Australia news March 26, 2013

Inverarity offers no guarantees for Watson


Shane Watson's place as Australia's vice-captain and even as a member of the Test team is far from guaranteed, after national selector John Inverarity indicated that the sometime-allrounder's future would be a major topic for discussion between now and the Ashes tour.

Having gone to India as a non-bowling batsman and as a player with an enormous amount of experience on the subcontinent in a squad largely ignorant of its challenges, Watson produced nothing of substance with the bat and blotted his off-field leadership copybook by being among the four players suspended from the Mohali Test for failing to follow instructions.

Nonetheless, Watson was then appointed captain in Michael Clarke's stead for the dead final Test, in which he was twice out cheaply while leading the team to a fourth consecutive heavy defeat. Inverarity revealed there had been discussions around whether or not Watson should be interim captain in the circumstances, and that the national selection panel will deliberate further about his place in coming days.

"I won't go into details there but it was all carefully considered," Inverarity told reporters of the captaincy choice for Delhi. "There were a couple of other options and that was the preferred option. He was tour vice-captain and he was the one who had captaincy experience at international level, and from all quarters that was the preferred option.

"The national selection panel will have discussions later this week and through April and every player will be discussed. Things will always be discussed. Every aspect of the team will be discussed. Players in leadership roles. That is absolutely normal.''

Watson's habit of flattering to deceive as a Test batsman was summed up by Inverarity in the gap between his often commanding appearance at the batting crease and his mediocre record, which has now been devoid of a Test century for two and a half years.

"We're concerned about his performances," Inverarity said. "In those ODI matches back in Australia [against the West Indies] his form looked to be outstanding, and in the first couple of Test matches when I was there he was playing well until the ball of his dismissal.

"But we need him, he is one of those senior players, and talented players and experienced players, and we need him performing. All I know is that when I see him play well I think, 'Wow, this guy can play'. He is a wonderful talent. It is just crazy he has not been able to perform at Test level in recent years.''

Watson's place as Clarke's deputy has also been placed at the forefront of the selectors' minds by the captain's injury struggles. Clarke is now set to spend the next two months recovering from the back and hamstring problems he accumulated over the home summer and then in India. The need for a reliable back-up leadership option has increased.

"All those things are under consideration," Inverarity said. "The facts are, at the moment, there is a team in transition. In terms of experience and strong consistent performances over a period of time, we're a little bit short on those things, the options we have at the moment are a little less than in previous years.

"We've got to do the best we can with what's available and we'll be doing all we can in terms of trying to get leadership qualities coming through and a good back-up plan. Michael, who has trouble with his back and hamstring, I haven't known anyone [to] prepare better and treat that adversity better than he does, and we just hope he can stay on the park."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rajaram on March 29, 2013, 4:37 GMT

    Shane Watson is no great shakes.Like Michael Bevan, he is good only for ODIs and T20s. I would have selected Brad Haddin as Captain for the Delhi Test and later as deputy to Michael Clarke. Haddin has leadership qualities. Shane Watson has flattered to deceive. Enough of him. There are better PURE batsmen and Batting All Rounders in the country than this delicate,injury-prone man.

  • Dummy4 on March 28, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    Watson and Warners agressive batting approach is always likely to lead to inconsistent performances. They look fantastic on a given day but just useless the next. There is an inability or an unwillingness to graft an innings in difficult conditions. This is not generally appreciated by the viewing public who are enamoured by the swashbuckling. Guys like Greame Smith never get a mention in the greatness stakes but average over 50 opening in treacherous conditions in SA. Yes, Im SA but thats not the point. Watson and Warner are one day players playing test cricket. Aussie test wickets have become flatter to accomodate these players. Hence the number of draws in aussie tests are on the up. If thats how u want to play test cricket then be willing to accept erratic performances when the going gets tough.

  • Peter on March 27, 2013, 20:23 GMT

    @Tigg. Agree with your points although Watson's average with the bat in the past 3 years makes for very sorry reading. MoHen should be persevered with as he has shown solid form in fc, showed enough in the test series to keep. Smith I agree, but Wade's work behind the stumps were an embarrassment. Far too many sloppy takes, missed chances galore, the error factor far exceeded anything he showed with the bat. That experiment should be concluded, that is, don't pick the best batsman of the available keepers. Not sure if Hilfy deserves a place as their are a stack of young bowlers who would perform as well & develop for the future Faulkner, Copeland come to mind). Khawaja is someone who has the technique to excel in England, hopefully he improves his work ethic & make that transition to successful test player.

  • Simon on March 27, 2013, 13:30 GMT

    Averaging 35 with the bat and 30 with the ball makes for good reading as an all-rounder. The bowling average is somewhat flattering however as, looking to the ashes, in the last two series vs England he's been milked for runs.

    If he can bowl he should make the XI in the classic AR slot of no.6. If he can't, well, I'd give his spot to Henriques.

    As an Englishman I think this is probably the best side Aus could field:

    Warner, Cowan, Hughes, Clarke*, Smith, Watson/Henriques, Wade+, Three from Siddle/Hilfenhaus/Harris/Starc/Pattinson/Bird, Lyon

    ...and Smith only because he played responsibly in his india tests.

  • Satish on March 27, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    Watto deserves at least a couple more test before he is dropped!Now or never.

  • Dummy4 on March 27, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    Interesting article but i don't think the chairman of selectors is helping the player or team by making those comments. I'd like to see the selectors instead select the best wicketkeeper irrespective of his batting ability. Both Haddin and Wade are decent batsmen but drop too many catches miss too many stumpings let through too many byes. Time to try someone else Tim Paine or Chris Hartley(though i bet the selectors think he's too old-like David Hussey ) As for another Batsman George Bailey should be tried (after Usman Khawaja)

  • Simon on March 27, 2013, 2:44 GMT

    Every time I hear Watson speak, or discussed by others, I can't help thinking of the fictional cricketer - Warwick Todd. I'm/he's hitting the ball well - just can't make a score. Even though he has a mediocre record littered by more off field headlines than on field exploits the selectors/he believes he's indispensable to Oz cricket. Will he bowl, won't he bowl, when will he be fit to bowl, I want to bowl, I felt I bowled OK, he should be opening, batting at 4, batting at 6 & 1st change bowler. What a sad state Oz cricket is in if this guy is vital.

  • Dummy4 on March 27, 2013, 2:32 GMT

    For What its worth my ashes team Watson, Warner, Cowan, Clarke, Smith, Wade, Faulkner, Bird, Harris, Pattinson, O'Keefe Reserves Kwahja, Cutting, Starc, Lyon, Hughes, a BIG in if citizenship comes through is Ahmed

  • Satish Chandar on March 27, 2013, 2:03 GMT

    Would anyone have gaurantee of place in the team when not in form unless that guy is of status of Sachin or Punter? Absolutely no.. And, for a chief selector to declare it in public doesn't look that good.. If you think he is not performing, drop him as simple as that.. He is not in average form too.. And not bowling,. You have the rights to drop him and no one is going to complain on that John.. Provided he will be bowling for Ashes, If you guys feel he can offer something to the team, bring him back to no.6 slot and look in.. Warner, Hughes(have him opening and hope for quick start), Cowan(damage control and he will last more than 100 balls more often than not), Bailey(yes.. bring him in.. he adds more stability than the current corp of batsmen), Clarke, Watson/Khawaja, Haddin(Wade need to wait even more. not yet top keeper/bat), Starc, Pattinson, Starc, Lyon.

  • Stephan on March 27, 2013, 2:00 GMT

    Some people are suggesting that Inverarity "singled out" Watson for special criticism. This article does paint that picture, but it is misleading. Other articles suggest that happened here is that reporters specifically asked Inverarity about Watson's form and leadership role. Inverarity for the most part replied with a straight bat, saying that of course that the position of all players is always under consideration (Watson included), and that the leadership of the team (Clarke aside) is a matter of ongoing discussion. The only thing Inverarity specifically said about Watson---when prodded by questioning about Watson---is that they are concerned about his current form, they wish it were better, and they regard him as massively talented and very valuable to the team. There's nothing overly negative about Watson here.