Australia news October 1, 2011

Watson could move down the order

ESPNcricinfo staff

Shane Watson, the Australia allrounder, has questioned whether his body will be able to handle the rigours of bowling regularly and opening the batting, and suggested he may have to shift down the order to compensate. Watson has been surprisingly successful the top of the order for Australia over the last couple of years and had previously rejected the possibility of a return to the middle order, but is rethinking his options after the recent tour of Sri Lanka.

"My role in the team has changed," Watson told the Daily Telegraph. "I have additional bowling demands and I do have to consider whether my body will be able to handle it. I need to think about what will be the best for the team, and how to get the best out of myself, moving ahead.

"I will continue to talk to [captain] Michael Clarke about it, but having just gone through the Sri Lanka series with that extra workload, this is the time I am thinking about it more."

Watson, newly promoted to vice-captain, bowled 75 overs in the three Tests in Sri Lanka, a substantial increase per game compared to the 76 overs he bowled across the five Ashes Tests last summer. His batting also appeared to suffer as a result. He made just 85 runs against Sri Lanka at an average of 17.40. In the Ashes series, he was Australia's second leading run-scorer with 435 at 48.33.

In order to protect him for international cricket - Australia play South Africa and India later this year - Cricket Australia has placed a bowling ban on him for the duration of the Champions League Twenty20, where Watson is playing for New South Wales.

Watson is also set to release his autobiography, Watto, in two days time, in which he reveals that CA told him to give up bowling in 2007 due to his constant injuries. His subsequent decision to seek an outside opinion was the reason he was able to get back to his best form and keep bowling, and "is the only reason I wrote the book", Watson said.

"I know from speaking to a number of athletes that the information they are getting is often not the best thing for them to get fit constantly. Sometimes you have to look outside to be able to find it. There would have been a number of people who found themselves in my situation and moved on to something else, but it is not always a dead-end."

It was former Australian Football League physio Victor Popov that Watson turned to for help, a move that ultimately paid off for Watson and Australia: "These guys [at CA] were doing their best to help me but when it came down to it, they were giving up on me ... it doesn't get much worse than being told by your team's medical experts that maybe you might never bowl again.

"In the end, I couldn't handle it and I didn't go out of my apartment for about three weeks, apart from seeing Victor ... I cried quite a bit. I felt like I was just about at the end of it, especially as an all-rounder.

"I was 26 and it felt like I was never going to realise my dreams ... I knew that so many other people in the world have a life that's 50,000 times harder than I've ever had. But I was in a spiral and, when you're like that, the only thing that matters is what's going on in your own life."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mashuq on October 4, 2011, 8:32 GMT

    Since I live in South Africa, I think I know a little more than most about conditions here. The batsmen will not have a problem with Copeland because he's a yard too slow. He may tie them down, but they'll pick him off and he won't get wickets at Newlands. Yes, @Meety,"MJ & Hughes have had good success in Sth Africa", but Hughes was an unknown then who caught them on the hop (this is precisely the reason why I'd go with Pattinson for Copeland) - they'll be ready for him now! As for MJ, Newlands is not Wanderers/Kingsmead, so what's the point in another failed attempt (ditto for Hughes!)? As I wrote, I recognize the other factors that selectors will likely consider(which is why I listed two teams), but one doesn't need top be prescient to see trends. You ask for evidence, @Meety. My reply is look at the quality of the opposition on their home turf and especially the the track on which they'll be playing the first test. It's not a case of "mass droppings" but of horses for courses.

  • Dummy4 on October 4, 2011, 7:24 GMT

    @Meety My apologies..i just reread your post and got that u wanted Watto to bat at No:6 only after Hussey retires and not after he drops to No:6...that makes a part of my earlier message void BUT I am for Katich with Hughes/any opener...especially since bowling seems to have a much more settled look than during the Ashes

  • Dummy4 on October 4, 2011, 7:07 GMT

    @Meety thanks for your comments...but couple of things to be clarified...u have written the duration of Watto's stay at the top depends on Katich(among others)..i thought he was sidelined permanently by the selectors (huge disappointment)..i would be glad to hear i am wrong...and Hussey moving down the order he is Australia's best batsman at the moment....would you like that to happen any time soon....i would not because i enjoy watching quality batting...would wish for any genuine opener/Katich to have a longer run at the top.OK Katich is old but if hes fit and performing why cant he play...especially considering the dearth for quality openers atl east at the moment..he can mentor Hughes/any rookie who comes up..with an eye to the future should we jeopardize whatever good is happening at present...dont think so

  • Andrew on October 4, 2011, 0:16 GMT

    @Dinker Rkn - know where you are coming from. I think its more of a short term/long term issue. In the short term he is the opener as there is not enough pressure coming from anybody else (UNLESS we went with KATICH). Hughes is NOT YET a permanent option, & am still unsure about Marsh. Warner could come into the equation quickly if he starts the Shield season very well, but that will be for the NZ/India series. For the time being it's Watto at the top, but lots will depend on Hughes, Marsh, Warner, Katich, & (Rogers & Maddinson?) as to when/if he drops down. IMO I want a genuine Allrounder, & would gladly slot him in at #4, & then when M Hussey retires - to #6.

  • Christopher on October 4, 2011, 0:15 GMT

    Ive read with amusement,the perception that Watson was a bowling tour de force in the Test series in SL.Ouside the Galle Test,where it rained wickets for bowlers on a pitch that received due condemnation from the ICC,Watson took 2/114 at 57. Im a fan of the quality of Watson but recognise his physical endurance limitations.As he is already 30,the probability remains that his endurance will not improve.Intelligent people will not try to kill the goose that laid the golden egg by overusing his bowling.Theres the distinct possibility,that far from his bowling afftecting his batting,the impending release of a book that heaviliy criticised aspects of CA & selection might have been more influential,particularly in light of them announcing the old selection firm would select for SA.I doubt Watson was expecting them to still be involved at this point,but Sutherland and Co. have dragged it out for all they are worth,seeking personal validation to dilute their failed years,policies & behaviour.

  • Andrew on October 4, 2011, 0:06 GMT

    @Beertjie - I think you must of got out of the wrong side of the bed when you posted those comments! I don't know where to start!!! Mass droppings at a time when the team is showing GENUINE improvement in attitude/application is just crazy. History shows that some players have favourite places to play cricket, MJ & Hughes have had good success in Sth Africa & the prospects remain good that will happen again. As for Copeland, he stands MORE chance of performing well in Sth Africa than in SL, where the pitches were exactly the opposite of what he normally needs to take wickets. Copeland's height on bouncier wickets, will have the Saffas often in no-mans land when batting, not able to come forward & not wanting to play back to good length balls. As for Hauritz v Lyon, that has fors & against, if you want a good #8 who's a spinner, why not O'Keefe? That being said IMO the order of quality spinners in Oz is 1. Hauritz, 2. O'keefe, 3. Lyon, 4. Smith, 5. Casson, 6. Krezja, 7. Doherty, 8. Beer

  • Andrew on October 3, 2011, 23:56 GMT

    @AidanFX - I think it's a chicken or the egg thing regarding International sport in a comparison between the 2 sports. With cricket, International matches were common very early in its history & took hold thru the Ashes very quickly & had high importance. With Soccer, International matches really only gained significance in tournaments. So International matches outside qualifying for tournaments are just counted as "Friendlies". I think it will be difficult to shift the weighting between franchise v country. That being said, non-traditional cricket fans (basically T20 fans), will be pro-franchise, which would make it more appealing for a player to turn his back on "National Duty". The IPL is only 4 years old, I don't think its a certainty to continue in the same manner as currently, (I believe there is a strong chance salaries will drop significantly & will come more in line with central contracts, hence not as tempting). I base the IPL comment on declining viewership over 4 yrs.

  • Christopher on October 3, 2011, 23:53 GMT

    @beertjie.Youre asking to be believed when you have no supporting evidence.MJ is outstanding against SA-period.If Watson is better than Hughes,why,when he has played 17 more Tests,is his average lower,his strike rate lower & with 1 less 100? If Marsh has the,'concentration for the job'youre suggesting,why is he renowned,despite good technique,over an 11 year 1st class career for losing his wicket to poor concentration,which has left him with only 7 -1st class 100s ever and a 30s career average.Why,does he have only 3 centuries in the last 4 years,while Hughes has 17 on 4 continents,including 3 in Tests,2 against SA?Why did both Clarke & Hughes suddenly play with a freedom,not seen in years,on learning that Nielsen would retire after the 3rd SL Test & why did Hughes scoring,slow to a crawl on arriving in SL,even in the Board XI game,despite flaying both SA-A & Zimbabwe for centuries,just weeks before for for Aust-A?Why does Hughes have 5 centuries in his last 9 games while Marsh has 1?

  • Mashuq on October 3, 2011, 12:10 GMT

    @Dinker Rkn your question about the openers in SA is good. Against that attack Watto should be one and Marsh the other. But since he got that 100, Hughes will be retained until he fails in all four innings before they re-consider (I hope). If not, he'll get runs against the Kiwis and remain in the team (till when?). Marsh looks to have the concentration for the job, so he should be moved up giving Watto the room to bowl more and believe me, they'll need his bowling in that first test at Newlands where MJ will be massacred as he was a couple of years ago. So instead of giving my team I'm giving 2 teams: one that will lose followed by the one that would at least draw: Hughes, Watson, Marsh, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Haddin, Johnson, Harris, Copeland, Lyon Marsh, Watson, Ponting, Khawaja, Clarke, Hussey, Haddin, Hauritz, Harris, Siddle, Pattinson Dropping Hughes and Lyon may be a tough call, but if you drop MJ you need a decent number 8. Copeland, too, will get nothing from SA tracks.

  • Dummy4 on October 3, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    I think Watson"s bowling against Sri Lanka was a revealation. It is wonderful for Australia have someone to go to, who not only puts pressure on the scoring rate but can bring the ball in sharply to get wickets.Bhis rut his batting has clearly suffered and I think if Australia need him as a bowler too, who can bowl long spells and get wickets too then his request to be shifted down the order is not an unreasonable one. It would be great if he could bat at six and that probably means Warner gets a look in. I like Warner"s technique , it is definitely better than Hughes". Though Hughes should get a chance based on his last innings and the fact that he has done so well in South Afica better. I seriously think that this Australian team is a far sight better than the one that lost the Ashes so badly and if Ponting has a second lease of batting life, then they could be a decent competitor, something they have not been for some time. sridhar

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