May 7, 2012

Australian cricket

Shane Watson: Against Nature

Akhila Ranganna

Few batsmen fail as rarely as Shane Watson, states the Old Batsman blog, but unfortunately, few succeed as rarely as Watson either. It's against the nature and the history of batsmanship to be out for a median score as often as Shane is. Ultimately the greatest quality in batting is to be able to stay in, because everything else springs from that. Why can't he do it?

Hashim Amla has made 52 per cent of his Test runs in boundaries and sixes. Jonathan Trott has made 44 per cent of his that way, Alastair Cook 46 per cent, Ricky Ponting 48 per cent, Kevin Pietersen 54 per cent. Watson has a percentage above all of them at 57. Only freaks like Sehwag with 67 per cent and Chris Gayle with 75 per cent go beyond him, and they each have two triple centuries in Test cricket. The stats suggest two things about the way Watson plays: that he needs boundaries to build his score, and that he gets out trying to hit them once the field goes back. Both are symptomatic of a player who either doesn't look at where the field is, or who can't keep hitting the gaps. That's guesswork, though. Perhaps Shane is just a rebours.

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Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo

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