Australia news April 21, 2013

Watson insists he wasn't pushed

ESPNcricinfo staff

Shane Watson has insisted the decision to step down from the national vice-captaincy was his alone and was not prompted by Cricket Australia or the team management. Watson announced on Saturday that he would no longer be Michael Clarke's deputy because he wanted to focus on his own performance and the timing, in the lead-up to the Ashes squad announcement, led to speculation that he might have been dropped from the role had he not quit.

But Watson said there had been no pressure from within Australian cricket and his decision was in part to allow him to work on his own game and also to make it easier for Australia to start building a succession plan. Clarke and Watson are both 31 and given Clarke's ongoing back problems his longevity as an international cricketer is uncertain and allowing a new vice-captain to learn under him might make the transition easier when it occurs.

"Michael and myself are the exact same age and I suppose it's been in the back of my mind as well to have a succession plan moving forward over the next few years as to who the next Australian captain will be," Watson told the Sun-Herald. "That definitely played a part in my decision as well, knowing that there really does need to be a succession plan in place, I suppose, in place along the lines of Michael and Ricky [Ponting]. I just think the time is right now for me to stand down and allow that process to move forward.

"I haven't felt pressure from the Cricket Australia hierarchy or anything like that at all. It's mainly just come down to me, knowing that there has to be a succession plan. I'm very realistic with the team, myself and the structure. That is very important. What CA are looking out for at the moment is a few future leaders of the Australian cricket team."

Watson captained Australia in their most recent Test in Delhi, where India wrapped up a 4-0 series win last month, but personally he had a very disappointing tour with the bat, averaging 16.50. He had chosen not to bowl in an effort to prevent injury and allow him to gain some momentum as a batsman but the plan backfired and he intends to be bowling again by the time the Ashes begins.

Since Watson was named vice-captain two years ago he has failed to hit the necessary heights as a Test batsman and averaged 24.11 with the bat during that time. Watson said he knew he could not expect to keep being selected if he was not contributing on the field but he hoped that by stepping down from an official leadership position he would give himself more chance of on-field success.

"It will definitely free me up a bit," he said. "My workload is nowhere near what Michael's is, that's for sure. But being an allrounder as well, coming back and bowling, that little bit of extra time that I would have been spending in the leadership meetings I'll be able to spend on doing everything I can to get the best out of myself. I'll also be able to get as much life balance as I can with my young family.

''Throughout the Indian series it certainly made me realise what my make-up is. That certainly is an allrounder. It increases my chances of selection as well and I do want to be a part of the Ashes campaign."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Prem on April 23, 2013, 6:14 GMT

    Great that Shane Watson has quit the vice-captaincy, Cricket Australia must offer him the captaincy now. Watson was by far the better captain in the last Test with a better competitive approach and result to Clarke in the first three Tests where Clarke blundered repetedly (like taking Pattinson out of the attack in the Chennai Test when Aus had India on the ropes at 11/2 and Tenddulkar just walked in).

  • John on April 23, 2013, 5:11 GMT

    I'm intrigued as to why everyone has Khawaja in their side. What in Australia's recent history leads you to believe that the selectors are looking his way? He didn't play a test in India, despite the consensus from Aussie fans before the series that he would be the best player of spin after Clarke. He was one of the four disciplined for failing to complete a simple task, even though I would have thought he'd have been one of the first to try to show he was ready to play. He didn't get a central contract. He hasn't played a serious first-class match for 6 months. He averaged 34 for Derbyshire in Div. 2 of the County Championship last season. He's yet another left-hander for Swann to bowl at.

    Everyone commenting has him pencilled in, but I can't see why anyone thinks he is on the selectors' list at all. I'll be surprised if he's in the squad. Smith took his chance in India and I think Bailey gets in ahead of Khawaja in the selectors' minds. Comments, anyone?

  • rahul on April 22, 2013, 19:40 GMT

    What a load of B.S. Poor Watson can't even express his mind freely.

  • Phil on April 22, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    @Mary786 well said, I agree completely

  • Himanshu on April 22, 2013, 7:32 GMT

    I understand that Watson wants to step down as VC and focus on his own game. If he does not improve his game, he will be out of the squad sooner than later. However, I fail to see any other player in the team, who has cemented his place yet. There is no bowler who can take up the role except Siddle. However, Siddle himself is not young nor is he very consistent to be playing all of Australia's matches. In batting you have Warner, Hughes, Cowan who are all likely to play for Australia for a long time. However, they too are inconsistent and do not inspire the confidence to be developed as future captian of the Aussie side. This will be tough decision for CA. Many people are already talking about an ashes whitewash (if not back to back whitewashes). It is tough time for Australian cricket indeed.

  • Mariam on April 22, 2013, 3:29 GMT

    I actually believe that Watson stepping down gives Australia an ideal opportunity to re-build. Pup will be captain and first picked for the next 3 years, however, then we have to have a new captain and the nucleus of a new team.The next 10 tests are Ashes tests and some would say do not pick young debutants for the Ashes because you would throw them to the wolves. Well I say hogwash. Identify now the up and comers and pick them now, and throw in a couple of seasoned people to provide the correct teachings.For the Ashes the batsmen I would pick are Clarke, Cowan, Warner, Ferguson, Khawarja and maybe Smith, although that last spot is a bit open. Khawaaj will do great if he can get a full series similar to what's been given to other batsman and I am still thinking that Warner will come through for us in the ashes despite a lean series in India.

  • Andrew on April 22, 2013, 3:20 GMT

    @spindizzy on (April 22, 2013, 0:57 GMT) - I was sort of thinking the same thing. Maybe IF he had SOME pressure from above he'd of done better?

  • Stephen on April 22, 2013, 0:57 GMT

    "I haven't felt pressure from the Cricket Australia hierarchy or anything like that at all."

    He damn well should have, his performances for the past year or so have been dismal. If that's not enough to deserve pressure from above, what is?

  • Frank on April 22, 2013, 0:11 GMT

    Watson is a great weapon in ODI's and T20's, but for tests he is not up to it any more. A mid 30's average after 8 yrs is maybe good enough for Zimbabwe. I actually think his bowling is his strong suit as he often finds deadly reverse swing but even with him bowling his batting just isn't good enough (+i cant remember him smiling during a test in about 3 yrs. it doesnt look like he has the passion for test anymore)

    Selectors look like they're sticking with Wade and refuse to name a alternative (besides 36 yr old haddin) so Wade would be the best choice for VC, based on he has the steadiest place in the side from all candidates. Another intersesting choice would be Lyon as he seems to have a good cricket mind.

    1st test XI - Rogers, Cowan, Hughes, Warner, Clarke, Smith/Khawaja, Wade (VC), Pattinson, Bird, Siddle, Lyon/O'keefe

  • Andrew on April 21, 2013, 23:58 GMT

    @Mitty2 on (April 21, 2013, 4:04 GMT) - my ONLY real problem with your top 6 - is too many lefties. Could bring Swann into the equation more, which is probably not too bad as it would generally mean we have seen off the pacers!