus team is Tasmanian, providing they're the best XI in the country, it just happens to be that NSW traditionally produces more quality players than the other states, which is a commonly known obeservation amongst experienced followers of cricket.

Posted by Meety on (January 9, 2013, 5:19 GMT)

@Shaggy076 on (January 09 2013, 05:01 AM GMT) - I got a good chuckle out of that one!

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 9, 2013, 5:01 GMT)

HyClass - Surely you cannot consider Finch with a shield average of 13 this season for test cricket. he is an exceptional one-day cricketer but along way of the test side.

Posted by popcorn on (January 9, 2013, 0:53 GMT)

I MAINTAIN that we should NOT TINKER with the Batting Lineup. Ed Cowan and David Warner as Openers,Phil Hughes as No.3, WATSON at NUMBER 4,Michael Clarke is at his best at Number 5, USMAN KHAWAJA is SOLID at Number 6, Mathew Wade at Number 7. Watson CAN taken on Medium pace Bowling Duties -like Jacque Kallis, at Number 4.

Posted by mondotv on (January 9, 2013, 0:36 GMT)

Here's my take - Warner, Watson, Hughes, Clarke, Kawaja, Wade, Johnson, Dougherty, Starc, Siddle, Lyon, Pattinson (12th) Bird to replace Dougherty or Lyon in England. Starc and Bird will be dynamite in England. Bird seems set with his concentration, line and length while Starc seems like more of a raw talent who will need the hard slog of India to mature as a Test player. Pattinson and Siddle are both really good bowlers but too similar to play both in the one team. Cummings won't be back for 4 - 6 weeks and who knows how that will go? Johnson could yet make an all rounder, albeit a bowlng allrounder. I think the more promising spin talent for India- England is Dougherty. He'll complement Lyon nicely. Not so convinced with Kawaja - good bat but an average field, a sloppy runner but there is no other batsman in Australia sticking up his hand at the moment. Aus badly needs another quality batsman for this team or I fear Anderson and Swan will find them out.

Posted by Meety on (January 9, 2013, 0:24 GMT)

@ potofazherbaizan on (January 08 2013, 19:53 PM GMT) - if I was the NSP (we'd be in trouble) - I would not select Patto for India for a couple of reasons 1) I'd want him to be rested for England (no new injuries), 2) He is a bit bulkier than some of the other bowlers & I think that he will struggle in India. I'd have Patto 2nd bowler picked behind Siddle for the Ashes.

Posted by hycIass on (January 9, 2013, 0:04 GMT)

@gilly4ever good side, agree with what you have put there. Lewis went to the T20 game last night and Gayle was awesome and Khawaja was hitting them effortlessly, he needs to use the good form to his advantage as he is in a purple patch. My team for India is 1.Warner 2 Watson 3.Hughes4.Clarke 5.Khawaja 6.Finch7.Wade 8.Johnson 9.Siddle 10.Lyon 11.Bird (bench -Starc, Haddin, Cowan,Pattison,) Indian Tour 2013. This gives Finch and Khawaja some exposure before England. Watson can be explosive from opener. Clarke to support batsmen either side of him. Lets face it Indian will not be the real test,that will come in July against a strong English side, doubt you'd want to blood anyone over there...Any way just a thought.

Posted by ozziespirit on (January 8, 2013, 23:22 GMT)

Watto has done a great job in the past, but to have him do nothing other than bat at six, which is where he should bat, and not bowl does not justify his place in the team. Australia need a real all rounder.

Posted by Chris_P on (January 8, 2013, 20:49 GMT)

@SirViv1973. Can't argue with that logic. That is the biggest leap the Aussie batsmen will have to overcome. They did extremely well last year in Sri Lanka but Hussey was the lunch pin of the batting. Clarke aside, no one stands out ready to take on the spinners, of course someone will, but there is no one standing out presently. But still, test matches is what it is all about.

Posted by potofazherbaizan on (January 8, 2013, 19:53 GMT)

why do people rate bird over pattinson. Pattinson after 2 tests had 14 wickets at an average of 14. Bird is very good at 11 wicket with average 16, but with Pattinson, he averages 38 with the bat as well. He can stay in and get some runs if a top order batsmen is there and you generally rely on him to get to 30's. Team for India 1. Watson (bowl him in desperate times) 2. Warner (he can bowl too) 3. Hughes 4. Clarke (can bowl) 5. Khawaja 6. O'Keeffe (spinner needed) 7. Wade 8. Johnson( decent batsman) 9. Pattinson (decent batsman) 10. Siddle 11. Lyon For England I would drop O'Keeffe and go with Starc/Bird.

Posted by SirViv1973 on (January 8, 2013, 19:44 GMT)

@Chris_P Cowan's problem is that he hasn't played enough games against spinners, so is limited in experience playing quality spin.

I don't think this is something that is exclusive to Cowan in this Aus team. The same can be leveled at Warner like Cowan the only time in his test/FC career he would have seen a half decent spinner on a turning track would have been Shillingford in Dominica last yr. Of all the batsman likely to make the trip only Watson (who many don't think should be picked as a batsman) & Clarke have played tests in Ind b4. PH & UK would have seen a bit of Herath in SRL but apart from PH 100 in Colombo they didn't fair that well. the other likely members of the batting unit Maxwell & Wade, like the openers haven't play any tests on the sub continent before.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 8, 2013, 12:31 GMT)

SK5983 - What is it about Mitch Marsh 25 batting average and Shaun Marsh less than 20 this year makes you think they should go to India. They must pick players performing this year like Fergusson, Doolan before these two.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 8, 2013, 12:28 GMT)

Wefinishthis - Let me guess your a New South Welshman how else could you explain taking Nevill average under 40, Patterson no shield games this year and Zampa one shield game. Least you put in a Qld with a batting average of 30 this year. How do you explain these selections to those that are actually performing.

Posted by Chris_P on (January 8, 2013, 11:38 GMT)

@Meety. Not sure why SOK isn't in the mix, he is a front line spinner, a high quality lower order batsman (not a batting all rounder) so not sure why he isn't considered. In the games vs. WA I have seen at the SCG he has easily outbowled Beer so have got no idea. Cowan's problem is that he hasn't played enough games against spinners, so is limited in experience playing quality spin.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (January 8, 2013, 11:02 GMT)

Watched Khawaja in the T20 game against Stars and he looked in very good form. Also took close note of Maxwell bowling and he doesn't spin the bowl much, he is good at containing batsman in T20 but that line won't work in test cricket. Interesting to see Quiney keep wicket and a ball got stuck in his helmet while keeping up the stumps, it was hilarious.

Posted by Meety on (January 8, 2013, 8:29 GMT)

@Glen Glmar Low - re SO'K - it's not an easy question to answer. He has done well for NSW (statistically) in all 3 formats of the game for a fairly long time. His FC bowling ave is better than Lyon's. During the last Ashes, SO'K played against Eng A in Hobart & had a good allround game - the Pommy side had their Test batting line up. Out of nowhere Beer got picked ahead of him, in one tour match SO'K took about as many wickets that fell to spin in 5 tests! The problem with SO'K - is that his total deliveries per match is fairly low which suggests he may be more of an allrounder than a specialist spinner. Regardless he is the leading Shield wicket taker (amongst spinners) this summer & as a left arm offie (IMO), offers good variation to Lyon!

Posted by SirViv1973 on (January 8, 2013, 7:48 GMT)

@Land47, I think you make a very good point regarding Aus LH batsman. There were a lot of Ind fans calling for the inclusion of a leggy during the series with Eng and eventually Chawla got a game but wasn't overly impressive. I wonder if Mishra might come in to their thoughts for Aus. I know his overall record isn't great but he did a fair bit of damage against Aus in 08. Ind clearly rate Ashwin highly but i'm not sure bowling is even his strongest suit. Jadeja bowled more than him in the 4th test and you wonder if Ind would be brave enough to move Dhoni up to 6 & play Ashwin at 7 & just use him as the 3rd spinner. It will be an interesting series as the Aus batting looks at its weakest since the mid 80s and Ind spin options particularly right armers are as sparse as I can ever remember.

Posted by SirViv1973 on (January 8, 2013, 7:33 GMT)

A lot of people putting Pattinson in their team for Ind, I thought he was unavailable due to injury or am I wrong?

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 7:18 GMT)

Guys I haven't really been following the BBL or Sheffield, is o'Keefe good? I only know he plays T20's so I was stunned by the amount of people saying he would be in their test teams if they got to choose.

Posted by Meety on (January 8, 2013, 6:36 GMT)

@Hippiantor on (January 08 2013, 00:47 AM GMT) - fair enuff, plenty would agree. IMO - Oz have enuff pace bowling depth that they can afford to rest patto for the Ashes. (That's my master plan). I think Patto will do very well in England & we have other bowlers who can do the job in India. @ landl47 on (January 07 2013, 22:42 PM GMT) - wakey, wakey! I never compared Cowan to Cook. I suggested that IF Cowan is to play in India - a place where I don't think he is naturally suited to, he should get a copy of Cook's recent tour of India. I said that just a few months ago, nobody would of said Coook was a great player of spin, now I dare anybody to say he isn't. Apart from Cowan being a left handed opener, there is no comparison. Does not mean Cowan cannot learn from a great example??????? @Chris_P on (January 07 2013, 20:41 PM GMT) - btw, on Watto, I would be banking on him bowling 4 overs a day. If he can't do that, then he isn't fit enough to bat out a session!

Posted by Batmanian on (January 8, 2013, 6:25 GMT)

@OMFG, not a bad looking team. Warne and McGrath in their prime, plus any single bat from that top 7 (with the possible exception of Langer) could have taken a NZ VIII to the top of the test rankings.

Posted by mican on (January 8, 2013, 6:12 GMT)

A case can be made for Watson to fit in any position in the top 6. What actually needs to happen is that he is selected for a defined role and told to stick with it. If he wants to be a batsman only then have him as opener. After all his ave is still better than Cowan's. If his bowling remains an option then have him take Hussey's spot at six and bring Usman at four. Watson at six can still exploit his opening skills as that spot often has to face the 2nd new ball.

Posted by Wefinishthis on (January 8, 2013, 5:43 GMT)

James-Murphy - VERY good team there for India. Well-justified selections for the first test, though I'd shuffle the 4-7 lineup to 4.Khawaja, 5.Clarke, 6.Maxwell, 7.Wade (bats well with the tail and needs time to be able to work on his glovework). In the squad I'd have Nevill, Harris and Pattinson and bring the young Patterson, Zampa and Burns along for the experience as well. Johnson averages over 40 in India and Starc has not yet been convincing with the new ball so I'll pass on them until the ashes. If Watson fails, I'd either put him at 6 or drop him for Burns. Spot on about playing Bird, O'Keefe and Lyon. I'd probably prefer Harris over Siddle, but I'm excited about Bird though. He has to be our first pick at the moment. I hope he goes to England, regardless of his performance in India.

Posted by Chris_P on (January 8, 2013, 5:16 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge Five year dominance over Australia? Really, and here I thought we won the series 5-0 five years ago. I though it was the 2009 series, but hey you have obviously been schooled at the best of British public system can offer. Keep up the comic relief.

Posted by fazald on (January 8, 2013, 5:03 GMT)

I think Shane Watson should take up some other sport like Ten Pin Bowling because his body cannot seem to stand the strain of arduous sports like cricket where lots of running, bowling and hours of batting is necessary. The moment he gets out onto the field to play he gets injured in no time. As a result he is mostly off the field than in the field representing his country. This is about the twentieth time that he has been out of action nursing an injury since his debut about ten years ago. He is a very talented cricketer and a very entertaining batsman to watch when he gets going but hasn't lived upto his potential so far. If Watson doesn't get over his injury problems sooner than later the selectors might give up on him eventually.

Posted by fazald on (January 8, 2013, 4:17 GMT)

If Nathan Lyon is going to be our main spin bowler in England then we can kiss goodbye to the ashes. The selectors lost a very good opportunity to bud in another spinner despite the mediocre bowling performance by Lyon both against South Africa and Sri Lanka this summer. His failure to bowl out South Africa in the second innings and win the match for Australia in the Adelaide test says it all. If Steve Okeefe was selected two years ago by now I reckon he would be a leading spin bowler in world cricket and still has the potential. But for some mysterious reason he is been totally ignored by the selectors. There are other bowlers like Zampa and O'Brien who should also be considered for selection. If Warner can improve on his legspin bowling it will really come in handy in India as well as in England.

Posted by Buckers410 on (January 8, 2013, 4:00 GMT)

Team for India should be; 1.Watson 2.Warner 3.Hughes 4.Khawaja 5.Clarke (c) 6.Smith/Maxwell 7.Wade (wk) 8.O'Keefe 9.Siddle 10.Lyon 11.Bird. If you have extra bowlers in Smith/Maxwell you can do well in India. Khawaja to work on his mediums. lol

Posted by MrWaka28 on (January 8, 2013, 3:29 GMT)

Don't know whether anybody else has suggested this yet: Hughes, Cowan, Khawaja, Clark, Watson, Warner, Wade, Lyon, Siddle, Starc, Pattinson This however will not quite work in India/SC so you will need to substitute a pace bowler for Holland.

Posted by whofriggincares on (January 8, 2013, 3:12 GMT)

@front foot lunge the 5-0 whitewash in 07 actually meant we held the ashes until 09 so this 5 years of dominance that you speak about is laughable. I guess when your team never dominates anything for very long you have to reject reality and insert your own fantasy. Imagine if the aussies had only won one game at the MCG since 1934 like the poms at lords. I think the nation would take a vote and withdraw from all forms of cricket in shame.

Posted by Batmanian on (January 8, 2013, 2:06 GMT)

@James_Murphy, I think the whole point we've seen recently is there is no such thing as an Australian XI (or XII) anymore - 18 men could play these Ashes. The five or six best fit quicks are effectively in the team now, as is a batsman or two - Khawaja, Watson or Haddin if desperate - who has to prepare mentally to be slotted in where required, as Mike Hussey was able to do. Johnson is not budging for anything more than a rest, and Maxwell and O'Keefe together, especially in India where good spin rules and flaky spin is a liability - you're dreaming. I don't think Cowan is quite cut yet... he's been serviceable if unspectacular (and is probably fancied for English conditions), whereas the obviously more talented Watson has been less serviceable recently. Watson definitely needs some long form cricket and lots of net time to prove he's more valuable than Cowan. But the opening slot is definitely the only one Watson could possibly command without offering twenty overs of bowling.

Posted by svengali47 on (January 8, 2013, 1:30 GMT)

Watson, Warner, Hughes, Maxwell, Clarke, Wade, Cutting, Johnson, O'Keefe, Siddle, Bird/Starc .... I would bowl Warner more, but you have 4 different spinners, and 4 different pacemen. I would rotate the 4 quicks over the 4 tests due to the heat and close dates between tests. This makes for a good all-round team.

Posted by AnImpatientFan on (January 8, 2013, 1:22 GMT)

Why do people seem to have something against Ed Cowan? He might not make big scores every game like Warner but he consistently survives and takes the shine off the new ball leaving people like Hussey and Clarke to pile on the hundreds. Warner and Cowan were statistically the most sucessful opening partnership of 2012, moreso than even Smith/Peterson and Sehwag/Gambhir. Give Ed some time and I bet he won't finish with a superb average but I would put my money on him being remembered as a grinding and success breeding opener, an opener better than Watson.

Posted by OMFG on (January 8, 2013, 0:55 GMT)

Australia Team:

1. Matthew Hayden 2. Justin Langer 3. Ricky Ponting 4. Michael Clarke 5. Michael Hussey 6. Andrew Symonds 7. Adam Gilchrist 8. Brett Lee 9. Shane Warne 10. Glenn McGrath 11. Stuart Clark

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (January 8, 2013, 0:54 GMT)

@Ross_Hambling i take your point but my biggest concern out of all of this is Inverarity and Arthur's insistence that an all-rounder is a 100% necessity and that Australia must have one. That is simply not true. Warner can bowl 4-5 overs an innings, so can Clarke, so can Khawaja (as shown in the Chairman's XI match) - that is sufficient to give a frontline bowler a rest during an innings. Moreover with the absurd rotation policy there is no problem with "over-bowling" as you simply rotate the guy out next match.Arthur is obviously desperate for an Australian Kallis (no.4 is the best spot for Watson which didn't work).If Watson is one of the best six bats in the country, then pick him. He isn't, so don't. If he is to open then have him and Warner open, Hughes at 3, Khawaja at 4 and Clarke at 5 and if Cowan is to get another chance then move Cowan at 4 and Khawaja at 6 as Khawaja can bat anywhere in the order similar to what Hussey used to do.

Posted by Hippiantor on (January 8, 2013, 0:47 GMT)

@Meety, like your team, but surely Pattinson should at least be on tour?? i don't think Indian conditions really suit him, but he has been our best strike bowler in most Tests he has played barring when he was injured. I would have him in the 11 at ahead of Johnson, Bird and Starc.

Posted by danielb999 on (January 7, 2013, 23:55 GMT)

Like most people I feel that Watson should be used as an opener as that is where he feels comforatable and he is successful in that position. With the tour for India my test squad is- 1. D.Warner 2. S.Watson 3. P.Hughes 4. M.Clarke 5. U.Khawaja 6. M.Wade 7. G.Maxwell 8. P.Siddle 9. J.Pattinson 10. N.Lyon 11. J.Bird. The reserve players I would have in the squad is E.Cowan, G.Bailey, S.O'Keefe, M.Starc and M.Johnson. I would have 3 specialist fast bowlers in the team as fast bowling is Australia's strength and we may aswell use. But with S.O'Keefe we also have the option of playing to specialist spinners. Having extra fast bowling depth will help as we would rotate the fast bowlers during the series to prevent injuries before the Ashes. E.Cowan would replace anyone in the top order if they were injured and G. Bailey would replace anyone in the middle-lower order if needed.

Posted by Behind_the_bowlers_arm on (January 7, 2013, 23:31 GMT)

Watson is certainly an enigma. At his best his batting is destructive and his bowling deceptive and very useful in his 5th bowler role. Unfortunately his lack of fitness (noone seems to want to comment on how large he looks) and constant breakdowns means he is a disruptive influence on the team development. He appears to lack the ability to bat long periods (that fatness again) to sustain long innings which are needed for a Test batsman. Im on the verge of giving up on him completely unless he can prove he can bat for six hours and bowl once in a while (ie 10 to 12 overs an innings tops). The selectors would love an allrounder to add balance but i dont think it is ever going to be him on a sustained basis after all these years of false starts. Without him the balance of the team over the next two series is going to be the biggest dilemma.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (January 7, 2013, 23:31 GMT)

After watching the majority of the test, my feelings on the issues people have raised are as follows. For the batting Watson should come in for Cowan. Warner has done some great things, and if he can control that rush of blood he often gets, will do some even greater things. Clarke has come off a record-breaking year, and hopefully he can continue to impress as captain and batsman. I think his captaincy has had some interesting moments, but overall it's been an improvement on Ponting's. For me, I'd definitly get Khawaja e in for Hussey probably at 4. and have Hopes in at 6 as his bowling will be good for the seaming conditions in the ashes. Plus there's a bunch of players who are kinda sorta pressing for selection…

But from all of that, putting together a team should be possible. Depending on the pitch, etc, you could have something looking like this:

Watson Warner Hughes Khawaja Clarke Hopes Wade Siddle Pattinson Bird Lyon (Starc/Johnson

Posted by Moppa on (January 7, 2013, 23:11 GMT)

PS: agree with @inefekt that Watson's first-class record compares favourably with Khawaja, Ferguson, Burns, Cosgrove etc, behind D.Hussey of course. This plus his success in ODIs tells me that he *could* make it as a Test batsman only. However, I feel we simply have to try to get his body right to get the most out of him, i.e. by bowling too. If Siddle can lose 5kg, surely Watto can lose 8kg, which would surely improve his durability. Personally, I would tell Watto that he's not playing any ODIs in Australia and that he has to get super-fit for India and the Ashes. Send him up to Hayden's dad's farm and teach him to sweep too...

Posted by Moppa on (January 7, 2013, 23:06 GMT)

@Milhouse79 is right - the Samit Patel experience proves that Glenn Maxwell should be in Dandenong, not Dehli, in late February. @PFEL, nice sledge of England, but in reality Panesar is miles better than Beer/Holland/O'Keefe, and Cook is a better player of spin than Warner, Cowan and Hughes (combined), so there's your answer. I agree with @landl47, the second spinner position is a puzzle for India. Maxwell and Smith are NOT real options. Holland is injured. This basically leaves Beer and O'Keefe. Both are accurate and honest, but not much more. O'Keefe's batting gives an extra option, but he seems out of favour. I don't think Henriques (yet), Christian (ever) or M.Marsh (batting average 21!) are realistic all-round options to make space for a spinner, so its Watson or bust. The only other option is to cobble overs together with D.Hussey, Clarke (if fit to bowl) and Warner. Since Huss' retirement, I've gone from quietly confident to quite pessimistic for both India and the Ashes :-(

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (January 7, 2013, 23:04 GMT)

For India: Watson, Warner, Bailey, Clarke, Khawaja, Wade, Johnson, Harris (if fit), Pattinson (if fit), Starc, Lyon. Others to consider: Bird, McDermott, Cummins (if fit), Siddle. For Ashes: Watson, Warner, Bailey, Clarke, Khawaja, Wade, Johnson, Harris, Pattinson, Siddle, Hilfenhaus. Others to consider: as above. I can't see Cowan surviving in either test tour, nor Phillip Hughes, while Watson is a gun who will thrive anywhere. If you want another batsman beyond those, David Hussey is still going strong so could be considered. Maxwell and O'Keefe are still batting well enough and provide spin options too. And then there is Steve Smith. But 5 bowlers with Johnson the number 7 seems like a good mix to me.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 22:59 GMT)

I don't get any of this. With Hussey retiring there is now a perfect opportunity to bat Watson down the order. I would almost have him at 7 behind Wade - he is a better bowler and batsman than Maxwell, and he has had success with both in India. Give him some time to actually get fit instead of rushing him back into the side, then play him as a proper allrounder.

People are so quick to shove Cowan aside. He needs to reward himself with bigger scores but from a team perspective he does an opener's primary function more often than not - he gets through the new ball and protects the middle order. Warner is great to watch but he needs to be accompanied by a gritty partner who puts value on his wicket.

Playing two frontline spinners against India would be a mistake because we just don't have two experienced test quality spinners the way England do, as much as it pains me to say it. Lyon shouldered the load fine in Sri Lanka and he was only a debutant then.

Posted by MinusZero on (January 7, 2013, 22:44 GMT)

Why are the selectors pondering whether he should return via ODIs or Shield? Are they kidding? Obviously he has to return via shield. Watson can barely make it an hour without some sort of niggle. Anyway, ODI runs prove nothing compared to a five day test (or four day shield game). All injured test players should only return after playing shield games to see if they are physically ready to return

Posted by dunger.bob on (January 7, 2013, 22:43 GMT)

I can understand why they would like Watto to prove his form in 1st class cricket rather than ODI's. If he can't bowl anymore, then he is suddenly a whole different ball of string... if he's a batsman only then he has to get runs, simple as that. .. up until now they could justify ignoring his indifferent batting form because he could always make it up with his bowling. Take away the bowling and it puts the batting firmly under the spotlight. .. ODI's tell you very little about Test batting, so I think this is a sensible move. ... I was disappointed when they made Maxwell 12th man in Sydney. .. I really wanted to have a look at him in a Test on a pitch that that takes a bit of spin. .. I know that most posters here reckon that Agent 86 is not a Test worthy spinner but I contend that we can't know that for certain until he has an opportunity to prove it. .. its seems so simple to me. We've lost a bowling batsman, for the sake of team balance we need to replace on a like to like basis

Posted by landl47 on (January 7, 2013, 22:42 GMT)

@Meety: with the greatest respect to Cowan, who I think has done as well as a career journeyman could be expected to do, to compare him with Cook is like comparing a candle with a floodlight. Cowan is 2 1/2 years older than Cook, has an average of 32, 1 test century and has never played in India. Cook, BEFORE the England tour, had an average of 48, 20 test centuries and had made a century and three fifties in 7 completed test innings in his two previous tours of India. The idea that Cook couldn't play spin is simply untrue. Cowan might learn something from watching a video of Cook, but I'm not sure he has the ability to raise his game to anything like Cook's level.

The only area where Aus has an advantage over Eng is that Aus will probably have 5 left-handers in the top 7. Ojha was India's best bowler against England and he's SLA, and therefore won't likely be as effective against Aus. Otherwise, Eng's batting looks better than that of Aus to me, even with Hussey. Without him....

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 7, 2013, 22:10 GMT)

FFL - The one time Anderson got Hughes out must have been memorable and I know why you remember the Clarke dismissals as you were glad to see the back of him I believe he was the leading run scorer from both sides in the last English ashes series.

Posted by OzWally on (January 7, 2013, 21:45 GMT)

If the question is Watson or Cowan. Give me Watson with Warner.

Posted by Meety on (January 7, 2013, 21:31 GMT)

@Jono Makim - I'd love to pick Henriques, but he needs to finish the season strong before I'd pick him. I rate him way ahead of Christian in FC cricket. re: Copeland, agree to disagree - I think there is a quality Test bowler in Copeland, hard to argue with what you said about Bird though!!!! @ landl47 on (January 07 2013, 14:42 PM GMT) - I agree with several things you said 1) The Indian tour will have ZERO relationship with the Ashes, (although the NSP may make decisions based on this - which they shouldn't), 2. England's spin stocks meant that they were better suited to play in India (attack-wise). Had Huss not retired, I would of felt that Oz's batting in Indian conditions was well superior to England's - as of now, I think batting-wise we are reasonably placed. I think should someone like Cowan play in India, he needs to get video of what Cook did - I don't think anyone would of said Cook was a great player of spin, they DO NOW!

Posted by Jaffa79 on (January 7, 2013, 21:11 GMT)

The Aussies must learn an important lesson from the Engand tour and not pick a bits and pieces spinner. Maxwell is a long way from being a Test spinner and he would get smashed, just like Samit Patel did. Lyon isn't much better and he is nowhere near either Swann or Patel but the Aussies should play him and perhaps O'Keefe.

Posted by Jasper173 on (January 7, 2013, 21:03 GMT)

You can see the difference in how Cowan and warner versus Hughes and warner have gelled as a partnership with highes at 3. Cowan puts way to much pressure on the others by his inability to score runs at one end. I think he has played 12 or so tests and is mediocre. Batsmen of the past who couldn't get in the team, such as Siddons, Law, Lehman for a large part of his career, must find it frustrating that Ed is getting an extended run because of the choice available. Watson back with Warner will be better balanced. I'm liking Phil Hughes at 3.

Posted by Chris_P on (January 7, 2013, 20:41 GMT)

@Jono Makim . Understand your point re: Copeland, but due to his lack of pace our wickets don't suit him (SCG Adelaide apart). It's why he will do better in the sub continent & England where pae isn't a factor. Down here, he isn't in the top 10, but as he showed in Sri Lanka, he was our best pace bowler there, ahead of Siddle, MJ & Hilf. I watch him on the dry tracks of the SCG & he nearly always outbowls the other quicks. @Meety, probably right about Cowan in India, but let's not forget, fc, Watson averages less than 30 for the past 2 and bit years. Good enough to be picked only as a batsman? @landl47, If Smith scores run in the latter part of the shield, he is a chance. Definitely improved his technique, a stint in county would round out his learning. Doolan is putting his hand up, he has to perform when the shield kicks off again.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (January 7, 2013, 20:19 GMT)

The English bowlers will be queuing up to bowl at this Australian batting line up, which is full of so many Anderson Bunnies. Who can forget Clarke endlessly getting outed by Anderson, or Hughes also? How about Watson constantly nicking that delicious red cherry to slip? Such things make Australian nightmares. And what awaits this year is just another episode in this five year long saga of English dominance over Australia.

Posted by SirViv1973 on (January 7, 2013, 20:15 GMT)

I still don't think CA selectors have a definitive idea of the team that will play Ind. I would strongly advise that they play their best 6 batsman, the best keeper, the 2 best spinners & 2 best seamers (though they may need to be rotated). My hunch is that following his ton against SRL pop guns, Wade will bat at 6 and Maxwell will come in to the side at 7 and play as the 2nd spinner which will allow them to play 3 seamers. I know Aus strength at the moment is the seam attack but you simply won't win a series in Ind relying on your fast men to take the majority of the wickets. As good as Aus seamers are I don't think any of them will do better than Anderson and he still only took 12 wickets in the series. A lot of calls for O'Keefe & he would fit the bill as a 2nd spinner more so than Maxwell, but I doubt he will make the squad as I suspect the selectors don't trust him to bat 7 & they probably think Beer is a better bowler.

Posted by SirViv1973 on (January 7, 2013, 19:57 GMT)

Well plenty of Oz fans here who don't think Watson is work a place in the team. If this was any other Aus team in the last 20 yrs I would totally agree but come on guys you just don't have any other real options at the moment. Hussey has just retired which leaves Clarke as the only experienced test batsman in the whole top 7. His record isn't great but I just don't think you have any other options. Of the other possible/likley selected batters only Clarke has played test cricket in Ind before & Hughes is the only other 1 who has played in the sub continent. If Watson is prepared to be picked as a specialist batsman then I think he should be given a run in the side.If he ends up scoring more 100s, improving his ave & staying fit he will be more of an asset to Aus then continuing to ave in the mid 30s, taking a few wickets from time to time and then constantly breaking down and unsettling the batting order.

Posted by RandyOZ on (January 7, 2013, 19:02 GMT)

Cowan has to go for sure, and like others I would probably take Doolan or Fergusen. I don''t think I have seen a lower quality test batsman in Cowan since ian Bell debuted.

Posted by Marko12 on (January 7, 2013, 17:39 GMT)

If Smith is in the side I'll go beserk. You're right. They're more worried about sorting England out but I still think they'll beat India.

Posted by jack_thomas25 on (January 7, 2013, 17:11 GMT)

i can sense fishy when coach said "We're lucky in that I think Watto can bat anywhere from Nos.1-6 in our order and has had some success there. He'll still be opening in one-day cricket. And who knows, maybe he does, maybe he doesn't but again it's probably too early to even discuss it." but i'm sure that inspite of many hurdles, watson will come back as opener at top soon.

Posted by jack_thomas25 on (January 7, 2013, 16:35 GMT)

i'm very very happy with this news. i love watson as an opener. as a destroyer. bats like a man.

Posted by Beertjie on (January 7, 2013, 16:33 GMT)

Many good suggestions but remember Delhi will be slow and low so what good would Pattinson + Johnson be there. They could be in the squad and play Mohali rotating with Bird + Harris (if fit)/Starc. I'm wary of MJ and prefer Starc anyway, although they need to ensure he plays and isn't rotated too often. Watto can easily be a partnership breaker and thus should be used very sparingly. This requires another batter who bowls in the top 7 also just in case someone breaks down. Too early for worthy contributions from Maxwell/Henriques,etc so take a punt this year on DHussey until they gain more experience and debut at home. That's the kind of savvy sadly lacking in our NSP. I like your team @landl47 on (January 07 2013, 15:12 PM GMT) because SO'K and Lyon will need a good wk and Paine is your man with no need for Wade to go. Just explain this to him and Cowan and you'd be able to take better back up (fat chance, though lol) like Haddin and Ferguson who could be vital on square turners.

Posted by landl47 on (January 7, 2013, 15:12 GMT)

This is the team I'd pick purely for India. It's not at all the same side I'd pick for the England tour. 1. Watson 2. Warner 3. Hughes 4 Khawaja 5. Clarke 6. Wade 7. Paine 8. O'Keefe 9. Siddle 10. Lyon 11. Bird.

To be successful in India, a side must have batsmen who can play spin (hence no Cowan), the best W/K standing up (Paine, IMO, is the best Aus has) and two spinners, one who turns the ball in and one who turns it away. The two seamers need to be the steadiest, most accurate bowlers, since they are going to have to bowl for long periods on unresponsive wickets. Wild bowlers get taken round the park in India. I'd have Copeland in the squad, too, he's ideal for the conditions. I don't think it's a great team for Indian conditions, but it's the group whose strengths best match what is needed.

It is, of course, absolutely nothing like the side the Aus selectors will choose!

Posted by inefekt on (January 7, 2013, 14:50 GMT)

I'm glad some of you guys aren't selectors, some really strange stuff popping up in these teams! I'd go with: Warner, Watson, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Ferguson/D Hussey/Cosgrove, Wade, Johnson/Starc, Siddle, Lyon, Bird

The number six position is the hardest to fill, really wish M Huss hadn't retired and played on til the back to back Ashes series! As it is, I think the only choices are Ferguson (avg 42 this season), Cosgrove (as mentioned in my other post, plenty of FC runs and a good average of 43) or Dave Hussey though he's only averaging 17 this season he may come good in the second half of the Shield comp. Johnson and Starc are interchangeable and shouldn't play together as they are too similar bowling wise. Siddle is automatic these days, Lyon is our best spinner but he needs work and Bird has shown he can fill a Clark type role, the find of the summer!

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 14:48 GMT)

@Chris_P & Meety. Disagree on Copeland, simply not penetrative enough. Bird bowls exactly the same stuff, just 10k's faster. He bowled well in SL but didn't take a lot of wickets.

Posted by landl47 on (January 7, 2013, 14:42 GMT)

I think the difficulty for Aus is that, with Huss gone and no real test class second spinner, the Aus team is much better equipped for playing in Australia or England than in India. The only two batsmen with much experience of tests in the subcontinent are Clarke and Watson; Clarke's fine, of course, but Watson's had one good tour sandwiched by two poor ones. Wade's batting should be all right, but his keeping standing up to Lyon in the SL series wasn't up to the standard he'll need in India. As for bowling, the seamers are OK, but who's the second spinner? Maxwell's another offie (and not a very good one), Beer and Doherty haven't yet looked test class, Holland's injured, Smith seems to be focussing on his batting and O'Keefe, for some reason, isn't rated by the selectors. I'd take O'Keefe personally, but don't be surprised if Smith is in the side.

This tour has to be taken as unique. How it goes will have no bearing on the Ashes, for which Aus looks much better suited.

Posted by Australian_flatTrack on (January 7, 2013, 14:38 GMT)

Watson should stick to batting if he keeps getting injured. He should drop to 6 and Australia should get a specialist number 4 in.

Posted by DylanBrah on (January 7, 2013, 14:23 GMT)

Team for India (if all are fit): 1. SR Watson 2. DA Warner 3. PJ Hughes 4. MJ Clarke 5. UT Khawaja 6. MS Wade 7. SNJ O'Keefe 8. MG Johnson 9. JL Pattinson 10. PM Siddle 11. NM Lyon 12th. JM Bird I feel as though Watson, as an opener, can do everything Cowan does, but better. He also adds that vital experience and leadership we will need with an inexperienced line-up in tough conditions. O'Keefe's selection is a must in my opinion; he and Lyon will form a good combination, and besides that, he is a better bowler than Maxwell. Can't wait!

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (January 7, 2013, 13:49 GMT)

1.Warner 2.Hughes 3.Finch 4.Clarke 5.Khawaja 6.Watson 7.Wade 8.Johnson 9.Siddle 10.Lyon 11.Bird (bench -Starc, Burns, Henriques,Pattison,) Indian Tour 2013. This gives Finch and Khawaja some exposure before England. Watson can be explosive from 6. Clarke to support batsmen either side of him. India at home will be tough but the real test willl come in July against a strong English side, doubt you'd want to blood anyone over there. Seeing Khawaja in the ODI is a positive side as both him and Warner will be key batsman for us in the ashes. For the bowling take Hauritz or Beer as the second spinner as Maxwell is simply not good enough as a spinner at test level.

Posted by QingdaoXI on (January 7, 2013, 13:37 GMT)

My Team Would be Hughes Warner, S.Marsh, Khawaja, Clarke, Fergusson/M.Marsh/Maxwell, Wade, Pattinson/Siddle, Starc, Bird, Lyon. Cowan is not a test material and Shaun Marsh deserves one more chance as before being flopped he was scoring runs for team.and number six position should be according to pitch condition as if pitch is flat include batsmen Ferguson, if it is fast include M.Marsh and if it is slow include Maxwell. Bird and Starc are good assests than Cummins and Pattinson and they need to be prefer in XI. Watto is always injured, so best is utilise him as allrounder in ODI and T-20. As for test he is injured after 2-3 tests like Harris and distrub the team composition. So it will be better to keep watto away form test squad. If S.Marsh fails after 2-3 series, than it will be time to bring Nic Maddinson. For India Squad Should be Clarke Cap, Warner, Hughes, S.Marsh, Khawaja, Fergusson, Maxwell, M.Marsh, Wade, Paine, Bird, Starc, Pattinson, Siddle, Johnson, Lyon, S'keffe, Beer.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 13:35 GMT)

Watson, is not a good enough batsmen, too play solely as one, his fielding is average at best, selectors should not be blinded by potential, especially when he is 32. That is why the Aussie selectors, played Wade at 6 in the batting order, at the SCG, it proves we have an all-round keeper, who averages far better with the bat, than our supposed bowling/batting, all-rounder. I think our best test team, does not include him, and the SCG` team is the way forward, but replace a fast bowler, with a left arm finger spinner, for India. I like Steve O`Keefe, he is accurate, has good control, and is a genuine wicket taker. Team for India, 1 Warner, 2 Cowan, 3 Hughes, 4 Clarke, 5 Khawaja, 6 Wade, 7 Johnson, 8 Siddle, 9 O`Keefe, 10 Lyon, 11 Bird. A balanced team, that has all options covered, Watson`s front foot lunge, is a definite out shot, 9 out of 10 times in India. I am welcome to other suggestions and criticisms, but i think honestly, `Watto`, is just not good enough, as a batsman, solely.

Posted by inefekt on (January 7, 2013, 13:05 GMT)

@Joel, have you even bothered looking at Watson's record and comparing it to other prospects? I seriously doubt you have otherwise you wouldn't make such an ill informed comment. Watson averages 44 at first class level with over 7000 runs and 17 hundreds to his name. The only other prospective batsmen in the country with a first class record better than that are Dave Hussey and Chris Rogers and they're both going on 36 years of age. Look at the rest - Bailey (5500 @ 39.9), Quiney (3100 @ 36), Marsh (4300 @ 35), Voges (7700 @ 41), White (7400 @ 40). This is the pick of the litter mate, it doesn't make for great reading. Cosgrove deserves consideration (8000 @ 43) but all you hear from the selectors is that he's carrying too much weight. Since when did that stop the likes of Boon or Warne! And he's still young at 28. There's also Haddin as a specialist but again he's the same age as D Huss and Rogers.

Posted by Someguy on (January 7, 2013, 12:42 GMT)

I don't think Watson is even close to being a top 6 batsman. If he can average 40+ and bowl 5-10 overs an innings he is worth his spot, but not as a batsman only.

I personally think Ferguson needs to be in the mix. He showed with his run in the ODI team that he can make it at international level. Sure his career stats aren't the greatest, but his form this year after coming back from injury has been good. I believe that he would be the best pick for a number 6, with Khawaja taking Watson's place at 4.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 12:40 GMT)

I doubt very much that Watson is in the top six best batters in the country, calf strain or not. It's bad luck he's had such a bad run with injuries but looking fwd, if Watson can't play as an all rounder he's not much use. Unfortunately this opens up a gaping wound in the batting lineup. no one making runs in the shield and np real young class players coming through. Staggered about the calls for O'Keefe ahead of Lyon. Lyon is doing a good job and will get better with time. You may want two spinners for india but Best 11 for England at this stage is 1. Warner 2. Cowan 3. Hughes 4. S. marsh 5. Clarke 6. Khawaja Wade 8. Siddle 9. Starc 10. Lyon 11. Bird

Posted by getaclue on (January 7, 2013, 12:36 GMT)

Meety, youre point about mitch marsh is spot on, clearly you watch WA a bit. His batting is absolutley nowehere near Test standard and would need a good few years at shield level before he should get a crack. I've said it before, its a damn shame mcdonald is injured...has been bashing tonnes the last two years when fit and can definately hold up an end with his stump to stump stuff.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 12:34 GMT)

Watson should retire from Test Cricket. After all these years he still doesn't know what his role is, he keeps getting injured every 5 mins, his numbers aren't great and he turns 32 this year. I think he should stick to the shorter forms of the game where he is one of the best players in the world - that way he could keep playing until his late 30's.

Posted by HowdyRowdy on (January 7, 2013, 12:33 GMT)

Watson not able to bowl and wanting to play as a pure batsman - unfortunately this was always a high risk scenario.

The NSP however seemed to have blindly hoped for the best in terms of Watson's fitness and now have a further very undesirable selection to sort out immediately prior to important tours.

This is symptomatic of not wanting to make the hard decisions about what is Australia's best Test lineup. Stand by for more putting off the hard selection decisions

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 12:30 GMT)

Meety, like your side. Johnson name on the teamsheet always makes me nervous though. I'm leaning more toward a seaming allrounder, one of Christian or Henriques as the third seamer, someone who runs in and hits the deck and can maintain a decent line and length. I guess the problem with that is that it's hard to rely on either Starc or Johnson at this stage and you may find yourself all of a sudden with just one effective seamer. I do feel though that 3 specialist seamers is surplus to requirements. I'm finding it very hard at the moment to find the right balance for this team. I guess the second half of the shield will enlighten us. If guys like Henriques, Beer, O'Keefe can string together some strong performances I think they'll be on the plane to Delhi. If only Watto could keep himself fit :-/ Balances the team perfectly across all surfaces.

Posted by Meety on (January 7, 2013, 12:19 GMT)

@Chris_P on (January 07 2013, 10:07 AM GMT) - technically (limited to the players I picked), our batsmen are in form with the only ?-mark over Ussie. I dropped Cowan for the India tour - he's got the least impressive numbers of our batsmen. Hughes is at least a par, & Wade's got a last start ton. I agree regarding Copeland, I hold him in high regard & think he could do a real good job. IMO - you could select Copeland instead of a spinner in India. He'll bowl long spells & is accurate.

Posted by rippa86 on (January 7, 2013, 12:13 GMT)

I don't think Watson can make it as a test batsman. his avg over the last couple of years has been ordinary, he can't convert 50s to 100s. hasn't got a strong defence. to me he seems lazy sometimes while batting. his stumping in hobart is a good example. best looking batsman untill reaching 30... IMO Bowling was the only reason why he was in the side. I honestly don't think Warner and Watson will make a solid test opening pair, they wouldn't complement each over well at all.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 12:09 GMT)

watto as a specialist batsmen? then he should earn his place in the side as a batsmen. his record as a batsmen would struggle to get him a game for new zealand in test cricket. If watto cant bowl, then he is no good to australia, there are much better batsmen who can score centuries playing for each and every state in aus cricket. if he cant bowl, can he be expected to give his everything fielding as well? too many times ponting put himself ahead of auusie cricket, stop this madness

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (January 7, 2013, 11:58 GMT)

My Team For the Tour Of India 1. Shane Watson (More suited to opening then any other spot). 2. David Warner (Great form, and a great prospect, earnt his spot with the sheer amount of runs.) 3. Phil Hughes (Like Warner & Khawaja, greatAussie prospect, age on his side, in good form, tightened technique. 4. Michael Clarke (Dont care if he "likes" batting at 5, your best batsmen needs to bat at 4, adds some experience to our young top order. 5. Usman Khawaja (Great technique, brilliant prospect for the future, deserves his place in the side.) 6. Mathew Wade (Needs to tighten his keeping technique, great batsmen too, age on his side. 7. Henriques(For India)/Mitch Marsh(For Ashes) 8. Mitchell Starc (Good form with both ball and can bat, experience on his side.) 9. James Pattinson (Hopefully he will be fit, as he is a great addition to the side. 10. Nathan Lyon (Currently our best Test Spinner, have to pick him in Indi 11. Jackson Bird (He has proved himself in his first few test

Posted by wix99 on (January 7, 2013, 11:57 GMT)

I think it would be best if Australia just selected Watson to play ODIs and T20s. That way his bowling load can be managed and he can be an effective allrounder.

I suggest the Test team for India should be: 1. Warner 2. Hughes 3. Khawaja 4. Clarke 5. Ferguson 6. Maxwell 7. Wade 8. Siddle 9. Pattinson 10. Lyon/Boyce 11. Bird. One of the Mitchells (Johnson and Starc) can carry the drinks.

Posted by inefekt on (January 7, 2013, 11:55 GMT)

I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks Watson should go back to opening the batting in test cricket and that Cowan needs to be sent back to domestic cricket, he simply does not look test class. Khawaja should slot into the number four position which begs the question 'who bats at six with Mike Hussey now a spectator?'. Our options are limited but off the top of my head I can think of D Hussey, Ferguson, Doolan or perhaps even a recall for Sean Marsh, though his discipline record of late would count against him. Personally I'd go with Ferguson, he's averaging 40+ this Shield season and his ODI average is 6 more than his List A average which could suggest he is the type of player to lift when playing for his country. I think it's worth a shot.

Posted by PFEL on (January 7, 2013, 11:44 GMT)

If England could do ok in India, then surely Australia should absolutely Dominate. Everyone saying David Hussey will be a useful bowler in India watches too much T20. He would be useless as a Test bowler.

Posted by Busie1979 on (January 7, 2013, 11:33 GMT)

Watson not bowling is a waste of time - he is no Steve Waugh with the bat. Meanwhile, Steve Waugh was only a part time bowler, whereas Watson is the real deal. If Watson didn't bowl, he may not have had a single test to his name by now. Best case scenario he will be a solid batsman averaging in the low 40s. Worst case scenario is his batting doesn't improve significantly and he is dropped. This will be a shame because he brings a great deal of versatility to the team as an all rounder who is good in both disciplines.

Posted by inefekt on (January 7, 2013, 11:21 GMT)

@Maxim, so you're saying that India is deliberately doctoring pitches to suit their players? Interesting. And you say we dished up green tops the entire tour? I distinctly remember seeing some very Indian like pitches here in Oz and thought to myself how nice our curators were to those visiting Indian sides.

Posted by LillianThomson on (January 7, 2013, 10:40 GMT)

Shane Watson was just fine as a batting all-rounder.

The problem was making him bowl 47 overs in a Test, which is a demand which would not be made on Jacques Kallis.

When Hilfy broke down there were other options - Lyon could have bowled more, as could Clarke.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 10:19 GMT)

guys, keep in mind that the Indian pitches are going to be square turners, apparently this is retaliation for the "greentops" they had to play on in Australia. We need 2 spinners, and someone who bowls flat with some turn is going to have the most success, that could be either Beer or SO'K along with Lyon. 2 fast bowlers would probably be enough in India, so Watson could form the 3rd seamer as a part-timer if the ball starts swinging. England only lost the first test because they picked only one spinner (and some poor batting in the first dig). All of our top 3 look dicey against spin, so Watson may not be ideal at 4, we need some players who are prepared to use their feet, like Alistar Cook and KP.

Posted by Meety on (January 7, 2013, 10:16 GMT)

@Beertjie on (January 07 2013, 09:47 AM GMT) - fair enuff, Huss should do okay if given a chance in India. Whatever the make up of the side, I would want one left hand pacer. The changes you make (IMO) would be okay IF Watto was capable of bowling 4 or 5 overs a day. Combine that with say DHussey 4 or 5 overs we might be okay. A lot of people talk about DHussey's spin - the reality is in FC cricket it is quite ordinary. He averages 61 with the ball! So I would only rely on a few overs from him at the most, I think Warner would be more likely to take a wicket, Dhussey should keep it tight.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (January 7, 2013, 10:10 GMT)

Enjoy the india tour boys. I know i will be.

Posted by Chris_P on (January 7, 2013, 10:07 GMT)

@Meety, If our bats were in form I would go with the 5 bowlers, but I think we'll be needing 6 plus Wade. Not sure how Copeland pulled up, but let's not forget how well he bowled in Sri Lanka last season. That said, unless he takes wickets forget him. Siddle, Starc, Bird for sure, with Lyons. I guess they'll take MJ (I wouldn't, but this what I feel the selectors will take) with Maxwell & Beer. I would take SOK & Zampa for experience & Copeland. Not sure if Rhino will be back, but he would get a start in the tour group with me. They may take Nevill as the last starter to cover the keeping & batting for any tour games, but doubt it. Henriques will need to continue his form to be considered, although I would prefer him for England. If D Hussey gets a few runs in the latter part of the shield, he is a chance given his technique against spin, definitely a short term selection though. We'll be doing it tough there, it is still a difficult place to win unless you got strikepower.

Posted by Meety on (January 7, 2013, 9:47 GMT)

@PFEL on (January 07 2013, 09:10 AM GMT) - re: Bird v MJ - I see where you are coming from, however I severely doubt that Harris would be fit, so I'd be playing Bird & MJ. I figure - IF you go a 5-man attack, you would want at least one left hand pacer. So it was a toss of the coin between Starc & MJ, I could handle either or, but DO NOT want both in the same side. @Macca_mat on (January 07 2013, 08:34 AM GMT) - Mitch Marsh needs to put his head down, stay fit & start scoring runs. He seems to be naturally a good bowler & atm he is a bowler who bats, but due to injuries, doesn't bowl enuff. Whilst I would select Marsh in T20s, I wouldn't have him anywhere near the Test team for about 2 years!

Posted by Beertjie on (January 7, 2013, 9:47 GMT)

Let's face it Watto is no all rounder. The breakdown of Hilfenhaus at Hobart forced him to bowl almost 48 overs when he should only have been allowed half of that. So given the fear of another breakdown 2 Watto types (batsmen who can bowl economically if a specialist gets injured) should always play. MC is too important to call upon, so for the time being David Hussey should be selected provided he shows better form. He should play SS alongside Watto and give the ODI's a miss. If he shows signs of improved 4-day form, take him to India and play him in the first test. Cowan's form is dicey at best, so drop him for the Delhi test and play Watto. @Meety on (January 07 2013, 07:05 AM GMT): I like your team but I think it is too light on batting, so provided Hussey shows the FC form he would replace Johnson in your team. I'd also have Starc for Harris if he's not fit.

Posted by Meety on (January 7, 2013, 9:41 GMT)

@SamRoy on (January 07 2013, 08:20 AM GMT) - Wade kept brilliantly in the WIndies where the pitches are very sub-continental, he will do well in India thank you very much matey!

Posted by Meety on (January 7, 2013, 9:25 GMT)

@Shaggy076 on (January 07 2013, 08:36 AM GMT) - fair enough re: SO'K, although the reality is, Pup is unlikely to bowl many overs due to his chronic back, (which IMO one way or the other has caused his hammy problems of late). I want a left arm spinner in the side (in the absence of a frontline legspin contender). SO'K is the leading spinner in the Shield - although that doesn't say much. I am aware that England's flirtation with a bits n pieces spin-bowling allrounder (Patel) didn't work, but I think SO'K is worth a shot, (India have had a habit in the past to failing against unheralded/unknown spinners in the past - Krezja one example). As for the batsmen - I am a big Ferguson fan, but despite a good shield season, I can't pick him - (a career ave of 36 says something), he needs to back up this season with another next year. On another article I was stating I was dissappointed he didn't get in the recent ODI side. I think he could play Tests via sucess in the ODI side.

Posted by PFEL on (January 7, 2013, 9:10 GMT)

@ Shaggy, Tim Hart, you guys don't seem to realise that Clarke really can't bowl anymore. And if he does it will be in a very limited role. And Warner's not up to standard. We NEED a second spinner for india. Preferably a left-armer and S'OK would be the best choice. I also agree that Meety's team is basically perfect for India, with the exception of perhaps Bird deserving a spot ahead of Johnson. I also know the selectors won't do anything like this. Cowan has already been in the side far too long, and whatever Steve O'Keefe did to make the selector's hate him, i doubt he has been forgiven.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 9:01 GMT)

Good team Meety, although I don't know much about O'Keefe. Agree also with comments about Cowan. I think the best he can do is take a leaf out of Hayden's book, and get a friendly groundsman to prepare a dry and low practice pitch, then have spinners bowl and bowl at him until he finds a way of scoring against them. Then he might have a chance in India. Unfortunately I share Moppa's concern that he will end up getting burned, when I think Australia could do with him in the longer term.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 8:57 GMT)

I think he should retire from Tests and be the captain of the short form teams. If he's not so good at starting his innings against spin, then why should the team have to change itself around to accommodate him?

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 7, 2013, 8:36 GMT)

He was a gun opening bat for a couple of years and if he wanted to just be an opening batsman I would pick him. Meety - I personally think Clarke is a better bowler than O Keefe so I wouldnt be going down that path. I'd prefer to have an extra batsman possibly Callum Fergusson who is a class player of spin and use Clarke more in bowling. I think if Burns or Neville went then there would be a lot of Australian batsman unhappy. Cosgrove and D Hussey have also had a pretty ordinary season and cant see how any of these guys would be in front of Fergusson for India.

Posted by Mary_786 on (January 7, 2013, 8:34 GMT)

I like the team put forward by Meety, Khawaja must come in to the team for the Indian series, not playing him in the last test wasn't right given it was a dead rubber. I would open with Watson and Warner too. OKeefe would be a better option then Maxwell though i am a fan of Mitch Marsh and Henriques as well.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 8:30 GMT)

Wow Kallis win the race by miles.. I felt so sad when he was compared to Kallis who can retain his spot in any team in any role...What to say of all the roles he play..

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 8:29 GMT)

Watson cannot be considered purely as an opener. imo watson should being out of the test side until form dictates otherwise. He has shown how devestating he is in limited overs, and this is what he should focus on to extend his career. The biggest question is wether we go to india with the side we want for ashes or side best for india. i have no problem either way, as long as it is made clear and people arent dropped based on india form for ashes. my 11 for the ashes would be: 1. Warner, 2. Hughes, 3. Cowan, 4. Khwaja, 5. Clarke, 6. Wade, 7. Henriques/McDonald/Watson* , 8. Johnson, 9. Siddle, 10. Pattinson, 11. Lyon 12. Bird, Haddin, O'Keefe, Bailey.

*Medium Pace Allrounder, believe we have enough spin options in lyon, warner, clarke

Posted by Mitch069 on (January 7, 2013, 8:27 GMT)

Agree with Meety, Khawaja is a must in the lineup and i would open with Watto and Warner. Its great to see Khawaja in the ODI lineup, will be good exposure for him.

Posted by SamRoy on (January 7, 2013, 8:20 GMT)

@Meety Australia will loose if Wade keeps in India. Simple as that. Typical Sydney wicket on day 5 = typical Indian wicket on day 3 and Wade is horrible against spinners as a keeper. Wade can play as specialist batsman at 6 and Tim Paine (best keeper out of Wade, Haddin and himself) at No. 7. And it would be better if Warner and Watson opens as they can give an aggressive start but a defensive batsman like Cowan can also score some runs.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 8:13 GMT)

It's worth remembering that Watson did used to bat at no . 7 and it was some of his worst form with the bat and he was an underwhelming bowler back then. As much as his bowling is great for the side, it seems to be a constant source of injuries for him, there is no point having him on as a bowler if he'll get injured after two games, he just needs to play to what he's physically capable of.

Posted by HatsforBats on (January 7, 2013, 8:08 GMT)

If he's not bowling he has to be one of the best six test batsmen in the country, and that's highly debatable. But it's not just his bowling, it's his running. He doesn't sprint in the field for fear of injury and his running between the wickets is no better. Unless he can address that he will remain a liability. I would dearly love another right hander in the top order though, it's getting ridiculous.

Posted by Moppa on (January 7, 2013, 7:48 GMT)

A well considered piece as usual @Meety. That XI would do better in India that whatever Inverarity and co. will cook up, probably involving Maxwell and Cowan. I think Cowan has a role in the Australian team, but for a player of limited talent has made too many schoolboy errors and, as you say, will struggle in India. I'm particularly concerned that he's still not backing up correctly after the Gabba - surely such a 'thinking cricketer' would learn from his mistakes? However, Australia doesn't tend to change batsmen on a 'horses for courses' basis, so I expect Cowan will tour India, but lose his place by the time we get to England - exactly the opposite of what you are suggesting!

Posted by tfjones1978 on (January 7, 2013, 7:25 GMT)

Watson should not be given a permanent spot in the team. He should be part of the rotation, being one of the players that plays say 5 tests a year to prove himself. With Watsons lack of form in last two years (11 tests, 20 innings) of 26.4, the selectors should look at some up and comers as alternatives. Also, we dont need another opener, we already have three!

Posted by On_The_Boundary on (January 7, 2013, 7:04 GMT)

Watto should stick to bowling, and lay off the batting. Having him coming in at 7 would be fantastic - especially as Johnson and Siddle are very good lower order batsmen.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 6:52 GMT)

well without his bowling he is no longer good enough to be playing soley as a batsman. i think if he could ave 43 opening, that would be good enough but based on his form since with the bat and without his bowling, the make up of the side will need a rethink.

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Daniel BrettigClose
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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Australia v Sri Lanka at Melbourne - Jan 28, 2013
Sri Lanka won by 2 runs (D/L method)
Australia v Sri Lanka at Sydney - Jan 26, 2013
Sri Lanka won by 5 wickets (with 7 balls remaining)
Australia v Sri Lanka at Hobart - Jan 23, 2013
Australia won by 32 runs
Australia v Sri Lanka at Sydney - Jan 20, 2013
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Australia v Sri Lanka at Brisbane - Jan 18, 2013
Sri Lanka won by 4 wickets (with 180 balls remaining)
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