Australia news April 21, 2013

Watson insists he wasn't pushed

ESPNcricinfo staff
30

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

  • Jaffa79 on April 21, 2013, 10:40 GMT

    Despite being an England fan, I do think it is a shame that Watson hasn't kicked on to be a true, top class all rounder. Maybe his body isn't up to it or he lacks a bit of mental toughness but he hasn't cut the mustard. I have seen him slay teams in ODI cricket and his bowling has always been more than useful when he is fit. I am amazed at people on here touting Smith, Cowan or Hughes to be VC. They all have enough on their plates staying in the team! How can a guy like Smith, who has struggled against top class seam bowling and is making his way in the team be part of a management team? Siddle, who I agree might not be assured of place in the team, would add heart, passion and commitment. Why are bowlers always overlooked for leadership roles? The bottom line is that Australia are in dire straits if Clarke is not fit for the Ashes.

  • Ms.Cricket 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).

  • landl47 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?

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

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

  • hycIass on April 22, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    @Mary786 well said, I agree completely

  • himanshu.team 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.

  • Mary_786 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.

  • Meety 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?

  • spindizzy 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?

  • Broken_F-ing_Arm 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

  • Jaffa79 on April 21, 2013, 10:40 GMT

    Despite being an England fan, I do think it is a shame that Watson hasn't kicked on to be a true, top class all rounder. Maybe his body isn't up to it or he lacks a bit of mental toughness but he hasn't cut the mustard. I have seen him slay teams in ODI cricket and his bowling has always been more than useful when he is fit. I am amazed at people on here touting Smith, Cowan or Hughes to be VC. They all have enough on their plates staying in the team! How can a guy like Smith, who has struggled against top class seam bowling and is making his way in the team be part of a management team? Siddle, who I agree might not be assured of place in the team, would add heart, passion and commitment. Why are bowlers always overlooked for leadership roles? The bottom line is that Australia are in dire straits if Clarke is not fit for the Ashes.

  • Ms.Cricket 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).

  • landl47 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?

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

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

  • hycIass on April 22, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    @Mary786 well said, I agree completely

  • himanshu.team 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.

  • Mary_786 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.

  • Meety 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?

  • spindizzy 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?

  • Broken_F-ing_Arm 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

  • Meety 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!

  • Nerk on April 21, 2013, 22:32 GMT

    Make Bailey VC. After all, it would be consistent with Australian selection policy of picking players on ODI and 20/20 form!

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on April 21, 2013, 22:00 GMT

    This is ridiculous. Fall out with Clarke for a small reason like not writing on a post-it note in time for school break, and he doesn't talk to you again. So with Watson out the picture, and with zero other options for vice captain (every other batsman is limping along on the bottom rung) that Australia will have to give the captaincy to Siddle, and what a desperate move that will be. Australian test cricket is a circus.

  • Aussasinator on April 21, 2013, 18:29 GMT

    shane Watson is through with serious cricket. he's now a t 20 specialist who doesn't want to publicly say so. Both Watson and CA know that he doesn't have the ability to be a class all rounder in the longer format. so the hints have been dropped.

  • PACERONE on April 21, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    Years ago the West Indies had a player named Joe Solomon.He never bowled much,played primarily as a batsman and was very dependable.Steve Smith could play that role for Australia.He has proved that he can be a dependable batsman,very good fielder and if he kept practicing his leg breaks could be a good change bowler who would pick up valuable wickets when needed.If he is bowled just before or after a break of play for 2 or 3 overs and with a plan he could be dangerous.

  • PACERONE on April 21, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    Why do so many people have such short memories.At the start of his career he was so lucky.Either he would give a chance that was not accepted or the umpire would make decisions in his favor early in his innings.Maybe he was not pushed,but he knows that he was not wanted.He will be lucky to make the Ashes team.He submitted his resignation and it was readily accepted by all the people that mattered.His habit of bowling wide will not work against english batsmen,who would just watch them go by.This is not the IPL.

  • hhillbumper on April 21, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    Shane Watson is not an all rounder.He is a t20 specialist and that is good for him.But if he is an automatic choice for Australia then you are in trouble

  • Prabhash1985 on April 21, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    Why not George Bailey? I think he is a hugely underrated cricketer. He can become even better than Ricky.

  • Charlie101 on April 21, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    There are deep divisions in the aussie camp and this is a sympton on what is going on. Arthur and clarke are very autocratic leaders , hence Mike Hussey did not tell of his immenant retirement because he knew he would not be selected . A player like Hussey deserved a proper send off and to be able to announce his retirement in a normal way !!! The "homework " problems of India with 4 players being banned also tells a story.

    Watson has made the right move for Watson and it may help his batting.

  • Mitty2 on April 21, 2013, 9:55 GMT

    @raadQ smith most likely won't even be in the ashes squad, he was a horses for courses selection in India because of his talent against spin. We all know how he is against pace however...

    @junaid dawjee although I agree with your sentiment on true all rounders, Kallis is first picked as a batsman with the bonus of his bowling, whereas Watson is picked as an allrounder and nothing else. We have been saying he is a "rare talent" for almost a decade. He's now 31 and he hasn't proved a single thing, he has been a perennial underachiever.

    @Fleming Mitch, I should clarify, that would be my ideal top 7. But there's not a chance in hell it's going to happen. The most likely top 7 first selected is: Cowan Warner Hughes Watson Clarke khawaja wade. And of course, there's a million problems with that: wade has lost us test matches with his inept keeping; Watson isn't an adequate test batsman; Warner is too hit and miss as an opener, and this is exasperated with a shaky line up (he should be 6).

  • on April 21, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    Whatever the averages say Watto is a fantastic entertainer and a valuable addition to any side. Quality all-rounders are a rare commodity and give their teams a huge advatage. Crickets all-rounders like Kallis and Watson, to name a few, seldom play for a place in the side. They are automatic inclusions. Perhaps Watto has been a bit reckless in his batting but when he come off he looks awesome and nobody complains about hitting straight. Stick with the man, he is a rare talent!

  • RaadQ on April 21, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    If Steve Smith can produce decent results in both the Ashes, then he should be made VC, has he proved himself useful in spin-friendly conditions. Otherwise it should be Phil Hughes, although Hughes has to improve playing spin, since he shouldn't even be on the team-sheet in the subcontinent with his current form.

  • on April 21, 2013, 6:33 GMT

    This guys bowled in IPL and took 2 wickets after a long break from bowling. He should start bowling. Saving self for fitness sake is good idea, but not at the cost of Aussies loosing so humiliatingly to India. Watson start bowling.

  • Amith_S on April 21, 2013, 6:30 GMT

    My gut feeling says Siddle will be chosen, and that could be a safe option to go with. Wade would probably do well as vice captain but he is still struggling to hold his place. Maybe later if he finally asserts himself. Warner may be a smart move for a number of reasons. He is one of the few new batsmen who has a reasonable test average and should improve in England. The responsibility may just make him less impetuous and more measured in his attacking style of batting. He was beginning to show a much more sensible approach to his game but was found out badly, as were most batsmen, in India. Khawaja is a good choice for the future but i want him to get a full ashes series so he can show us his batting talent which is clearly there. There really is no one else who stands out at this stage. The other bowlers coming through are too young or as indicated not assured of a placeThere is of course the other option of not having a vice captain at all.

  • JobeWatson on April 21, 2013, 6:29 GMT

    My top 7: Rogers, Cowan, Hughes (VC), Khawaja, Clarke (C), Voges, Paine (+).

    Extra Opener: Warner Extra Batsman (In order): S.Marsh, Watson Extra Keeper: Hartley

  • on April 21, 2013, 5:57 GMT

    Let's cut the crap, Watson's batting is incredibly overrated and if anything, he's a liability. Injuries are no longer a valid excuse because the truth is Watson isn't some promising 21 year old who has had the start of an international career hampered by injury and needs to be given some understanding He's 31, he's played more than 40 tests over 8 years and what does he have to show for it? 2 centuries, 19 half centuries and a rubbish average of 35. Watson is not a test quality batsman.

  • Flemo_Gilly on April 21, 2013, 5:33 GMT

    @Mitty2 i think your top 7 is close to the mark with 1 or 2 changes, it will be Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Watson, Wade. Agree 100% that our batting needs to stand up if we are to win the ashes. As for the VC i think Siddle will get it, but perhaps Warner may win out too.

  • Mitty2 on April 21, 2013, 4:04 GMT

    No Shane, you're a liability. You gave up bowling to try and increase your batting prowess and keeping in mind your susceptibility to injury everyone thought that was a good idea. But, it only highlighted how inept you are as a test batsman. What was that Shane, Nathan Lyon faced more deliveries than you? You'd think after watching England batting so successfully on the shocking pitches by playing straight, you would've know that playing straight was the way to go! But no, you're a limitied over specialist with no temperament and so got out to pathetic cross bat shots three times.

    My favorite was when you got stumped by charging jadeja and trying to flick it to midwicket! So now, after expecting quitting bowling to change your fortunes, you now thinks dropping the vice captaincy will. Fat chance!

    Our batting is our weakness and our bowling is our strength, so why in all hell do we need an "all rounder" who can't bat?! Top 7: Cowan, Rogers, Hughes, khawaja, clarke, Warner. Hartley.

  • landl47 on April 21, 2013, 2:55 GMT

    MMMM, yes, I expect his role as vice-captain took up so much time and created so much stress that he could hardly be expected to play to his maximum potential.

  • on April 21, 2013, 2:52 GMT

    Ashes XI for the first test should be: Watson, Warner, Hughes (vice captain), Khawaja, Clarke (captain), Cowan, Wade, Siddle, Starc, Pattinson, Bird, Lyon (12th man; if conditions are conducive to spin, then Lyon replaces the underperforming fast bowler whoever that might be).

  • on April 21, 2013, 2:52 GMT

    Ashes XI for the first test should be: Watson, Warner, Hughes (vice captain), Khawaja, Clarke (captain), Cowan, Wade, Siddle, Starc, Pattinson, Bird, Lyon (12th man; if conditions are conducive to spin, then Lyon replaces the underperforming fast bowler whoever that might be).

  • landl47 on April 21, 2013, 2:55 GMT

    MMMM, yes, I expect his role as vice-captain took up so much time and created so much stress that he could hardly be expected to play to his maximum potential.

  • Mitty2 on April 21, 2013, 4:04 GMT

    No Shane, you're a liability. You gave up bowling to try and increase your batting prowess and keeping in mind your susceptibility to injury everyone thought that was a good idea. But, it only highlighted how inept you are as a test batsman. What was that Shane, Nathan Lyon faced more deliveries than you? You'd think after watching England batting so successfully on the shocking pitches by playing straight, you would've know that playing straight was the way to go! But no, you're a limitied over specialist with no temperament and so got out to pathetic cross bat shots three times.

    My favorite was when you got stumped by charging jadeja and trying to flick it to midwicket! So now, after expecting quitting bowling to change your fortunes, you now thinks dropping the vice captaincy will. Fat chance!

    Our batting is our weakness and our bowling is our strength, so why in all hell do we need an "all rounder" who can't bat?! Top 7: Cowan, Rogers, Hughes, khawaja, clarke, Warner. Hartley.

  • Flemo_Gilly on April 21, 2013, 5:33 GMT

    @Mitty2 i think your top 7 is close to the mark with 1 or 2 changes, it will be Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Watson, Wade. Agree 100% that our batting needs to stand up if we are to win the ashes. As for the VC i think Siddle will get it, but perhaps Warner may win out too.

  • on April 21, 2013, 5:57 GMT

    Let's cut the crap, Watson's batting is incredibly overrated and if anything, he's a liability. Injuries are no longer a valid excuse because the truth is Watson isn't some promising 21 year old who has had the start of an international career hampered by injury and needs to be given some understanding He's 31, he's played more than 40 tests over 8 years and what does he have to show for it? 2 centuries, 19 half centuries and a rubbish average of 35. Watson is not a test quality batsman.

  • JobeWatson on April 21, 2013, 6:29 GMT

    My top 7: Rogers, Cowan, Hughes (VC), Khawaja, Clarke (C), Voges, Paine (+).

    Extra Opener: Warner Extra Batsman (In order): S.Marsh, Watson Extra Keeper: Hartley

  • Amith_S on April 21, 2013, 6:30 GMT

    My gut feeling says Siddle will be chosen, and that could be a safe option to go with. Wade would probably do well as vice captain but he is still struggling to hold his place. Maybe later if he finally asserts himself. Warner may be a smart move for a number of reasons. He is one of the few new batsmen who has a reasonable test average and should improve in England. The responsibility may just make him less impetuous and more measured in his attacking style of batting. He was beginning to show a much more sensible approach to his game but was found out badly, as were most batsmen, in India. Khawaja is a good choice for the future but i want him to get a full ashes series so he can show us his batting talent which is clearly there. There really is no one else who stands out at this stage. The other bowlers coming through are too young or as indicated not assured of a placeThere is of course the other option of not having a vice captain at all.

  • on April 21, 2013, 6:33 GMT

    This guys bowled in IPL and took 2 wickets after a long break from bowling. He should start bowling. Saving self for fitness sake is good idea, but not at the cost of Aussies loosing so humiliatingly to India. Watson start bowling.

  • RaadQ on April 21, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    If Steve Smith can produce decent results in both the Ashes, then he should be made VC, has he proved himself useful in spin-friendly conditions. Otherwise it should be Phil Hughes, although Hughes has to improve playing spin, since he shouldn't even be on the team-sheet in the subcontinent with his current form.

  • on April 21, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    Whatever the averages say Watto is a fantastic entertainer and a valuable addition to any side. Quality all-rounders are a rare commodity and give their teams a huge advatage. Crickets all-rounders like Kallis and Watson, to name a few, seldom play for a place in the side. They are automatic inclusions. Perhaps Watto has been a bit reckless in his batting but when he come off he looks awesome and nobody complains about hitting straight. Stick with the man, he is a rare talent!