Australia news April 20, 2013

Watson stands down as vice-captain


Shane Watson has stood down as Australia's vice-captain across all formats three months out from the Ashes, declaring that he wants to focus his attention on his own performance. Watson's role as Michael Clarke's deputy was the subject of significant public debate during the recent Test tour to India when he was one of four players suspended for a match for failing to complete a task set by the coach Mickey Arthur.

Later the same day, Watson flew to Sydney for the birth of his first child and while checking out of the team hotel said he would use his time at home to weigh up his cricketing future. However, a few days later Watson committed himself to the team in the long term and rejoined the squad in Delhi, where he captained Australia in the fourth Test when Clarke was unavailable due to his back injury.

But during that match, Watson's disappointing run of batting form continued and he finished the tour with 99 runs at an average of 16.50, a miserable return given that he had chosen to embark on the trip as a batsman only. Watson has not scored a Test century since October 2010 and since becoming vice-captain in 2011 he has managed only 627 Test runs at 24.11.

"Making the decision to step down wasn't easy but it's something I've been thinking about since the Test series against India ended," Watson said. "I think it's the right time for a change for both the team and me. I'll be honest and admit I wrestled with the decision for some time, however once I made up my mind, I informed Cricket Australia so the selectors could consider their options for the Ashes given the squads will be announced soon.

"I want to be the best Test player I can be for Australia and think I can do that by stepping down from the vice-captaincy to focus my attention on scoring runs, taking wickets and doing whatever is necessary to help the team achieve success. I won't be the vice-captain in title but I think I can still be a leader and strong contributor around the group.

"Yesterday I rang John Inverarity, Mickey Arthur and Michael Clarke to advise them of my decision and they respect that decision and agree with me that this is the best outcome for me and the team. I thank Cricket Australia for the leadership opportunity over the past two years and I'm really looking forward to this next phase. In my conversations with Mickey and Michael I reaffirmed my commitment to the team and support for them as we fight to win back the Ashes and get back to being ranked number one in the world."

John Inverarity, the national selector, said: "Shane Watson should be commended for making the tough call to step down from the vice-captaincy to focus on playing. Regardless, he will still be an important senior leader within the team. The national selection panel will now consider and then put a vice-captaincy recommendation to the Cricket Australia Board for its approval."

Watson was named vice-captain to Clarke in March 2011 after Ricky Ponting stood down as the team's leader. He filled in as Australia's captain in nine one-day internationals for five victories as well as leading in the Delhi Test.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Phil on April 22, 2013, 10:53 GMT

    @Jono_hakim some very wise words, hopefully the selectors are listening.

  • Mariam on April 21, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    SirViv1973 spot on, we can't make a bloke who is averaging 30 our VC, it has to be Siddle or Warner.

  • Dummy4 on April 21, 2013, 8:48 GMT

    @Fleming_Mitch, You are right about the rotation policy, the revolving door of selection means that we now have no real clue of what the best xi really is and the departure of Ponting, Hussey and perhaps Watson really exacerbates that. I'm not really sure if we can lay the blame for all the departures at the feet of the selection panel but the hocus pocus attempts to build a solid xi has left a lot to be desired. The shielding of Hughes, the rotation of bowlers, carting Ussie around the world and not playing him, all far from ideal and it makes it hard to take decisions on players going forward, such as making them VC for example.

  • Amith on April 21, 2013, 6:41 GMT

    But Pup and Watto don't seem to be on each other's christmas card list despite, having so many obvious things in common.Same age, both like shopping and fashion lol, similar childhood, so maybe one had to go and it was Watto who jumped first.Which is a shame as these 2 have so much in common they could of put aside there natural dislike for each other and work together. If i had to pick a replacement it would probably be Siddle or Johnson. Warner and Khawaja possibly but let these 2 guys focus on their batting as they are needed in the ashes. The guy with the most courage is Siddle and we need a bit of that right now.

  • Ross on April 21, 2013, 5:45 GMT

    Siddle is by far the best option. For a start he is committed to test cricket only, no conflicting priorities and his performances reflect this. CA have got themselves in a bit of trouble here; by the very nature of their self made rotation policy they have made it near impossible for themselves to pick a VC. No one in the current (or most recent) team seems capable to me; personally I would have to make Siddle VC, bring in Khawaja for the ashes and give him a full series as he adds beef to our batting, because if clarkies back goes bust again it could be like a bunch of headless chooks with no-one certain of their position and lack of solid batting.

  • Dummy4 on April 21, 2013, 0:11 GMT

    Watson should never have been given the vice captaincy in the first place and his selection was a damning indictment on the lack of leadership options in the side. As for his future in the side, the only way I can see him justifying a place is if he is in there purely as a bowler and not as an all-rounder as some are suggesting. His main task as bowler would be to tie down an end building pressure with wickets being a bonus. The end game is for his bowling to continue improving to the point that he could be used as a regular wicket taker. Let's face it, Watson's batting is overrated and it's been based more on hype than on results. An average of 35 and just 2 centuries from a decade of test matches for someone who wants to be called a top order batsman is pathetic.

  • Rod on April 20, 2013, 23:21 GMT

    I think Australia make far too much fuss about having an official vice-captain. However, that said, they do need someone experienced who could take over if Clarke is injured rather than try to find their next permanent captain at this point. Best choice would be to persuade Hussey to un-retire. Haddin would be a good choice, but they seem to have no desire to drop Wade which that would entail. (I know there's an argument that Haddin could play as batsman, but really?). A very good idea would be Chris Rogers as a short-term fill-in to add the experience and provide the captaincy back up. He's played in england a lot, frequently as captain of a county side.

  • Dummy4 on April 20, 2013, 21:37 GMT

    Be best now if George Bailey became vice-captain and slotted in at 5 or 6.He is a focused, mature person who just gets on and does the job and takes real pride in his professional efforts.

  • Umair on April 20, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    Clearly, bowling in the IPL is more important to him than Australia. Stepping down from vice captaincy is, therefore, no surprise.

  • Dummy4 on April 20, 2013, 18:53 GMT

    i think australia has one of the best bowling attacks to take advantage of seam and swing conditions if available this summer in england. the only problem is how will the aussie batsmen cope with the swing and seam movement. i can guarantee that its going to be harder for england to beat australia though. the conditions in india are different, so u cant really use that to judge australia for the ashes.