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New No.4 Watson wants more bowling

ESPNcricinfo staff

December 8, 2012

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Shane Watson picked up Australia's first wicket on his return, Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, Perth, 1st day, November 30, 2012
Shane Watson bowled only nine overs in each innings at the WACA © Getty Images
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Shane Watson hopes his move to No.4 in the Test batting order will allow him to take on a greater bowling workload. At the WACA last week, in his first match back from a calf injury, Watson sent down nine overs in each innings, and while there was no set limit on the amount he was able to bowl, Watson said he felt the captain Michael Clarke had held him back.

"Mickey Arthur talked to me at the end of the last Test to say the way it was looking, they were going to move me down to four," Watson told reporters on Friday. "It's taken me a few days to get my head around that, but it means I can bowl a few more overs.

"In the last Test match, I know Michael in the second innings was a bit hesitant to bowl me a few times towards the latter part of their innings, just to give me the chance to be as fresh as I could going into bat. The ultimate is to be able to contribute with both bat and ball throughout the whole Test match and not be held back. Batting at four will give me that extra time to freshen up."

Watson will move down the order for Australia's first Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart to accommodate Phillip Hughes at No.3 in what will be one of at least two changes to Australia's side. The selectors must also decide on the make-up of the attack, with Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus having sat out of the Perth match due to niggles after their heavy workload in the previous game in Adelaide.

John Hastings, who played in Perth, won't be part of the side in Hobart but both Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson will be fighting to retain their positions. Clarke said the Australians were yet to decide on what attack would work at Bellerive Oval.

"When somebody doesn't play in a match, it gives someone else an opportunity and that's what has happened," Clarke said of Siddle and Hilfenhaus. "Now we've got to work out what's our best XI."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Meety on (December 10, 2012, 9:50 GMT)

@pom_don on (December 09 2012, 11:57 AM GMT) - oh dear, an English fan wanting to write off Sri Lanka as a "minnow". Well at least Sri Lanka does not have any foreign born cricketers in their side! LOL! Head to head over the last home & away, over 5 tests its 2-1 England, not real impressive against a minnow. It gets worse! Since the 20th centuryrolled around - Sri Lanka & England have played 20 Tests & Englands great record is 7-5 versus Sri Lanka? (BTW - Oz 7-0 in 10 tests in the same period). Nice try! Until England can field a side with 11-English born & bred players, I'll worry about where England is ranked.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (December 10, 2012, 3:53 GMT)

Sorry Popcorn - Mitchell Starc was only ok at the WACA when SOuth Africa got away from us he went at around 8 runs an over. I cant see how anyone can label this outstanding. he got the last 4 wickets when South africa had no value on there wickets. Johnson clearly outbowled him and Starc should be 12th man in Perth.

Posted by Winsome on (December 10, 2012, 3:20 GMT)

Watto is always angsting about something or another, he must drive his teammates nuts. Just watch, if he makes even a half-decent score in the next match, he'll be coming out with the 'oh, perhaps I shouldn't bowl too much.' I think he's saying he should bowl more as he's well aware he's close to being dropped on batting form alone. For the past 2 years, he's averaged in the the 20s.

Posted by whizzer801 on (December 10, 2012, 2:28 GMT)

What is going on with the Aussie selectors. Watson is unfit - watching him against SA was embarrassing - he was obese and slow in the field. And 9 overs in each innings proved he is not fit. Wade - cannot keep. He cost us the 2nd test with his poor keeping and getting out the way he did on 68 in the 3rd test shows he is not a good enough batsmen to compensate for his keeping. Cowan is uncordinated in the field Warner is hit and miss. Lyon has no variation, and Johnson and Starc led an attack that allowed SA to 5-538. And I don't even want to comment on Hastings and Quinney - I have no idea where they found them. And now they look to Hughes. Is state cricket really that poor that this is the best we can do. Moving Clarke and Hussey in the batting order would be a mistake, they are the only two shining lights this year - so leave them as they are, don't rsik ruinging that. If Watson cannot deal with 4, drop him.

Posted by mike_b on (December 10, 2012, 2:20 GMT)

The top 4 of a great team should be the big scorers who're in the habit of hitting the 150s+ that a team can hinge a big total around.That's why we were so strong when Punter etc were in their prime.Clarke is now our big 100 scorer & must bat in the top 4.He has been able to score the 100s at 5 recently because of Huss's form at 6.Keep Huss at 6 until he fades (which will be soon).Clarke to move up to 4 - and towards being remembered as a true great!Watto is not a big 100 scorer at test level - this has been shown.Bat him at 5 where a score of 50 (or maybe just reaching a 100)is either a great support act during a big total or a good rescue mission during an upper order batting collapse.Then let him bowl more & be a true allrounder.He adds balance & options to our bowling attack & is our best utiliser of reverse swing at the 40 over mark. After Huss retires, use no.6 to blood new batting talent.This was how Border,Ponting,the Waughs,Clarke,Martyn,Harvey & many others first started.

Posted by Meety on (December 10, 2012, 1:03 GMT)

@ Busie1979 on (December 09 2012, 02:34 AM GMT) - you are right IF we look at historical averages, Watto's stats are comparable with & better than some great allrounders. However averages do not always tell the full story particularly with bowling. At one point after his last wicket, I think Warner had a batting ave of around 45 & bowling ave of 30, yet no-one would really describe his leggies as being anything more than useful part time. The problem with Watto is in his wickets per match ratio, it is about 1.7, which IMO is nowhere near good enough to be classified as a genuine 5th option. He averages 17 overs a match, (of good bowling), but the quantity is really only an advantage, if he was averaging 45+ (which I think he is good enuff to do). I consider Watto about 40% of a specialist test bowler at the moment, (100% in ODIs), & with his overall batting ave in the mid 30s, barely 75% of a Test batsmen. I would EXPECT this to change after the SL series - if NOT, he has to go!

Posted by bobagorof on (December 10, 2012, 0:03 GMT)

I am totally over this 'Clarke should bat at 3/4' tripe. Steve Waugh batted at 5 for most of his career, including when he was Captain. Allan Border also batted in the middle order as Captain. Clarke has been most successful at 5. That's what's best for the team.

Posted by pom_don on (December 9, 2012, 11:57 GMT)

@RandyOZ, I am enjoying watching the 'minnows' it's really rather good.....what is the match up for Aus v SL then do I refer to it as the 'mini minnows' seeing how Aus is ranked below England & SL below India or are they top of a lower division?

Posted by Mary_786 on (December 9, 2012, 10:38 GMT)

@skhh agree with you mate, Khawaja should have been a must allowing Watson to stay at 3 if required as he is a better player of fast bowling. Khawaja has to be the standout choice at numer 3. Personally i would keep watto in the top 3 and Khawaja at 4 if required. If you look at the games Khawaja has played compared to Hughes there will be a marked difference in runs scored of the teams in those matches. Khawaja has played on at least 4 green tops this year including a game where he scored 1 and a half times the entire opposition in one inngs, whereas Adelaide is the best place to bat in the country. English fans will be hoping we don't pick Khawaja as he is one of the few youngsters who can handle the moving ball in England.

Posted by eyballfallenout on (December 9, 2012, 7:36 GMT)

Not sure about the top 3 looks average at the moment, but i would have clarke at4 hus at 5 wato at 6, then stark, sidle, hilf, lyon for hobart

but when all fit, stark, cummins, Paterson will be a great bowling attack for aus in the future, also j bird

Posted by Narbavi on (December 9, 2012, 7:13 GMT)

@RandyOZ: no wonder u didnt watch the tests, the crowds have been excellent!!

Posted by BlastFromThePast on (December 9, 2012, 5:42 GMT)

Not too sure whether pushing Watson further down the order is such a wise move,always he has been a nervy starter against slow bowling and with the Sri Lankans one can always bet that by the time he comes on the spinners would be set. that would only make life more difficult for him. Coming of the back of a demoralizing series defeat against the South Africans, Australia it seems are still struggling to set their priorities straight. while as for the other I think that definitely Starc should be a part of the starting XI ahead of all the other bowlers, also knowing that a top order collapse is just inevitable his batting skills should also be considered, which at the moment stands miles ahead of any other middle or lower middle order batsman.

Posted by OneEyedAussie on (December 9, 2012, 3:03 GMT)

Watson has played enough games now for his average to be indicative of his place in the order - and the fact is his average is too low for the top 4.

Posted by popcorn on (December 9, 2012, 2:52 GMT)

Mitchell Starc was OUTSTANDING at the WACA. So was Mitchell Johnson.I wish Hilfenhaus had played at the WACA instead of John Hastings who hit the wall. He was useless.Hilfy was not as tired as Siddle, who was rightly rested for the WACA Test.Starc or Johnson would have been better options at Adelaide instead of Hilfenhaus.All this is hindsight, but hindsight tells us we should select HORSES FOR COURSES.So for the Hobart Test,Hilfenhaus is a Tassie boy, and knows the pitch well,should be selected. I would suggest Starc, Johnson,Hilfenhaus and Lyon as the 3 quicks and one spinner.Rest Peter Siddle for the Boxing Day Test on his home ground,MCG.Then there's Ryan Harris who's fit - we could see the performance of these bowlers in the first two Tests, and decide to select Ryan Harris or rest him for the India Tour.Shane Watson at Number 4 is the RIGHT position to use his All Rounder skills. For Australia's sake, I hope Phil Hughes does well at Hobart. This is his LAST CHANCE SALOON.Sic.

Posted by Busie1979 on (December 9, 2012, 2:34 GMT)

Test Cricket only - I think you're forgetting how hard it is to be an all-rounder. Compare Watson's career stats with other all rounders, and he's pretty good. My reference point is all-rounders since the mid-80s. If you take batting ave minus bowling ave - from what I can tell, the only genuine all rounders who have outperformed Watson in this period is Kallis (+24) and Imran Khan (+15), with Shaun Pollock equal third (+9). The problem with Watson is that he's been playing the wrong role. He should be batting down the order. Number 4 is too high. I think Watson's strength is not to get big hundreds but quick 50s, which is exactly what you need batting with the tail. He should bat at 6 or 7 and bowl more. He is possibly a better bowler than batsman and he could influence more games that way. As an opening batsman, an average of 37 is a failure. As a batsman who is an all-rounder, an average of 37 is a pretty good return.

Posted by ozwriter on (December 9, 2012, 1:43 GMT)

hughes may well be a good player in 5 years, but at the moment he is a liability and he should not have been picked. Seems like they are spoon feeding Hughes. Not a good idea.

Posted by Moppa on (December 9, 2012, 1:16 GMT)

Gilly4ever is right that Watson has generally batted 4 (or even 3) in state cricket, so its not right that he CAN'T bat there. It is true that he has not fully delivered in Test cricket, but I see this as a great opportunity for Watson to translate his match-winning innings from ODIs to Test cricket. Having said that, I can see the merits of 4. Clarke, 5. Hussey, 6. Watson (other than it involves moving the only batsmen consistently performing). @TEST_MATCH_ONLY, it is too strong to say Watson is not in Aust's best 12 batsmen! Sadly, he is about par for Australian Test batsmen in recent years! Looking at the post Warne/McGrath era only, min 20 innings, Aust batsmen go: Symonds, Clarke (55), Katich, Hussey (44), Warner (42), Ponting (40), Watson (38), Haddin, Hayden, North, Hughes (34), not forgetting that he missed the chance to cash in on the Indian popgun attack in Australia last summer.

Posted by RandyOZ on (December 8, 2012, 21:54 GMT)

Hurry up Aus v SL series. This battle of the minnows in India is incredibly boring to watch. Two average teams slogging it out on dead pitches. No wonder the crowds arent there.

Posted by wix99 on (December 8, 2012, 20:54 GMT)

Clarke should really move up to No. 4. He is the captain and he is in superb form. He really needs to take more responsibility. Watson should go to No. 6 with Hussey at No. 5.

Posted by bumsonseats on (December 8, 2012, 19:25 GMT)

i thought it was his bowling that caused the injuries not his batting. moving from opener to 4 is not going to harm the poor dear. chocolate fireguard come to mind

Posted by Beertjie on (December 8, 2012, 14:42 GMT)

Imo the NSP are planning to have two semi all-rounders playing together in the future: Watson and Maxwell. Reminds me of the bad old days of mid-eighties!

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 8, 2012, 11:17 GMT)

@vrn59, I fully agree with you. Our batting clicking is more likely and being able to draw is an achievement. But I doubt if our bowling can have any impact. If Aussies lead 2-0 by the time it is the 3rd test and say if the SCG spins, I still cant imagine us fighting to win a 3rd test in history after being 2-0 down. Angelo hopefully will spring surprises with the bat in the tests. I feel we will do well in the ODIs looking at the fact that we have won 6 out of the 10 last ODIs we have played against Aussies in Australia from late 2010 onwards.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 8, 2012, 11:17 GMT)

If you want to see a real bowler in action, look no further than the world's fastest bowler Steven Finn, who partners the world's most skillful bowler in Anderson, both of whom are running riot on flat pitches against flat-pitch specialist batsmen in India.

Posted by vithur1507 on (December 8, 2012, 11:11 GMT)

My playing 11 would be for Aus 1.Warner 2. Cowan 3. Hughes 4 Clarke 5. Watson 6. Hussey 7. Haddin 8.Starc 9.Siddle 10. Johnson 11.Hilfenhaus


1.Dilshan 2. Kunaratne,3. Chandimal . 4.Sangakkara 5. Jayawardane 6. Samaraweera 7. Mathews 8. Kulasekara 9. Herath 10.Weelagedara 11.Eranga

Posted by Narbavi on (December 8, 2012, 11:04 GMT)

Wants to bowl more and wants time to freshen up, then he should better bat at no.6 so that an in form clarke can bat up at no.4 with hussey in at 5!!

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (December 8, 2012, 9:18 GMT)

This is more proof that dropping Hughes in 2009 was a bed decision. Watson should never had been opener. He really should go to 5 with Clarke at 4. However, the time he's has as opener would benefit if some quick wickets fall and with a second new ball.

Posted by TEST_CRICKET_ONLY on (December 8, 2012, 8:11 GMT)

I am not so sure Watson even deserves to be in our best 12. Frankly, his batting sucks, with an average of 36 and 2 tons and 18 fifties. That simply isn't enough for an opener or No 3 or 4. Keith Miller was our greatest allrounder, and he averaged 36 with the bat, batting further down the order, and his bowling average was 22, compared to Watson's 29. Such comparisons would indicate that Watson has a long way to go to be regarded as a great allrounder.

Posted by vrn59 on (December 8, 2012, 6:06 GMT)

My SL XI: Paranavitana / Karunaratne, Dilshan, Sangakkara, M Jayawardene (C), Samaraweera, Mathews, P Jayawardene (W), Kulasekara, Herath, Pradeep, Welegedara. SL's batting will have to click; it is their bowling that will stop them from winning though.

My AUS XI: Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Watson, Clarke (C), M Hussey, Wade (W), Johnson / Hilfenhaus, Siddle, Starc, Lyon. The bowling attack looks miles better. Clarke and Hussey are both in fabulous form, and both the openers are also in decent nick. Hughes will want to prove himself as a worthy replacement for Ponting, and Watson will want to solidify his position at No. 4 in the Test side, along with his bowling duties.

Unless SL's batsmen force one or two draws, I predict that AUS will whitewash this series. Their batsmen are familiar with the conditions, and will be facing one of the poorest bowling attacks in Test cricket today. Their bowlers are good enough to account for SL's batting lineup.

Posted by A_Vacant_Slip on (December 8, 2012, 4:06 GMT)

Watson want more bowling eh? Well - he won't get much batting at number 4. Only short stay at the crease for him. Not to worry - he will get plenty of bowling against Cook, Trott, KP, Prior and friend in a few month time. Hour after hour after he will get plenty of bowling.....

Posted by   on (December 8, 2012, 3:50 GMT)

i have a feeling this is going to be the worst top 3 since brathwaite , Bharat & Powell in the Sir frank earlier this year

Posted by Biggus on (December 8, 2012, 2:49 GMT)

If he really wants to bowl more he should drop to 6 or 7.

Posted by skkh on (December 8, 2012, 2:39 GMT)

Watson has never done justice to his talent and I am afraid he will never do. He is a batsman who was content with 50's and now with the drop from opening the innings he is content with 20's. That is his potential. About bowling the less said the better. Regarding Hughes, there never was a doubt of his potential but he was found wanting in technique which was exploited by one and all. Shielding him against Steyn and company and bringing him against the soft Sri Lankan pace bowling is bewildering. Is this the right way to prepare him for Ashes wherein the Poms will exploit his weakness again ? It would have been better to test him against Styen and company and see if he has addressed his defective technique. I am afraid this is a mistake done all over again and Khawaja has been ignored once again.

Posted by   on (December 8, 2012, 2:19 GMT)

It's crazy that Australia's most in-form batsman refuses to bat at 4. If not Clarke, then at least Mike Hussey should move to 4, so that Watson can bat at 6, and bowl a lot more overs, because at a batting avg of 37 in test cricket, he hasn't earned his place on batting alone.

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 8, 2012, 1:36 GMT)

Also Watto, I recall how you helped Pakistan end the hoodoo of not beating Australia in a test match for 15 years. You played your part in it by dropping Imran Farhat's catch at Headingley when he was on 4. Had you taken that catch, Aussies would have been big winners in that test match. You bowling a lot as shown in this link would have affected your fielding. Better just stick to batting and act as a part time bowler with an aim of breaking a partnership.

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 8, 2012, 1:20 GMT)

Lesser Watson bowls, the better he comes out with the bat. Also with him being injury prone, he better manage his bowling workload wisely. For a man who debuted back in 2002, he has not played enough tests and ODIs all due to his injury marred career.

Posted by Bishop on (December 8, 2012, 1:06 GMT)

Why oh why is Watson not batting at 6? He would be perfect...he has the ability to play a measured innings in a crisis, or hit out if Australia are on top. And it would leave him the ability to bowl more overs. Michael Clarke needs to man up and move into the top order. Hussey is a perfect number 5, and is somewhat underutilised at 6. It seems so obvious...what am I missing?

Posted by Wefinishthis on (December 8, 2012, 0:20 GMT)

Watson's not a good enough batsman to bat at 4. He should be at 1 where he's had at least some prior success, at 6 or out of the team completely because people seem reluctant to face the fact that he is not a very good batsman. You wonder why our top order collapses so much? Look at the averages of the top 3. Cowan and Watson both average about 35 and Warner is about 42. That's simply not good enough to compete with Cook, Trott, Amla, Smith etc who are all around 50 and it's therefore really no surprise that they pile on the runs game after game and why India are currently getting hammered in their own backyard. The 11 we should have: Burns, Warner, Hughes, Hussey, Clarke, Watson/Khawaja, Nevill/Wade, Faulkner/Cummins, Pattinson, Bird(Harris when fit), Lyon/SOK. I admit that stats can sometime be deceiving since they don't take into account opposition or conditions, but cricket is all about stats as there's almost always a correlation between good stats and success.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (December 8, 2012, 0:16 GMT)

Starc and Johnson were a lot better than Siddle and Hilfenhaus. It should be those two plus one of Siddle or Hilfenhaus. I think probably Hilfenhaus because the conditions will suit him better. There could be a thought to leave Johnson out because conditions won't suit him but he bowled and fielded really well so that would be silly. Starc was magnificent so there should be no consideration of dropping him. Watson bats at 4 in first class cricket, and always has, so I am happy with him batting there. Just so long as they don't push him down to 6, 7 or 8 like some people suggest. Watson's bowling should be carefully monitored and I thought that 9 overs per innings was the right amount in his first test back from injury.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 8, 2012, 0:01 GMT)

Watson at No. 4 looks good for many reasons, not least of which is that if two quick wickets fall, which has often been the case due to the rebuilding, Watto at 4 is a reassuring proposition.

Posted by PFEL on (December 7, 2012, 23:59 GMT)

He shouldn't move to no. 4, he should move to no. 6 or 7. He's right that he should bowl more, he's not even close to being one of the best 6 TEST batsmen in Australia. Despite him being one of the most valuable batsmen in shorter forms, in Test matches his bowling is of greater value than his batting, IMO, and as such he should bat down the order to allow as much bowling as possible.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (December 7, 2012, 23:30 GMT)

Pretty unfair to force bowlers to "rest" and then in the following Test not pick them. Why would any bowler agree to rotation if it means losing there spot? As for Watto, bat him at 6, his bowling is very good, he can face the 2nd new ball, and bat as an enforcer at 6.

Posted by tpjpower on (December 7, 2012, 23:02 GMT)

Watson needs to keep himself on the park for consecutive Tests before he starts talking up an increased workload. As for this - "Batting at four will give me that extra time to freshen up" - with Warner and Hughes in the top three, he could find himself in the middle with very little time to freshen up.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2012, 22:47 GMT)

crazy times... does he realise that batting at number 4 in the current aus lineup still means he will be at the crease within 10-20 overs!!

Posted by   on (December 7, 2012, 22:41 GMT)

I really don't see why batting one down the order should make ANY difference whatsoever! He will always have something that goes wrong, it seems like he is just injury prone.

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