Australia news October 16, 2012

Watson may follow Kallis to No. 4

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As Cricket Australia mounted a vigorous defence of Shane Watson's early departure from the Twenty20 Champions League, the national selector John Inverarity opened the possibility of the allrounder following Jacques Kallis by moving further down the order to No. 4 in future.

Watson has often felt embarrassed by comparisons with Kallis, his modesty well founded given the vast difference between their respective Test batting averages (37.54 to 56.94) and tally of centuries (2 versus 43). Nevertheless, Watson at his best offers a similarly compelling combination of robust top-order batting and muscular bowling, and Inverarity said the example of Kallis dropping from Nos. 3 to 4 for reasons of longevity was an instructive one.

He suggested Watson may be set for a similar move whenever one of Michael Hussey or Ricky Ponting retires, as they must at some point not too far distant. "Watson at No. 3, could be a No. 4…" Inverarity said. "If Michael Hussey or Ricky Ponting retired, and if we included Phil Hughes, then it could be Hughes at three and Watson at four. That's feasible. Mickey [Arthur] often talks about Kallis, and a very good position for Kallis is bowling and batting at No. 4. I just think Watson's flexible."

The Sydney Sixers general manager, Stuart Clark, has expressed irritation at plans to bring Watson home from the CLT20, particularly their seemingly hurried nature. CA's team performance manager, Pat Howard, said while the call was recent, the option had been flagged some months earlier, and was a simple case of prioritising Test matches and not allowing last summer's events repeat themselves.

"He's right, the final decision wasn't made until recently," Howard said. "This is a very big series against South Africa - Shane is an important cog for the national selection panel to have consideration of and the reality is you can't play all the games in all the tournaments, all the time.

"The fact that he's an allrounder makes him a pretty unique proposition. We're trying to avoid the same mistakes that we made 12 months ago. Stuart and I have been talking, and it has been reasonable. Outside the limelight it has been a fairly cordial conversation. I know this debate could keep going on but the reality is we've made a decision in the best interests of Australian cricket and in the best interests of Shane Watson."

Australia's increasingly directed and cohesive management of players has reflected the growth of thinking among its decision-makers that fresh, intermittently rested players are going to produce far better results than those forced to traipse around on the constant merry-go-round of international cricket.

Inverarity, the sage voice of more than 50 years' experience in the game, said keeping players on the park for every match was no longer an option. He raised the example of Mitchell Starc as proof of how the judicious management of a player's workload could result not only in keeping him fit but also allowing his skills to develop.

"Rotation is not a dirty word, rotation is reality," he said. "The cold, hard facts are a cricketer can't just play every game, and last and perform at his best. And in the interests of developing some depth and creating opportunities for players, I think just phasing a few in and out is the best way to go.

"Mitchell Starc played in the first two Tests against New Zealand, then we kept him around the group for the first two Tests against India. We then played four quicks in Perth and he was the fourth; he didn't play in Adelaide. He came into the one-day series, we took him to the West Indies in a sort of development role. We had a couple of injuries and he came in for the last Test there.

"Then he went to Yorkshire and learnt to bowl in England. I think the planning with Mitchell Starc over the last 12 months has been pretty good. You saw how well he bowled first in the UAE and then Sri Lanka. He has been the beneficiary of the amount that he has bowled and the circumstances in which he has bowled, and being kept close to the team."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Flemo_Gilly on October 19, 2012, 13:36 GMT

    @ zenboomerang agree with you bud on Watto batting at 6 as this allows him to bowl as well. This would allow Khawaja to come in at 3 or 4 where he is best suited and the opening slot is a contest between Cowan and Hughes. Putting Hughes at 3 makes no sense when you have Khawaja there. Keep players in the position they have batted in shield cricket.

  • zenboomerang on October 19, 2012, 9:03 GMT

    Well the various selectors have moved Watto around trying to fill holes rather than developing batters for a role - he's batted at no.6 / no.1 / no.3 & now being set up in the future at no.4... He should have been left at 6 all along & where his physical needs can be better managed... The batting order should be based on players abilities to build big innings on at least a semi regular basis, which puts Watto at 6 or 7 in the batting order...

  • Mary_786 on October 18, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    I am a fan of Watto, but I think RandyOz was trying to get our reaction, nice one. I don't think any allrounder in our lifetime will catch up to Jacque Kallis, fantastic player.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on October 18, 2012, 8:32 GMT

    @RandyOZ (post on October 17 2012, 21:14 PM GMT): yeah, you mean Phil Jaques from Australia don't you!?

  • Meety on October 18, 2012, 0:03 GMT

    @RandyOZ on (October 17 2012, 21:14 PM GMT) - classic! I think Watto would have to play another 15years to catch Kallis in terms of runs scored & about another 10 to 15 yrs on top of that to go past his 40+ 100s!!! Genius comedy! @Craig Dengate - I really like Ferguson, (think he should be a permanent in the National ODI side), but he's too much like S Marsh. They BOTH have failed the test of Shield cricket for the best part of a decade & are unlikely now to significantly improve (IMO). As I mentioned before, I'd have Ferguson at #4 or #5 in the ODI side in an instant!

  • on October 17, 2012, 22:18 GMT

    @kensohatter why would we want Callum Ferguson? The bloke plays on a road each and every year yet can't seem to get his Sheild average anywhere near a respectable amount. 35 and a bit is no where near up to standard for a bloke who has played over 60 first class games.

  • RandyOZ on October 17, 2012, 21:14 GMT

    Watson is already the best allrounder in the world. It wont be long til hes past Jaques.

  • Sunil_Batra on October 17, 2012, 13:39 GMT

    Khawaja should bat 3, he is the best number 3 in the country once Punter retires. Most commentators i.e Border, Waugh, Taylor think the same as well.

  • Flemo_Gilly on October 17, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    @Macca_mat agree with you bud, Khawaja is the ideal number 3. Unfortunately he got a raw deal when he was dropped last year but I predict he will do great for Qld and get his place back. For Inevarity to put Hughes at 3 when he has never batted at that position will be wrong when you have a batsman of Khawaja's class ready to take that position. I would use Hughes as a opener.

  • Paul_Rampley on October 17, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    Inevarity should bring Khawaja at number 3, he has batted there throughout his first class career successfully and top scored against South Africa in that position last year in the record 300 chase. Hughes should open as he is not suited to batting at 3.

  • Flemo_Gilly on October 19, 2012, 13:36 GMT

    @ zenboomerang agree with you bud on Watto batting at 6 as this allows him to bowl as well. This would allow Khawaja to come in at 3 or 4 where he is best suited and the opening slot is a contest between Cowan and Hughes. Putting Hughes at 3 makes no sense when you have Khawaja there. Keep players in the position they have batted in shield cricket.

  • zenboomerang on October 19, 2012, 9:03 GMT

    Well the various selectors have moved Watto around trying to fill holes rather than developing batters for a role - he's batted at no.6 / no.1 / no.3 & now being set up in the future at no.4... He should have been left at 6 all along & where his physical needs can be better managed... The batting order should be based on players abilities to build big innings on at least a semi regular basis, which puts Watto at 6 or 7 in the batting order...

  • Mary_786 on October 18, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    I am a fan of Watto, but I think RandyOz was trying to get our reaction, nice one. I don't think any allrounder in our lifetime will catch up to Jacque Kallis, fantastic player.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on October 18, 2012, 8:32 GMT

    @RandyOZ (post on October 17 2012, 21:14 PM GMT): yeah, you mean Phil Jaques from Australia don't you!?

  • Meety on October 18, 2012, 0:03 GMT

    @RandyOZ on (October 17 2012, 21:14 PM GMT) - classic! I think Watto would have to play another 15years to catch Kallis in terms of runs scored & about another 10 to 15 yrs on top of that to go past his 40+ 100s!!! Genius comedy! @Craig Dengate - I really like Ferguson, (think he should be a permanent in the National ODI side), but he's too much like S Marsh. They BOTH have failed the test of Shield cricket for the best part of a decade & are unlikely now to significantly improve (IMO). As I mentioned before, I'd have Ferguson at #4 or #5 in the ODI side in an instant!

  • on October 17, 2012, 22:18 GMT

    @kensohatter why would we want Callum Ferguson? The bloke plays on a road each and every year yet can't seem to get his Sheild average anywhere near a respectable amount. 35 and a bit is no where near up to standard for a bloke who has played over 60 first class games.

  • RandyOZ on October 17, 2012, 21:14 GMT

    Watson is already the best allrounder in the world. It wont be long til hes past Jaques.

  • Sunil_Batra on October 17, 2012, 13:39 GMT

    Khawaja should bat 3, he is the best number 3 in the country once Punter retires. Most commentators i.e Border, Waugh, Taylor think the same as well.

  • Flemo_Gilly on October 17, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    @Macca_mat agree with you bud, Khawaja is the ideal number 3. Unfortunately he got a raw deal when he was dropped last year but I predict he will do great for Qld and get his place back. For Inevarity to put Hughes at 3 when he has never batted at that position will be wrong when you have a batsman of Khawaja's class ready to take that position. I would use Hughes as a opener.

  • Paul_Rampley on October 17, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    Inevarity should bring Khawaja at number 3, he has batted there throughout his first class career successfully and top scored against South Africa in that position last year in the record 300 chase. Hughes should open as he is not suited to batting at 3.

  • Mary_786 on October 17, 2012, 13:29 GMT

    Khawaja would be the ideal number 3 once Punter retires, Hughes will be best suited to opening.

  • Juiceoftheapple on October 17, 2012, 13:04 GMT

    Well Hughes topped the batting averages for all three formats for Worcestershire this year, on a difficult batting strip that favoured seam and swing (thou he only averaged 35 in the CC), and looked extremely dangerous (averaged 83 and 100 in one day stuff) - the same couldn't be said for his team mates. And batted against Division 1 bowling (Onions, Sidebottom, Swann, Finn, Philander, Panesar, Rehman, Chapple etc.). I would say the drawn out development of a player from first class standard to international class is apporaching a climax for Hughes.

  • Mike61 on October 17, 2012, 10:45 GMT

    As a South African, not too familiar with squad players of Aus. But the strength in depth of your bowling is really impressive,def something to be scared of. Not convinced about batting though. And as for the Watson/Kallis debate,can't even compare the two as batsman,Kallis is miles ahead.But Watson is a btter bowler these days. Great series coming up,much sleep deprivation for sure

  • satish619chandar on October 17, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    Easy for Aussies. Cowan is in form and Warner is a basher on his day. Can take away a game in a session like the old Aussie great Hayden though not with same consistency. Open with Cowan and Warner followed by Clarke, Punte, Hussey and Watson at 6. Wade will be my preferred keeper. He hasn't done any wrong to gie away his slot. Will pick Siddle, Starc and Cummins/Pattinson/Hilfy/Harris as third seamer. I guess Aussies should with Beer as spinner. South Africans play off spinners very well. Lyon has done what was asked from him until now but against SA, go with a left arm spinner than a off spinner.

  • hyclass on October 17, 2012, 10:03 GMT

    @thenoostar...I would add Rogers to that list. Hard to believe players with 50 or more centuries cant get a game. May be too late. With respect to Hughes, after his dropping in England, there was a twisting of facts to fit theories instead of theories to fit facts. I suggest that you watch Hughes v SA 115 and Hughes v SA 160 on YouTube and decide for yourself. He was facing an 1100 wicket attack of Steyn, Ntini, Morkel, Kallis and Harris on their home turf. They threw everything at him, bowled in the mid to high 140's, set traps and tried to knock his head off or bowled length bowls. His batting was masterful all around the wicket. To see him playing an entirely different game during the Tests in England was very discouraging. Many have wondered, since his former mentor DeCosta made it clear that he was 'forced to prepare in a way that didnt work for him', whether he would ever revert to his original game. Invers still rates him playing this new style. Statistically,its been a failure.

  • hyclass on October 17, 2012, 9:53 GMT

    @Meety...I heartily agree with respect to Marsh. As everyone must be aware, after 12 seasons,he averages 35, barely good enough to make his state side. He has just 7 x 100's, most against the perennially weak Sth Aus at the Adelaide Oval .Hughes has 19 x 100s at 23 years of age. Its not even a contest. Marsh debuted against SL statistically the weakest attack in the world at the time. He did so on historically,two of the flattest pitches. The others had to play on the ICC sanctioned 2 day minefield in Galle in the first Test. I opposed his initial selection, detailing what I expected to happen if he was chosen and was entirely vindicated. I dont think it matters where Watson bats. His only weakness is that he fatigues quickly and is unable to maintain concentration. I also believe it contributes to his injuries. Better electrolytic management suggests itself as a solution. Khawaja is showing signs of replicating his last Shield season with NSW. I opposed Forrest ever being selected.

  • rickyvoncanterbury on October 17, 2012, 8:45 GMT

    3,4,5, 6 and 7 for the first test aginst the saffers will be Clarke, Ponting, Hussey, Watson, Wade. Now its up to the others to take those spots. for me its Kawaja and Henriques.

  • thenoostar on October 17, 2012, 8:23 GMT

    Imagine how guys like Law, Bevan, David Hussey, Hodge and some of the all time great backup players feel when they couldn't have a full test career... yet they are trying to find a place for Hughes. Still have some awesome bowlers coming through but the batting isnt what it was!

  • on October 17, 2012, 7:58 GMT

    Re Mitchell Starc. Excluding T20's he's bowled 253 balls in first class cricket in England. That's in all of 2 games and hardly constitutes learning to bowl in England with a red ball.As fair as keeping him fresh goes, he also managed to play 10 t20's for Yorkshire before managing in the last 30 days another 10 t20's for Aus/Sydney. Actually you have a guy who is neither fresh or playing any meaningful 1st class cricket and learning his trade. Way to go.

  • on October 17, 2012, 7:52 GMT

    This is all really fiddling at the edges... Watson should be down at 6 after Huss and Punter go with hopefully a couple of good young bats coming through at 3 and 4 in the meantime.

  • JM_RSA on October 17, 2012, 7:07 GMT

    @johnathonjosephs - you must live in a dream land. In what way is Watson better than Kallis or equal to him?

  • stormy16 on October 17, 2012, 6:56 GMT

    Its been a long time since Aus are searching for quality young batters of which there was an abundance in recent past where guys like Law and Lehman couldnt get a game! The Watson delima is an interesting one and surely his success at the top of the order is sufficient to continue with him. If the problem is where to fit Hughes and Warner, surely Watson must be cemented first and the other two fit around. I am yet to be convinced by Hughes, reckon Kawaja has the potential to be the real thing over the others. I think the biggest decision Aus has to make is what is the role Watsons bowling plays as if he continues to bowl and continues to get injured as a result, Watson will not be on the park adding more instability. With the concerns over Punter and Huss retiring and leaving a big hole on the experience front, Watson will be the key batter - he needs to be on the park at all cost.

  • masoodali150 on October 17, 2012, 5:54 GMT

    Best of luck Shane, will be fine to play at No. 4.

  • landl47 on October 17, 2012, 4:00 GMT

    That a guy aged 31 with an average of 37 with 2 centuries in 35 tests should even be considered as 3 or 4 shows the problems Aus has with batting. I've said elsewhere that the young Aussie quicks are the best squad I've seen since the WI in the 1970s, but the batting is another matter. Ponting and Hussey are 37 and no-one is even pushing for their places. Hughes and Khawaja averaged 35 and 34 respectively in English county cricket this year. Warner's form has dropped right away in all formats. Cowan never was and never will be a test player. The only decent prospect on the horizon is Burns. Maybe Punter and Huss will have one more good series, but when they are gone, what then?

  • johnathonjosephs on October 17, 2012, 2:33 GMT

    Given Watson's recent and past form, there is no doubt that he can do well.... if only he can convert those 50s into 100s. It seems like after making a 50, he loses interest and throws his wicket away. Bowling wise, I think Watson is just about on par with Kallis, if not better

  • Meety on October 16, 2012, 22:37 GMT

    @Nick Henderson - the context is AFTER Punter & Hussey retire. @ kensohatter on (October 16 2012, 13:28 PM GMT) - reality is "...Of the three who failed..." - Hughes was statistically the BEST of the three! I would have Hughes back well before S Marsh, - I'd be more inclined to pencil S Marsh in as NEVER to wear to the Baggy Green again.WIth respect to Hughes, he is 6 years younger than Marsh & has shown far more liklihood to score big. I like Ussie, & think that withhin a year or so, he could well be wearing a Baggy Green - hopefully with a bit more support than last time.

  • maddy20 on October 16, 2012, 20:35 GMT

    Needless fiddling with a combination that is working is folly. What on earth were they thinking. If Hughes and Warner open the batting then Watson will be literally opening the innings as these two won't last long!

  • on October 16, 2012, 16:33 GMT

    @Nick Henderson You mean som1 who doesnt look like a tailender when he faces Flintoff or Harmison?

  • Beertjie on October 16, 2012, 16:32 GMT

    I'm with @Nick Henderson and @kensohatter, too. Most of what Invers has said is sound, but this pushing of Hughes and his 'constructive' criticism of Khawaja doesn't gel with me. Just hope he's merely trying to encourage Hughes; otherwise we'll be messing with players futures (and I'm not only thinking of Hughes'!).

  • RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on October 16, 2012, 15:56 GMT

    this is what should be aus' ideal playing xi: Watson(used as a part time boowler), Quiney, Clarke, Hussey, Ponting, Steve Smith, Haddin, Harrris, Starc, Siddle, Lyon

  • on October 16, 2012, 15:32 GMT

    happy birthday to Jack the King one of the greatest of this era

  • Baundele on October 16, 2012, 14:42 GMT

    Nice idea. Because Watson was doing great as an opener, the only way to ruin his game is to force him to the middle order.

  • kensohatter on October 16, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    Im with you Nick... thought the whole Hughes debacle had been put to bed surely we are not considering him for national selection again. Of the three who failed between him Khawaja and Marsh he was by far the worst. Id like to see callum ferguson have a good year.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on October 16, 2012, 12:35 GMT

    It wont make any difference. If the likes of Hughes is the best out there to open, then Watson will still have to come out very early in the innings. If something works, why not keep it? If Inverarity wants to play around with the opening, why didn't he do it earlier with the likes of Wade, like so many Aus. fans were screaming for in the first place? Who's the other opener going to be - 'Switch-hit-and-out Warner'?

  • on October 16, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    Watson could follow Tendulkar, who opens the batting in limited overs cricket but plays at 4 in test cricket and it works great for him

  • on October 16, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    Wait wait wait wait, they're actually considering adding Phil Hughes back into the test squad ?? I understand and like the prospect of Watson batting at 4 but Hughes surely can not be considered !? Would much rather see someone with a secure technique at 3 ...

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  • on October 16, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    Wait wait wait wait, they're actually considering adding Phil Hughes back into the test squad ?? I understand and like the prospect of Watson batting at 4 but Hughes surely can not be considered !? Would much rather see someone with a secure technique at 3 ...

  • on October 16, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    Watson could follow Tendulkar, who opens the batting in limited overs cricket but plays at 4 in test cricket and it works great for him

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on October 16, 2012, 12:35 GMT

    It wont make any difference. If the likes of Hughes is the best out there to open, then Watson will still have to come out very early in the innings. If something works, why not keep it? If Inverarity wants to play around with the opening, why didn't he do it earlier with the likes of Wade, like so many Aus. fans were screaming for in the first place? Who's the other opener going to be - 'Switch-hit-and-out Warner'?

  • kensohatter on October 16, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    Im with you Nick... thought the whole Hughes debacle had been put to bed surely we are not considering him for national selection again. Of the three who failed between him Khawaja and Marsh he was by far the worst. Id like to see callum ferguson have a good year.

  • Baundele on October 16, 2012, 14:42 GMT

    Nice idea. Because Watson was doing great as an opener, the only way to ruin his game is to force him to the middle order.

  • on October 16, 2012, 15:32 GMT

    happy birthday to Jack the King one of the greatest of this era

  • RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on October 16, 2012, 15:56 GMT

    this is what should be aus' ideal playing xi: Watson(used as a part time boowler), Quiney, Clarke, Hussey, Ponting, Steve Smith, Haddin, Harrris, Starc, Siddle, Lyon

  • Beertjie on October 16, 2012, 16:32 GMT

    I'm with @Nick Henderson and @kensohatter, too. Most of what Invers has said is sound, but this pushing of Hughes and his 'constructive' criticism of Khawaja doesn't gel with me. Just hope he's merely trying to encourage Hughes; otherwise we'll be messing with players futures (and I'm not only thinking of Hughes'!).

  • on October 16, 2012, 16:33 GMT

    @Nick Henderson You mean som1 who doesnt look like a tailender when he faces Flintoff or Harmison?

  • maddy20 on October 16, 2012, 20:35 GMT

    Needless fiddling with a combination that is working is folly. What on earth were they thinking. If Hughes and Warner open the batting then Watson will be literally opening the innings as these two won't last long!