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October 2, 2012

World Twenty20 2012

When Watson fails

Jarrod Kimber
Shane Watson lofts a delivery, Australia v South Africa, Super Eights, World Twenty20, Colombo, September 30, 2012
Shane Watson has had a wonderful tournament, but can't do it all on his own  © ICC/Getty
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Shane Watson has been a visible giant beast in this tournament; everyone has seen what he can do. Everyone one was waiting for him to fail. When he did he managed to bring Australia crashing down with him.

Other than Watson, the Aussie that everyone has been talking about is David Hussey. The most prolific run scorer in domestic T20 history, which is not really much of a history, but still. He's also 23rd on the list of international T20 run scorers. He can bowl right arm fast offspin, and is a demon in the field.

If you were to build the perfect T20 player, you'd build Watson or Chris Gayle. If you were mass marketing T20 players, you'd sell millions of David Hussey.

Australian fans and Ian Chappell have been saying David Hussey's name like he is the missing link between Australia winning or losing this tournament. Hussey's spot is being taken by either the captain they'd never heard of, George Bailey, the re-cycled Cameron White, or the new man with the big ego, Glenn Maxwell.

Even when Hussey was a member of the middle order, it's been seen as susceptible to spin and weak. But for four glorious games, they were not required. Watson had punched, smashed and crashed through anyone in Australia's way. The middle order was only brought on when the opposition had been mentally broken.

Shane Watson couldn't save them forever.

Australia had secret camps, brought in spinners from across their country, ventured into the desert and took on the beast of Ajmal, all so that they could be ready for this tournament and the wily mystery spinners they would have to handle. They handled the 18 overs of Pakistan spin (it would have been 20 if not for Shoaib Malik getting Mike Hussey treatment) much the same way you would a chest bursting alien popping out.

Every fear that the Aussies had that their middle order wasn't up to scratch was ripped open. Bailey started well, but missed two short balls from Ajmal in a row. White hit a big six, before holing out. And Maxwell didn't last long at all.

Australia's batsmen were so poor that if Mike Hussey had not played the innings he did, Australia had put themselves in a position to go out of the tournament. Now sure, it may say more about a tournament where you can lose only one game and not qualify, or win only two and qualify, but that is just how much the Pakistani spinners dominated the Australian batsmen.

Play it awkwardly or try and hit it really hard seemed to be their main game plan, and it came unstuck with ease. Watson, Warner and Hussey have looked decisive, powerful and dismissive of spinners in this tournament. The rest of the batsmen have looked confused, limp and scared as they poked around uncertainly.

There will be calls for David Hussey to come straight back in. He can't replace Bailey, but Maxwell and White could easily slip out of the side.

Maxwell is, in theory, safe because of his bowling. But in five matches he's bowled only seven overs, and it seems that one or two a night is his limit. White helps out with tactics, but in the subcontinent often bats a bit like a lumbering dinosaur trying to catch prey that is far quicker than him. When he catches it, he kills it, but he often goes hungry.

And all those calling for David Hussey's imminent return should see his record from the UAE, but not if they have a full stomach. He made 13, 3, 0, 43, 3 and 1 on that tour, which is why the selectors went for White and Maxwell in the first place.

While David Hussey might not be the answer, if the selectors do want to bring him in to bolster the middle order, in case of Watson emergencies, they can without losing Maxwell or White. Brad Hogg has taken two wickets in five matches, his economy rate is 7.55, but his fielding and batting are not the Brad Hogg of his teens, twenties or even thirties. Against Pakistan the man with Test batting average of 26 and first-class average of 35 watched Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins bat before him. Hogg has not been the success story that Australia would have hoped for.

Regardless of whether Hussey, Maxwell, White or Hogg play, it now looks like Australia can only win this tournament they don't play Pakistan in the final or Watson continues to be the beast.

Watson is only one man, but as Australia scrambled around against spin, he felt like more than that.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Posted by Dave on (October 3, 2012, 23:28 GMT)

The stuff of dreams. Keep telling yourself the same tired story. AUS smashed Pakistan and tied one game in the UAE, beat them in the ODIs when Watson wasn't even playing. The results clearly show that the teams are well-matched in these conditions (AUS would walk it in outside the sub-continent). And now after one 30 run win when AUS were making sure to secure 112 to make the semis, we are supposed to believe they can't beat PAK again? Dream on. Maybe AUS will win the next game by 80 runs like they did 2 games ago. Or did you forget that game after the 30 run win here? Yes, maybe Watson will fail. But maybe Starc will rip through the PAK batting lineup, as so many fastbowlers have. Maybe Warner will hit another 50 ball T20 century, or Hussey will smash a heap of sixes like the last T20 WC. All possible, but none worth dreaming about.

Posted by hepziline on (October 3, 2012, 15:19 GMT)

stop kidding guys throw maxwell,bailey out maybe then we have a chance of making it to the final its not that they are worthles just that they are inexperienced i totally agree with the author guys pls dont hang on poor watto's shoulders

Posted by Aditya Mookerjee on (October 3, 2012, 13:40 GMT)

Can I be honest? Not about Watson. He reminds me of two extraordinary all rounders who played for India. They seemed to be indespensible to Indian fortunes. It doesn't seem as if Watson is an extraordinary talent. I loved to watch Mr. Binny and Mr. Lal bowl, I hope, not because I am an Indian. In England, if these two players were bowling and batting, India could be easily the strongest team, and they might have a better chance of winning a Test series, than Australia's chances. These players didn't play for England, but India. Under Artherton, bowlers who were front line, didn't do what these two bowlers did. I did feel pretty awful, that Artherton didn't beat Australia, regularly, in England.

Posted by Qazi Hassan on (October 3, 2012, 13:00 GMT)

It not just Watson, it is the opening pair. I won many bets correctly predicting Australia's win/won based on first two overs. If the openers went away in first two overs, Australia. Pakistan did it again and again in UAE. As for Hussey brothers, one need to see what Saeed Ajmal does, because ever since a Hussey hit those infamous sixes off him in the WC semi final, they seem to fall cheaply to Saeed Ajmal.

Posted by Teimoor on (October 3, 2012, 12:22 GMT)

"They handled the 18 overs of Pakistan spin (it would have been 20 if not for Shoaib Malik getting Mike Hussey treatment) much the same way you would a chest bursting alien popping out."

Hillarious!

Posted by Hari Ravi on (October 3, 2012, 10:23 GMT)

Its true that Watson is the big gap betwenn Aussies and all teams and between him and all others in the Aussie team. The way he has batted here shows the potential he has and the ability as an all rounder he has developed. Aussie middle order looks very weak in the absence of Ponting, Clarke and David Hussey. I think bailey is a big liability and a utility player like David and Christian are left out. Like SL did Aussies should look at changing the captain for the final, in case they qualify and Pak is their opponent. Watson or Mike Hussey should lead and Bailey should sit out. Watson's borad shoulders are taking a lot of responsibility and hope he succeeds for just 2 more games so that Aussies will fill in the blank in their list of World Cups!

Posted by Daison on (October 3, 2012, 10:06 GMT)

When Australia played Pakistan before the WorldT20, one would have thought they had the "measure" of the Pakistan's spin bowling. But it turned out that Pakistan Spinners have the measure of Ausee batsmen and have apparently found more ways to get them out.

Posted by Saeed Iqbal on (October 3, 2012, 8:23 GMT)

watson is seems to the backbone of the batting order specially now a day and every team is looking to get him early as soon as possible. because of his aggressive strike rate he is mojor problem for the opponents but on the other hand by observing him that these team dont play spin at master level.

Posted by ramanujam sridhar on (October 3, 2012, 6:30 GMT)

Actually the problem was that Pakistan bowled 18 overs of spin and most of the Australians got out trying to hit the ball. With any other team there will be a combination of pace and spin and that should be manageable. I think Maxwell as a bowler is really making up the numbers and on any day in any condition he cannot be as good as david Hussey is. And lets not forget Maxwell dropped Jamsher in the first over of Staarc and he cashed in big time on that. It is stupid to make predictions but Australia should really worry about Gayle and the windies instead of worrying unduly about the finals. Forty overs can be a long time as they realized yesterday. Get back McKay and David Hussey and not worry about what happened yesterday is my two bit to the aussies . Ramanujam Sridhar

Posted by andrew schulz on (October 3, 2012, 5:54 GMT)

A few points are missed in this article. Australia could certainly beat Pakistan on another day. At the 1999 world cup Pakistan won the group stage, made a lot of noise about it, and were thumped with 30 overs to spare by Australia in the final. The final will be played later in the night, when spinners have rarely been a strong factor because of the dew. And to say 'the rest of the batsmen have looked limp, confused....' is ridiculous. This was the only hit they have had in the tournament! What of the competitive series they have just played in the UAE? Big difference is that Raza Hassan has been discovered since then, but to say Australia could not beat Pakistan in the final is as confused as you are making the Aussie batsmen out to be. Every dog has its day (as Steve Waugh said to a gloating Shoaib Akhtar when Pakistan won that said game back in 1999), and if these two meet in a final, that dog is far more likely to be Austalia.

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