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Watson's Test recall not guaranteed

Brydon Coverdale

February 5, 2013

Comments: 54 | Text size: A | A

Shane Watson with his Twenty20 International Player of the Year award, Melbourne, February 4, 2013
Shane Watson is no longer the big fish in a small pond of allrounders © Getty Images
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Michael Clarke has warned his vice-captain Shane Watson that he faces much stiffer competition for a place in Australia's Test team by choosing to play as a batsman rather than an allrounder.

Watson will return to international cricket in Wednesday's ODI against West Indies in Canberra, ahead of the four-Test tour of India, having spent a month out of the game due to a calf injury that he aggravated during the Boxing Day Test.

For the time being Watson has decided not to bowl, as it has typically been bowling that has caused his many injury problems over the years. He is desperate to enjoy a sustained run in the national team instead of constantly battling niggles. Although he hopes to be in a position to start bowling again ahead of this year's Ashes tour, Watson will for the time being need to justify his place as a batsman only.

"I don't think anybody walks into the Australian cricket team. It's about performance, and the strength of Shane is that he's performed over a period of time, in all three forms of the game," Clarke said. "He's vice-captain of the team and it will be great to have Watto back.

"As I've said to Watto, while he's not bowling he goes into a much bigger pool of players ... the pool of batsmen is much bigger than the pool of allrounders in Australian cricket at the moment. But Shane knows if he's at his best, he's as good as any player in the world, let alone in the Australian team. Our goal as a team is to help Watto get back to his best."

On Monday night in Melbourne, Watson was named the Twenty20 International Player of the Year at the Allan Border Medal ceremony, no surprise given his dominance with bat and ball at the World T20 in Sri Lanka last year. But it has also been an injury-plagued pair of summers for Watson, who missed all of the 2011-12 home Tests with calf and hamstring problems and managed only three of the six played this season.

His position in the batting order has also been variable: in November 2011 he was opening on the tour of South Africa, then he filled the No.3 spot for most of his appearances last year before slipping down into the No.4 space vacated by Ricky Ponting in December. Watson has spoken of his desire to return to the opening position in Test cricket at some point but he is aware that he needs to be happy with any spot available for him as a batsman only.

"At this point in time it is purely as a batsman and wherever I fit in," Watson said of his role in the Test side. "It's been something that I've been thinking about for a long period of time, especially over the last 12 months, when things haven't gone exactly to plan with my body. Hopefully I can just get some continuity with my batting over the next few months and then slowly build into getting some bowling under my belt.

"The perfect world for me would be making sure I'm able to bowl and contribute with the ball during the Ashes. I know that's looking a long way forward, but even just physically to be able to give myself a chance to get to that is a dream for me at the moment."

Over the course of Watson's career, he has played 38 Tests of a possible 89, the majority having been missed through injury, and his main goal now is to allow himself to pursue a period of stability. That begins with the remaining three ODIs against West Indies, his first matches back at the elite level after returning via grade cricket and a Ryobi Cup match for New South Wales last week.

"One of the hardest things about being injured is coming back and trying to find form as quick as you possibly can," Watson said. "Hopefully I can do that over the next couple of weeks leading into the Indian Test series. Then we'll see how things evolve from there. But I'm certainly not getting in front of myself because I know how quickly it can change.

"The times when I've had the most success playing for Australia has been when I've been able to play games back to back. That's been one of the most frustrating things about the past 12 months, it seems like a lot of the times when I've been playing I've been coming back from injury, which makes it difficult to be able to build some momentum and find some form and hold some form, which I've been able to do in the past."

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

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Posted by landl47 on (February 7, 2013, 5:27 GMT)

Maybe Michael Clarke is right and at his best Watson is as good as any player in the world, but with two centuries from 69 test innings, he isn't at his best in tests very often. The problem with selecting him as an opener is that Australia then has a gap at #6. Mad Max doesn't look like a top 6 batsman yet, Wade would be better left at #7 and Henriques is a bowling allrounder and even #7 is a stretch. Steve Smith (whom I have defended in these forums) might be up to it, but he hasn't been consistent yet.

If Watson is going to play as an opener, why is Cowan there at all? Cowan's strength is taking the shine off the new ball. Playing him in the middle order in India, where the ball will be turning by the time he gets in, would be wildly optimistic rather than sensible. I suspect the order will be Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Watson, Clarke, Khawaja, Wade- for the first test, at least. After that, evaluation will be based on results.

Posted by vrn59 on (February 6, 2013, 21:48 GMT)

My Test XIs' for Australia's tour of India: AUS: David Warner, Shane Watson, Phillip Hughes, Michael Clarke (C), Usman Khawaja, Matthew Wade (wk), George Bailey (who would bat above No. 6) / Glenn Maxwell / Moises Henriques, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc / Xavier Doherty (based on which all rounder is selected at No. 7), Nathan Lyon. IND: Gautam Gambhir / Ajinkya Rahane, Virender Sehwag, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma (maybe Manoj Tiwary), MS Dhoni (C&wk), Harbhajan Singh, R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav.

Posted by Baundele on (February 6, 2013, 19:53 GMT)

Watson should play as an opener. Full stop. Do not reinvent the wheel. Questioning about his inclusion in the playing XI is ridiculous. He is special and he must be treated in that way.

Posted by bumsonseats on (February 6, 2013, 14:35 GMT)

im not sure why not, maybe not in the top 3 but how people can still write that hes not cemented a place in the team is nonsense.

Posted by Chris_P on (February 6, 2013, 12:07 GMT)

@Meety. At full strength, he is behind 7 guys at Western Australia alone! One dayers he is in the mix, but tests? He needs to get a bucketload of runs in the shield & I mean an absolute bucketload, something he has failed to do for over 10 seasons already. What is it with his supporters?

Posted by Meety on (February 6, 2013, 9:02 GMT)

@Chris_P on (February 6, 2013, 8:21 GMT) - I am happy S Marsh got some runs v QLD, but gee whiz it doesn't take many runs from him & his legion of fans come out of the woodwork! I couldn't justify S Marsh in any Test side for a year (after strong Shield form), a maybe for the ODI side, but personally think he is behind 6 or 7 others in that format!

Posted by Chris_P on (February 6, 2013, 8:21 GMT)

@Lewis_Edwards. You mean the same Shaun Marsh who has scored 152 runs this season @19? What we need to do is select batsman who are in form thank you very much, Shaun Marsh isn't even scoring runs in Perth grade. Steve Smith, fyi, has scored 363 @ 40 this season & you still think Marsh deserves a gig before him? And let's bot forget Smith is way ahead of him in his career average. Khawaia is one person who is in form & selected, but why not Doolan, easily yhe most in form batsman in the Shield? Try looking up current stats, we all have our favourites, but let's llok at this with an unbiased view.

Posted by Someguy on (February 6, 2013, 7:09 GMT)

@Lewis_Edwards - Marsh has a hell of a lot of talent, but no form to speak of. He wont get anywhere near the test team until he can start putting runs on the board. I personally would have Ferguson in the squad. He is a proven performer at international level (outstanding form in ODI's before his injury) and is one of the leading batsmen in shield cricket this year.

Posted by Big_Maxy_Walker on (February 6, 2013, 6:23 GMT)

i would never pick cowan again, hes had his chance more than 10 tests is enough to prove what u can do. Plus ed cant play spin, i dont like clarke undermining his deputy, maybe theres some jealousy or nervousness there with all the attention watson gets. my team for india would be warner, watson, hughes, clarke, khawaja, bailey, wade, starc, siddle, bird, lyon

Posted by Meety on (February 6, 2013, 5:05 GMT)

Ahh gotta love cricket! I more or less said "what sort of form will Watto gain out of playing in an ODI v a Shield match?" - the answer appears to be FORM!!!! Can't buy a run domestically, but now he is slaying them atm! Always said he was a great batsmen (cough/choke)! LOL!

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (February 6, 2013, 5:04 GMT)

For me the best 2 young batsman in the country are Shaun Marsh and Khawaja, both have to be in our lineup for the ashes. Get Cowan out and we will get this balance. I still can't believe in a country that is crying out for batsmen (especially after the retirement of Hussey) we didn't give an opportunity to Khawaja for that SCG Test. We have fast bowlers growing on trees atm, but we need to start looking for the batting lineup that will get us back to number 1 in the world. That was the perfect opportunity but because the selectors had made a blue in resting Starc (and the reserves that came in couldn't be dropped either) they took the easy way out and played the 5 bowlers. For India they have got Khawaja in which is great but where is Marsh, he is miles ahead of Steve Smith. I think we need to get Darren Lehman into the Australian setup asap (though that takes him away from the Bulls). Best coach in the country

Posted by crh8971 on (February 6, 2013, 1:17 GMT)

Like some others I don't understand why Watson is playing in relatively meaningless ODI's against the West Indies rather than playing an FC match against Tassie or even being sent with the early contingent to India to play the lead in game. If he is serious about tests I would like to see him at some stage play 4 or 5 4 day games for NSW on the trot and string some solid innings together. Because of his role in all formats he never seems to do this. Whilst I agree that he is talented there is just no way that a test batting average of 26 over a 2 year period should make him an automatic selection. Cowan is obviously the incumbent under the most pressure. If he doesn't make it my tendency would be to promote Hughes to open with Warner. In the longer run I believe that the top four could be Warner, Hughes, Kawahja and Clarke. 5 & 6 would then need to be selected from a group that includes Watson and a few others. I would like to see Doolan given a chance.

Posted by L4zybugg3r on (February 6, 2013, 0:30 GMT)

@Chris_P - totally agree, Watson as a batsman only hardly seems worth it. If the selectors are doing the right thing this batsman only move should really spell the end of his test career but somehow I think that it won't...

Posted by Meety on (February 6, 2013, 0:07 GMT)

On a different matter, assuming Watto is a no-go with bowling. What happens if on Day 5, India are 7/300 off 130 overs (needing another 50 runs to win), Oz bowlers are exhausted in stifling heat & Pup looks over to his VC? Does Wato's no-bowling mean he won't have a crack?

Posted by Meety on (February 5, 2013, 23:52 GMT)

@ Shaggy076 on (February 5, 2013, 10:23 GMT) - I'd like to put to you, that whilst Watto's last Test innings was 80, have a look at his performances leading up to it. IMO - the 80 proved that with some time at the crease - he would eventually start to score runs. However, the lead up to the 80 runs was (IMO), proof that he needs time to be up to Test standard. The WACA was case in point, out injured & thrust back into the Test team & he looked out of his depth. He got better against the Lankans but from memory I think Watto was dropped early in his 80. He looked to me, like he was reasy to start dominating but was then injured - back to square one in my books, which means he should of been playing for NSW today NOT in an ODI, & should play the tour game in India too! (Even if that means he gets subbed out early of the Shield game).

Posted by MinusZero on (February 5, 2013, 22:54 GMT)

I am glad sense has finally been seen. Although Clarke said "I don't think anybody walks into the Australian cricket team. It's about performance..." Since when is this the case? How many times have underperforming players just come back in as a matter of course.

Returning players should have to prove themselves before coming back into the sides. Watson couldnt even get runs in grade cricket. CA pay him so much that there is no chance he wont be selected.

Watson has the gold selection card no matter how he plays...lets face it, his test batting average over the last two years (26.40) does not reek of a form player who deserves selection. And no banging on about how good his FC and test opening average is, you are just as bad as the selectors. Teams should be picked on current form NOT history.

Watson should consider test retirement, he isnt a great test player, but he is a great short form player. He is just blocking the way for the future of Australia's test batting line up

Posted by Beertjie on (February 5, 2013, 22:50 GMT)

I'm praying for Watto to return to being an all-rounder (10 overs per day max.) in time for the Ashes. Otherwise we're done for. There's no one else that can perform which is why we'll lose the Indian series. Good comments @hycIass on (February 5, 2013, 3:23 GMT), but we'll lose the Ashes without experienced guys and Maxwell, Smith, Henriques will not cut it in India nor in England. Taking Ferguson or Doolan to England would be risky. They would do better as part of the A-team understudying the Ashes squad.That leaves Rogers as the only option. The only way for this to happen is if we lose in India with those 'all rounders' all failing miserably. Then Watto the all-rounder (limited to 10 overs per day) can become part of a squad that might square the series: Rogers, Warner, Hughes, Clarke, Khawaja, Watson, Paine, Starc, Pattinson, Siddle, Harris, Bird, Lyon, Wade, Faulkner, O'Keefe/Holland.

Posted by Moppa on (February 5, 2013, 21:36 GMT)

@sando31, surely it's up to the selectors to determine when he's ready and deserving to come back into the team, not an issue of Watson's humility or otherwise. @hycIass, I hope you're right about the change of physios, I've come to the view that the missing link in Watson's game is purely fitness (I guess that's what @hyclass has been saying for a while) - and in that vein, not wishing ill on him, but the best outcome for Australian cricket might be another minor strain for Watson and he misses the Indian tour. This would allow him to have a meaningful pre-season for the Ashes, drop a few kilos and build up his leg and core muscles. One of the reasons Clarke has been converting his starts into big big hundreds is his fitness - perhaps a short break from the game and a serious training regime could transform Watson's game?

Posted by Surajdon9 on (February 5, 2013, 20:43 GMT)

Watto and Clarke need to bury the hatchet and work together as leaders to build a better team. Captains and Vice captains need to share ideas and work together not fire warnings at each other. Watto scored 83 in his last test at number 4 . He should be in the test team and form part of the back bone of the team.

Posted by Surajdon9 on (February 5, 2013, 20:41 GMT)

In India we need Watto as opener, while he is on reduced bowling, he opens, Clarke bats 4, and Khawaja 5.Hopefully after 4-9 tests, Ussie has cemented his place and moves up to the top 3, with Warner and Hughes. Watto then resumes bowling, when needed, and bats at 6.In all of this we need another middle order bat, a spot that's wide open, though not for Steve Smith and not for Bailey as Ferguson is far ahead of him. This is predicated on the assumption that withint he next 6 months, Watson will resume normal bowling duties. I sort of understand, from the inside, that he's moved physios/trainers, and they've identified glaring physical weaknesses that are contributing to the injuries. Watto wants to build these areas up (legs, core etc) before resuming bowling more, which is sensible.I think an Aussie test team with Watto batting at 6 and a genune 5th bowling option is looking stronger. With Clarke at 4/5, we then just need to sort out the top 3.

Posted by Clarkey329 on (February 5, 2013, 20:34 GMT)

Watto I think should maybe stay at 4, replacement for Ponting in the batting order, wasn't he? If he isn't converting his 50s into 100s then when he becomes a genuine all-rounder again drop him down to 6. Bring Khawaja into the top 4 if Clarke remains at 5. If Cowan wasn't performing then drop him and Watson open with Warner or bat 3 and have Hughes open. If Watson is playing in the ashes as an all-rounder then my top 7 would be Warner Watson Hughes Khawaja Clarke Smith Wade

Posted by Ashu123 on (February 5, 2013, 17:17 GMT)

I do not understand why people want Watson to bowl so much. Sure he is a decent bowler can pick up a couple of handy wickets but is it worth it if his career gets shortened. Him playing only 38 test matches out of 89 matches is staggering. I think Watson is a walk in to the top six at the moment and I also think he should open. He plays his best when he opens and I do not think he will do as well coming down lower down the order.

Posted by xxxxxxxxxxxxxyyyyyyyyyyyyyyzzzzzzzz on (February 5, 2013, 12:18 GMT)

With lots of cricket and 3 different formats I am not surprised that a lot of all-rounders are injury-prone. When Watson was only bowling a maximum of 10 overs a day under Ponting he seemed to remain relatively injury-free, but even then it seemed as if it would only be matter of time before he was off the park again.

At a key moment in a test, do you limit his overs or bowl him and go for the win? My instincts are with Clarke - go for the win. That's what Aus cricket has always been about.

Watson has the talent and experience to nail down the number 4 spot without bowling and without the frustration of constant injury.

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 5, 2013, 11:55 GMT)

I agree with Clarke. .. Watson's value to Australia in Tests has been as an all-rounder. You can get away with scoring lots of attractive 50's but very few hundreds when you can also bowl 15 overs or so of pretty damn good medium pace. If you take away the bowling then ALL of the focus has to be on the batting doesn't it? .. "Watto old son, if you ain't gunna bowl, you had better do some decent batting to stay in this team" is nothing less than I would expect from a responsible management unit.

Posted by sando31 on (February 5, 2013, 11:03 GMT)

I think Watto needs to gain a little bit of humility, he cannot just leave the national team and expect to come back as a pure batsman without any recent state or international form behind him. At his best watto is a tremendous talent and easily deserving of a place in the top 6, however he needs to learn how to become more consistent and to also convert his solid starts into large scores. Our bowlers look world beaters however our batsmen need to assist clarke and share the load, we need all the runs we can get in both england and india, two difficult places to tour.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (February 5, 2013, 10:51 GMT)

@hyclass i like your thinking, having Khawaja in the top 4 is the way to go and yes i can see Watto at 6 once he starts to bowl(in the ashes). However i am not sure if i would go for Ferguson as Vogues would be ahead of him in my books. I would like to see this batting lineup in the ashes: Hughes, Warner, Khawaja, Clarke, Vogues, Watto, Wade.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 5, 2013, 10:23 GMT)

For a 2 year period between 2009-11, Watson was the best opening batsman in the world in all 3 formats. Yes he struggled to make tons but he also averaged around 50 during that time which I would take any day.I cant see Cowan ever being this type of player and reckon Watson should go back to opening, and when he is ready to bowl we cant bowl him more than 10 overs in a day. He made 80 in his last test and on that form shouldnt be dropped so get him back in there. As for the one-day side his record speaks for itself and he should be an automatic selection if fit.

Posted by Doonish on (February 5, 2013, 9:39 GMT)

Those talking up D Hussey need to look at his first class average this year.

Agree with many posters - no way has Watson earned a call-up as a batsman only.

Posted by class9ryan on (February 5, 2013, 9:27 GMT)

Clarke is right here and the truth is whenever Watson in his full flow he can win u match with either bat or bowl ... Playing him as a pure batsman can be problems for Australia in India ... In Tests, Watson and Warner can make a good pair ... Not sure about the batting of Cowan against spinners but I would have loved an all rounder Watson 2 open ... My Aussie side would be - Watto, Warner, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Doolan, Wade, starc, siddle, hilfy, lyon at least for the next 6-7 months ... Cant get why Doolan is not in the squad to India ?

Posted by jack_thomas25 on (February 5, 2013, 8:41 GMT)

my advice to watson: now clarke warns u abt ur place in the team.. so what? just dont care about that kid clarke.. n dont listen if he tells u to play in any other way(defensive approach) other than ur natural batting. always play ur natural(dominating) style. u just dont care abt ur place. even if he doent select u with his politics, just dont care. whenever u get the opportunity to play,,,just have fun with ur batting. we all know how dominant u r with ur batting. when u r carefree n worry about nothing,, only then u can be ur best. if u worry abt something (like for eg. clarke politics, ur place in the team,..etc..), u'll fail.. u r +ve. clarke is -ve. so, dont care abt anything or him. listen to ur heart only. just be a man u are. u have great gift of immense talent which can only come out with right attitude. have fun. u'll be back to ur best. nobody can stop u. HAVE FUN.........

Posted by Gordo85 on (February 5, 2013, 8:28 GMT)

The main problem is he doesn't go on often enough to make big scores like hundreds. So basicly he has the same problem that Phil Hughes has got and that is not kicking on to make bigger scores than an 80. I find it funny you know everyone was saying how Hughes is the next Bradman but if he was he would kick on and make big scores not just 80s. Having said that he is doing well in the ODI's so he is proberly the closest to Bradman in the ODI team but not Tests.

Posted by Chris_P on (February 5, 2013, 8:26 GMT)

I have been a long time supporter of Watson, the allrounder and still backed him from the early days when he was dogged with injuries. But guys, seriously, he has averaged less than 30 for the past 3 years. Help me understand how this justifies a call up as a batsman only? With his bowling, I could live with his form being down, because he gave back so much, but now? Ask yourselves, do you feel happy that a guy who is averaging less than 30 over the past 3 year period, and is no form currently will be going into our test side?

Posted by Ducky610 on (February 5, 2013, 7:14 GMT)

@goldeneraaus while I agree these subpar allrounders that keep cropping up instead of actual batsman is silly... Comparing Forrest to Doolan doesn't work. Doolan averages nearly 10 runs more than Forrest over his whole carrier, not just this season, and only slightly less than khawaja; he should be in the test squad as a back up rather than smith or maxwell with khawaja given the opportunity at 5 to cement a spot... If Doolan performs next season I would then give him that same opportunity and hopefully put khawaja to 3 and hughes to open...

Posted by Sachit1979 on (February 5, 2013, 7:06 GMT)

Watson as a batsman would be more than needed for tests in tour India. Cowan, Hughes, Wade, Khawaja, all of them would be playing tests in India for first time and they may struggle against Ashwin and/or Bhajji. Clarke also did not have very great experiences in tests played over India soil in the past so they definitely need Watson's aggression and experience. Moreover I would have preferred Chris Rogers, David Hussey and Tim Paine too in this line up.

Posted by ravi_hari on (February 5, 2013, 7:04 GMT)

I cant imagine Watson's state of mind. As he is preparing to make a comeback his captain says his place is not gauranteed! It might have taken Watson by surprise. The reason for this - Australia has been struggling to find a replacement for Ponting and now Hussey is also not there. How can Clarke make a statement against the only other player in the team who can complement or supplement his abilities. Till now Hussey was the mate Clarke would depend upon in crisis, now who will he turn to? Watson fits the bill perfectly. Clarke doesn't seem to agree. Watson, I think is the future captain of Australia and he needs to be groomed into that role. Clarke must be joking when saying a large pool of batters. Show me how many have delivered in the past 12 months. They are persisting with Warner, Cowan because there is no alternative. They still have no answer for the sixth batsman and No.3 is a worry. If Watson returns, he will give the much needed stability. Wake up Clarke, you need him.

Posted by SamRoy on (February 5, 2013, 7:02 GMT)

Now that Hussey and Ponting are gone; after Clarke, Watson is the only reliable proper batsman in the team. The fact he throws it away after getting a decent start is more of a mental block. Warner, though extremely talented will always be hit or miss (ala Sehwag/Gilchrist). Hughes still is a catching practice for slips against any good inswing bowlers (Phantom, Kulasekara, etc). Rest are yet to prove themselves.

Posted by Ducky610 on (February 5, 2013, 6:34 GMT)

Well when you look at Shane Watson's carrier in test cricket it has been fairly mediocre... Except for one glaring high point: When he opened the batting and bowled a reduced number of overs between 2009-2011.

In this time he averaged 43.7 making his only 2 hundreds and 15 50s as well as averaging 25.5 and taking 42 of his 62 wickets with the ball.

For me, he deserves the chance to play a similar role again and if he can replicate this form he absolutely should stay there... If he cant however the perhaps heneriques,doolan or ferguson should perhaps be ahead of and hopefully khawaja, Hughes and Cowan can make some runs

Posted by Meety on (February 5, 2013, 5:44 GMT)

@Ms.Cricket on (February 5, 2013, 1:31 GMT) - at the moment, I'd say NO, to both of your comparisons! Watto has batted poorly for a while now. He should give up 20/20 cricket & concentrate on Tests for a few years. He is not getting enough FC exposure. @goldeneraaus on (February 5, 2013, 2:24 GMT) - small point - I would not put Doolan in the same category as Forrest. Doolan is a lot younger & less experienced & statistically is easily Forrest's superior. @Nathan Aravinthan - there are fundamental differences between Watto & Clarke. Firstly nobody ever calls Clarke an allrounder, he is a very useful part timer, & how do you know he declined Ponting's requests to bowl? Also - Hayden averaged over 50, Watto is less than 40 & dropping!

Posted by KhanMitch on (February 5, 2013, 5:40 GMT)

Good points Lewis, lets agree on our top 11 and give them time to settle in and yes i would have Khawaja in there with Watson opening. My 14-man squad would be:-

Watson Warner Hughes Khawaja Clarke Cossie Wade Haurtiz Starc Siddle Pattinson Lyon Bird Moses

Right now this looks like a pretty obvious squad, although I still don't think Watson should be going - he has no form, is expecting the birth of his first child…seems pointless to have him for 2 tests & who knows when he will have to leave for the birth of his child.

Posted by DylanBrah on (February 5, 2013, 5:07 GMT)

What CA say and do are two different things. Watson is their man.

Posted by   on (February 5, 2013, 5:05 GMT)

Well, I for the most part disagree with Clarke here. The batting lineup is shaky, underperforming and needs a bit of consistency. I think Watson without the strains of bowling should be able to hold down a batting place in the team simply because the cupboard is bare right now. Need I remind people about Marsh and Quiney.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (February 5, 2013, 4:18 GMT)

The instability is what is really hurting us atm. Almost everyone in the team is constantly playing for their spot instead of playing for the team (like they should be). That was a huge secret of our success over the years, we had a settled team that only ever got changed when injury occured. Obviously retirements happened which have broken up the stability (as it will to South Africa and England in time) but we need to figure out our best 11 quickly and stick to it as much as possible.A guy like Khawaja to me needs to feel like he is a long term member of the team, not just someone that gets 1 game every once in a while to prove his ability as he is the real deal when it comes to test cricket. Give him half the games(i.e 5) that Cowan has had in a row and you will have a solid test batsman. This current atmosphere creates enormous pressure on a player to constantly be thinking he only has one chance to show what he can do. And why wasn't D Huss not picked in the squad.

Posted by   on (February 5, 2013, 3:44 GMT)

It is quite disappointing to see Clarke take this tack. Not so long ago, in the aftermath of the exodus of McGrath and Warne, while Ponting was struggling to keep a new look team going Clarke rarely put his hand up to bowl despite the pressing need of his captain. Sure he had is bad back and I have no issue with that. However it is sad to see Watto being penalized for the being in the same predicament. The fact is Watto's body cannot take the strain. The fact is Watto performed admirably well at the top of the order. We never expected Haydos to bowl. Neither did we expect Langer to bowl. It seems rather cruel to punish Watto for having the ability to bowl. Watto is owed a good run at the top. Either with Warner or Huges. Preferably with Huges.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (February 5, 2013, 3:15 GMT)

It will be interesting to see whether not bowling actually leads to an improvement in Watson's batting because, while obviously talented, his record is not exactly stellar. A Test average of 37 should not really be good enough to keep him in the team without bowling as a second string.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (February 5, 2013, 3:03 GMT)

I personally am a big fan of both Watto and Khawaja and see them both in our top 6. Cowan is the man under pressure and must get runs in the warm up games in India along with Watto and Khawaja to justify his spot in the team. And seriously what is Smith doing in the the squad, he is not our best reserve batsman

Posted by mar2000 on (February 5, 2013, 2:45 GMT)

The words of Michael Clarke about one of the Worlds best players (Shane Watson) at the moment is uncalled for . Skipper Clarke turn will come when things will be said about him also . let's see how he respond .Its just a matter of time .

Posted by MinusZero on (February 5, 2013, 1:53 GMT)

I am glad sense has finally been seen. Although Clarke said "I don't think anybody walks into the Australian cricket team. It's about performance..." Since when is this the case? How many times have underperforming players just come back in as a matter of course.

Returning players should have to prove themselves before coming back into the sides. Watson has not done that, couldnt even get runs in grade cricket. In saying that though, CA pay him so much that there is no chance he wont be selected.

Watson has the gold selection card no matter how he plays...lets face it, his batting average over the last two years (26.40) does not reek of a form player who deserves selection. Watson should consider test retirement, he isnt a great test player, but he is a great short form player. He is just blocking the way for the future of Australia's batting line up.

Posted by Mary_786 on (February 5, 2013, 1:42 GMT)

I agree with Clarke here, ideally i want Watto opening but he has to prove himself in the ODIs and warm up games to get that spot from Cowan. My ideal batting attack leading into the ashes would have Watson and Warner opening, Hughes at 3 and Khawaja at 4 with Clarke at 5.

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (February 5, 2013, 1:35 GMT)

To be honest I can't see Cowan having a long test career. Averaging 30, with a good score being 50 simply won't cut it long term. If Watson isn't going to bowl then he should return to opening with Hughes at 3, Clarke 4 and some younger batsmen at 5 and 6 with the 'keeper at 7.

Posted by Ms.Cricket on (February 5, 2013, 1:31 GMT)

What's with Clarke constantly undermining his deputy Watson? You tell me if Watson as a batter is not more effective than Cowan or Hughes? Clarke seems to be showing personal favourites when he gave Ponting public unconditional support even though Ponting was not scoring runs but seems to be very narrow-minded when it comes to Watson as a batsman who has been in excellent batting form for the last 12 months.

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Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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