Australia news February 28, 2012

Watson unsure about Test role

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Shane Watson has conceded he doesn't know where he will fit back in to Australia's Test side after missing all six matches of the home summer due to injury. Watson was on Monday named Australia's best ODI and Twenty20 international player of the past year at Allan Border Medal night in Melbourne, a day after he made his return to the national side.

He captained Australia to a one-day victory over India on Sunday in Sydney, in the absence of the injured skipper Michael Clarke, and opened the batting with David Warner. It was Watson's first game for Australia in more than three months after hamstring and calf problems sidelined him for the Tests against New Zealand and India.

In the meantime, Warner established himself as a Test opener and Ed Cowan proved a solid companion at the top of the order. Warner, Watson and Cowan are all likely to be part of the Test squad that will tour the West Indies in April but it is not clear whether Watson will resume in the opening position or will slot in down the order, which would allow him to take more of a role with the ball.

"I'm not exactly sure to be honest," Watson said. "I've been watching from afar how impressive this summer has been. I want to be a part of that, wherever that is. I've loved opening the batting, there's no doubt about that. But I want to be a part of it because it's been very exciting to watch from afar and I really want to play a big role in that, whatever role that is."

One possibility is that Watson could move in to the No.3 spot that is almost certain to be vacated by the out-of-form Shaun Marsh, which would allow Warner and Cowan to remain the opening combination. Whatever the case, Clarke is excited at the prospect of regaining his vice-captain, and a man who will strengthen a side that won five of its six home Tests this season.

"I can't wait to have him back," Clarke said after winning the Allan Border Medal and sharing the spoils of the evening with Watson. "It's great to see him back playing one-day cricket. I have absolutely no doubt that he'll walk straight back into our Test team. He's been a great player for a long time but his performances over the last three years have been very consistent. It's no surprise to me that he sits here again with another two awards.

"If we keep him on the park he'll be sitting here with a few more next year as well because he's an amazing talent. He's one of the few players these days who can perform in all three forms of the game with the bat, with the ball, pretty good in the field as well. He makes a big difference to our team. We've played some really good cricket throughout this summer to be able to win this most recent Test series without him. But as captain of the team it always makes life easier when you've got Watto in your team."

Watson's two awards were all the more impressive given that he has missed so much cricket recently. But despite missing the first three quarters of the Commonwealth Bank Series, he was a close second to Clarke on Australia's ODI run tally during the voting period and continued his individual success having won the Allan Border Medal in 2010 and 2011.

"A couple of months ago I was struggling physically with my body to be able to even get on the park," Watson said. "To even think I was going to come back and have a game like we did last night and then come tonight and get a couple of awards, it's nice to think I must have performed quite well in the first part of the year because I haven't played much recently."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Blakey on March 1, 2012, 20:47 GMT

    Poor baby! Feeling unloved is he? Needs a little boost to his ego? Since when do players seek assurances from the selectors via a public fforum? Big mistake Clarke, you shouldn't be pandering to Watson's fragile ego.

  • on February 29, 2012, 22:59 GMT

    Yeah I'd go with Watson at 4 and Clarke at 3. They could also make Mike Hussey go back to opening if Cowan or Warner fail.

  • Meety on February 29, 2012, 7:20 GMT

    @Chris Thornton - sorry mate totally disagree around "aura". He already is well respected as a batsmen & captain, the whole no respect is sooooo last season! LOL! @getaclue- I'm with you on that!

  • zenboomerang on February 29, 2012, 6:16 GMT

    @Dashgar :- "Players have form 'patches' both good and bad that can last years"... Well they are no good to the team if they have poor form for that long... Read the Argus report - current form is a major deciding factor in selecting players for teams... Imagine having a football team with players out of form like last summers Ashes team - Hughes, Ponting, Clarke, North, Smith, Siddle, Hilfenhaus, Johnson, Bollinger, Doherty... All would be on the reserves bench except we needed a captain... Watson at 1st slip? He's too lazy to field anywhere else... What about Clarke, Warner? Both excellent fieldsmen... Watson isn't a top order batsman in Tests & the last 7 years have proven it...

  • Dashgar on February 29, 2012, 3:25 GMT

    @MinusZero while I agree with you to a point we need to remember that form isn't just what you did last week. Players have form 'patches' both good and bad that can last years. Watson wasn't in the best opening form when he was dropped (understatement) but he was in his best bowling form probably ever. He also fields first slip and without we don't have a specialist there. I called Watson the best player in the country with good reason I believe. There was a time that Ponting held this mantle (2003ish) but he doesn't anymore. His form has been in steady decline for a while. That isn't the case with Watson, who has had maybe 2 poor series' with the bat only, and then had an injury. If Ponting had only been poor for 2 months he'd still be in the team given past achievements. He had been in decline for 3 years though. That is way way too long and he should have got dropped soon after the world cup.

  • MinusZero on February 29, 2012, 0:31 GMT

    @Dashgar. Comments like that are the reason why players stay beyond their welcome. Past history should mean nothing. So what you are saying is that Ponting should not have been dropped based on what he has done in the past? If thats the case, the team will be full of 50 year olds. Current form is all players should be picked on, based on maybe their last 10 games or something. They set a good precedent by telling players perform or we will get someone better in. And as for Watsons 'form', since January 2010, he has only averaged 36 in tests with 1 century. Openers do not score just 1 century in 2 years. Other players have performed better and been dropped. I still say he needs to prove himself, his first class game for NSW after his comeback from injury was not great.

  • on February 29, 2012, 0:30 GMT

    With Watson's return & the emergence of Forrest, you can bet that no matter how many calls for Clarke to bat at 3- he won't. Until Clarke realises he needs to create an aura of the batsman who one would choose to bat for your life(like Steve Waugh, Border, Boon, Langer, Ian Chappell- all of whom batted at some stage at 3), he will never win the true respect of followers.

  • on February 29, 2012, 0:18 GMT

    Watson to bat at No.3 is perfect. It will take some pressure off to ensure his all round capabilities are enhanced, he is a much better player of fast bowing than spinners to No.3 makes sense for him. It keeps a good opening partnership together that we have in Warner/Cowan. Everybody wins

  • on February 29, 2012, 0:09 GMT

    As much as I enjoy watching Warner play, I'm not 100% certain he is an opening specialist. I'd sooner see Warner down the order than Watson.

  • getaclue on February 28, 2012, 23:57 GMT

    @errol1233 - what on earth has Neville done in Australian colours for you to be already saying he is no good and 'will not do it for Australia as his technique has shown'??? He hasnt been given a chance yet. And odds on, I have no doubt that 3 weeks ago before Forrest was plucked for the one-day side that you were saying he should be a must for the Test tour. You're just picking blokes that you've seen recently on TV!

  • Blakey on March 1, 2012, 20:47 GMT

    Poor baby! Feeling unloved is he? Needs a little boost to his ego? Since when do players seek assurances from the selectors via a public fforum? Big mistake Clarke, you shouldn't be pandering to Watson's fragile ego.

  • on February 29, 2012, 22:59 GMT

    Yeah I'd go with Watson at 4 and Clarke at 3. They could also make Mike Hussey go back to opening if Cowan or Warner fail.

  • Meety on February 29, 2012, 7:20 GMT

    @Chris Thornton - sorry mate totally disagree around "aura". He already is well respected as a batsmen & captain, the whole no respect is sooooo last season! LOL! @getaclue- I'm with you on that!

  • zenboomerang on February 29, 2012, 6:16 GMT

    @Dashgar :- "Players have form 'patches' both good and bad that can last years"... Well they are no good to the team if they have poor form for that long... Read the Argus report - current form is a major deciding factor in selecting players for teams... Imagine having a football team with players out of form like last summers Ashes team - Hughes, Ponting, Clarke, North, Smith, Siddle, Hilfenhaus, Johnson, Bollinger, Doherty... All would be on the reserves bench except we needed a captain... Watson at 1st slip? He's too lazy to field anywhere else... What about Clarke, Warner? Both excellent fieldsmen... Watson isn't a top order batsman in Tests & the last 7 years have proven it...

  • Dashgar on February 29, 2012, 3:25 GMT

    @MinusZero while I agree with you to a point we need to remember that form isn't just what you did last week. Players have form 'patches' both good and bad that can last years. Watson wasn't in the best opening form when he was dropped (understatement) but he was in his best bowling form probably ever. He also fields first slip and without we don't have a specialist there. I called Watson the best player in the country with good reason I believe. There was a time that Ponting held this mantle (2003ish) but he doesn't anymore. His form has been in steady decline for a while. That isn't the case with Watson, who has had maybe 2 poor series' with the bat only, and then had an injury. If Ponting had only been poor for 2 months he'd still be in the team given past achievements. He had been in decline for 3 years though. That is way way too long and he should have got dropped soon after the world cup.

  • MinusZero on February 29, 2012, 0:31 GMT

    @Dashgar. Comments like that are the reason why players stay beyond their welcome. Past history should mean nothing. So what you are saying is that Ponting should not have been dropped based on what he has done in the past? If thats the case, the team will be full of 50 year olds. Current form is all players should be picked on, based on maybe their last 10 games or something. They set a good precedent by telling players perform or we will get someone better in. And as for Watsons 'form', since January 2010, he has only averaged 36 in tests with 1 century. Openers do not score just 1 century in 2 years. Other players have performed better and been dropped. I still say he needs to prove himself, his first class game for NSW after his comeback from injury was not great.

  • on February 29, 2012, 0:30 GMT

    With Watson's return & the emergence of Forrest, you can bet that no matter how many calls for Clarke to bat at 3- he won't. Until Clarke realises he needs to create an aura of the batsman who one would choose to bat for your life(like Steve Waugh, Border, Boon, Langer, Ian Chappell- all of whom batted at some stage at 3), he will never win the true respect of followers.

  • on February 29, 2012, 0:18 GMT

    Watson to bat at No.3 is perfect. It will take some pressure off to ensure his all round capabilities are enhanced, he is a much better player of fast bowing than spinners to No.3 makes sense for him. It keeps a good opening partnership together that we have in Warner/Cowan. Everybody wins

  • on February 29, 2012, 0:09 GMT

    As much as I enjoy watching Warner play, I'm not 100% certain he is an opening specialist. I'd sooner see Warner down the order than Watson.

  • getaclue on February 28, 2012, 23:57 GMT

    @errol1233 - what on earth has Neville done in Australian colours for you to be already saying he is no good and 'will not do it for Australia as his technique has shown'??? He hasnt been given a chance yet. And odds on, I have no doubt that 3 weeks ago before Forrest was plucked for the one-day side that you were saying he should be a must for the Test tour. You're just picking blokes that you've seen recently on TV!

  • Kolpak1989 on February 28, 2012, 22:11 GMT

    1. Watson 2. Warner 3. Clarke 4. Ponting 5. Forrest 6. Hussey 7. Wade 8. Siddle 9. Pattinson 10. Hilfenhaus 11. Lyon 12th man: Cummins

    Feel bad for leaving out Cowan, but even though he was solid I don't think he did enough to prevent him from being dropped for Watson to slot back in at opener. Watson and Warner would be the best opening combo because they can both score quickly and rapidly demoralise their opponents. They are also a right hand/left hand combination.

  • errol1233 on February 28, 2012, 21:00 GMT

    Reading all the 'selections' by the readers they all seem to have forgotten one important ingredient for future Australian teams ... Peter Forrest. Now is the time for him to tour for future development ... Khawaja, Marsh and Neville will not do it for Australia as their techniques and attitude have shown. Pattinson, Wade and Forrest are the immediate future so the selectors have one or two more harsh calls to deliver.......

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on February 28, 2012, 17:24 GMT

    I know cowan is no Alastair cook but good test teams always have some such solid guys at top..if cowan could do something like that for Australia it would be great...and shaun marsh is too good a talent to be kept out for long..

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on February 28, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    I think watson should bat down the order , let cowan and warner open they look good.. and watson himself said its a bit difficult for him to open the batting right after bowling..opening in test should always be a specialists job...

  • nathangonmad on February 28, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    1. Watson 2. Warner 3. Cowan 4. Ponting 5. Clarke 6. Hussey 7. Haddin 8. Siddle 9. Pattinson 10. Hilfenhaus 11. Lyon

  • Dashgar on February 28, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    @MinusZero, probably the form that led him to win the Allan Border medal 2 years in a row followed by the ODI and T20 medals this year. Watson is the best cricketer in the country, by the time the next test comes around all the cobwebs will be gone and he will be straight in for sure.

  • Matt. on February 28, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    clarke seems to thrive at no 5 so he should stay there, watto should be no 4 with ponting keeping no 3 until someone forces him out

  • Dashgar on February 28, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    It seems obvious to put Watson in somewhere in the middle order. I think number 4 is ideal so Clarke can keep his pet position at 5 and Ponting will be happy to move back to 3 now that he has test form. Watson had begun to struggle with the openers spot in his last few series' and this move would take the pressure off him and free up his bowling. No brainer, let the two specialists open.

  • on February 28, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    1. Cowan 2. Warner 3. Clarke 4. Ponting 5. Hussey 6. Watson 7. Wade 8. Siddle 9. Pattinson 10. Hilfenhaus 11. Lyon

    Backups Quick Bowler: Harris Keeper: Nevill Batsmen: Khawaja Allrounder: Christian

  • on February 28, 2012, 6:56 GMT

    I have thought for a while that Watto would be a good choice at number 3 in both tests and one dayers. Worth a shot while Cowan and Warner are going along OK, and if he needs to step up to the opening slot, he won't be too out of touch with facing a fairly new ball. Unless Cowan and Warner start putting on century stands with regularity! (not sure *that's* going to happen)

  • jonesy2 on February 28, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    number 3. warner, marsh, watson, ponting, clarke, hussey, wade, siddle, harris, pattinson/cummins/hilfenhaus, lyon.

  • eyballfallenout on February 28, 2012, 4:21 GMT

    number 4, warner, cowan, pointing, watson, clarke, hussey, Wade, very strong line up.

  • MinusZero on February 28, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    Walk straight back in based on what form? The form precedent has already been set with dumping Ponting, he should have to prove himself. Rushing him back will get him injured again. Cowan and Warner should stay at the top anyway. You need a run builder like Cowan, not two impetuous players who get themselves out more often than making a good score.

  • on February 28, 2012, 3:41 GMT

    I think Watson would be better suited to batting at 6 or 7, I don't see any reason why Ponting can't return to 3, with Clarke at 4, Hussey at 5 and the 'keeper, be it Wade or Haddin at 6 or 7

  • getaclue on February 28, 2012, 3:38 GMT

    i hope cowan gets the nod for the first Test. Would love to see how he fares overseas. I reckon we need a bit of his grit at the top of the order. Maybe bat Watto at 3

  • wix99 on February 28, 2012, 3:36 GMT

    I think Watson should go back to batting at No. 5 or No. 6. Michael Clarke should go up to No. 3 to replace Shaun Marsh. This would cause the least disruption to the batting order.

  • Tumbarumbar on February 28, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    Watson has been consistent? Geez by that standard Ian Botham was Zaheer Abbass and Alvin Kallicharan rolled into one.

  • GCKelly on February 28, 2012, 2:48 GMT

    Is anyone else sick of hearing about this?

  • JesseV on February 28, 2012, 2:39 GMT

    Put him at number 3. That way Ponting can stay at 4, and unless Clarke moves to 3, I think this is a good move. He is much better facing the pace bowlers first, and should get some rest after bowling, even though he probably wont bowl that much!

  • Meety on February 28, 2012, 2:26 GMT

    From a pure batting point of view, I'd have Watto partner either Cowan or Warner, opening the innings. This would purely be to have a left hand right hand opening combo. However, since Watto is an allrounder who does suffer mentally & physically combining the 2 skills of bating & bowling, the easy fix, is to bring Watto back in the side at #3. This means we can still test Warner & Cowan, Punter can remain @#4, & Watto (hopefully) can put his feet up for a a while before he goes out to bat. Long term, I think Watto is a #4,5 or 6 batsmen.

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  • Meety on February 28, 2012, 2:26 GMT

    From a pure batting point of view, I'd have Watto partner either Cowan or Warner, opening the innings. This would purely be to have a left hand right hand opening combo. However, since Watto is an allrounder who does suffer mentally & physically combining the 2 skills of bating & bowling, the easy fix, is to bring Watto back in the side at #3. This means we can still test Warner & Cowan, Punter can remain @#4, & Watto (hopefully) can put his feet up for a a while before he goes out to bat. Long term, I think Watto is a #4,5 or 6 batsmen.

  • JesseV on February 28, 2012, 2:39 GMT

    Put him at number 3. That way Ponting can stay at 4, and unless Clarke moves to 3, I think this is a good move. He is much better facing the pace bowlers first, and should get some rest after bowling, even though he probably wont bowl that much!

  • GCKelly on February 28, 2012, 2:48 GMT

    Is anyone else sick of hearing about this?

  • Tumbarumbar on February 28, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    Watson has been consistent? Geez by that standard Ian Botham was Zaheer Abbass and Alvin Kallicharan rolled into one.

  • wix99 on February 28, 2012, 3:36 GMT

    I think Watson should go back to batting at No. 5 or No. 6. Michael Clarke should go up to No. 3 to replace Shaun Marsh. This would cause the least disruption to the batting order.

  • getaclue on February 28, 2012, 3:38 GMT

    i hope cowan gets the nod for the first Test. Would love to see how he fares overseas. I reckon we need a bit of his grit at the top of the order. Maybe bat Watto at 3

  • on February 28, 2012, 3:41 GMT

    I think Watson would be better suited to batting at 6 or 7, I don't see any reason why Ponting can't return to 3, with Clarke at 4, Hussey at 5 and the 'keeper, be it Wade or Haddin at 6 or 7

  • MinusZero on February 28, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    Walk straight back in based on what form? The form precedent has already been set with dumping Ponting, he should have to prove himself. Rushing him back will get him injured again. Cowan and Warner should stay at the top anyway. You need a run builder like Cowan, not two impetuous players who get themselves out more often than making a good score.

  • eyballfallenout on February 28, 2012, 4:21 GMT

    number 4, warner, cowan, pointing, watson, clarke, hussey, Wade, very strong line up.

  • jonesy2 on February 28, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    number 3. warner, marsh, watson, ponting, clarke, hussey, wade, siddle, harris, pattinson/cummins/hilfenhaus, lyon.