Australian cricket January 7, 2013

The myth of Shane Watson

Shane Watson is desperate to be an allrounder who bats in the middle order and dominates like Freddie Flintoff. Then he wants to open the batting and still bowl his full overs
101

Shane Watson is desperate to be an allrounder who bats in the middle order and dominates like Freddie Flintoff. Then he wants to open the batting and still bowl his full overs. Then he's happy to move down the order to three, as it puts less stress on him. Then he's content to bat at four, and that it will help him bowl more overs. Now he'll bat anywhere, but probably gets that his body won't let him bowl.

That is Shane Watson.

But that is also the Australian selectors. Shane Watson is the biggest headache and most confusing question the selectors have at the moment. Before the Adelaide Test there was more than enough noise that they couldn't play Watson just as a batsman, and now Watson is just a batsman, they have to work out where to get the best out of him, if they want him at all. Today Mickey Arthur has suggested he may have to go back to opening.

Watson is pure throbbing talent. Large, powerful, deadly and mean. He picked up attacks at the World T20 and shook them down. In the IPL he looks better than entire franchises. In ODIs he's a consistent wrecking ball.

But in Test cricket he's an LBW candidate who gets bogged down and doesn't make hundreds.

In Test cricket he's mostly myths.

Watson the opening aggressor

One of the most common incorrect thoughts in cricket is that Shane Watson is an attacking opener. It's simply not true. Sure, for a couple of overs, on the odd occasion, he will slash outside off stump and muscle some pulls, but once he gets to 20 or 30, he stops. And when Watson stops in Test cricket, he's cadaverous.

Virender Sehwag's opening strike-rate is 82. Tillakaratne Dilshan's opening strike-rate is 71. Graeme Smith's opening strike-rate is 59. Simon Katich's opening strike-rate is 49. Alastair Cook's opening strike-rate is 47. Ed Cowan's opening strike-rate is 43.

Watson's is 52. That means that in terms of quick-scoring opening batsmen, Watson is marginally closer to Smith than he is to Cowan. And Dilshan and Sehwag are distant dreams.

Watson is a plodding opening batsman who can hit powerful boundaries. More Jason Arnberger than Matthew Hayden.

Watson is a part-time bowler

Some people will suggest that Watson's bowling isn't that important. That due to his body and the many, many, many changes in action he is nothing more than a trundling medium pacer who can take up a few overs when the ball is older.

Watson has a Test average of 30 with the ball. His economy is under 3. And he has three five-wicket hauls. He's a proper fifth bowler who can bowl with the new ball and get movement. Bowl with an old ball and get reverse swing. And be used as a bowler who can keep the runs down.

In 2011, as an opener who was underbowled, he averaged 19 from six Tests and has won Australia Tests with the ball. Sometimes with game-changing wickets, sometimes by the number of wickets he has taken.

He's clever, he's cocky and when he doesn't bowl Australia feels the nakedness of not having a legitimate fifth bowler.

Watson's in bad form because he isn't opening

It seems amazing that anyone, especially those in the Australian team bubble, would consider that Watson should be moved back to opening the batting and dropping Cowan. Forget that Cowan's ugly, yet ultimately effective 36, might have been the difference between them winning and losing a Test match in Sydney. Cowan has averaged 32 opening the batting for Australia in 2012-13, with a hundred against the best bowling attack in the world, and in 2011 Watson averaged just 24 doing the same job.

In 2012, not opening the batting, Watson averaged 31. Watson's loss of form in Test cricket seems to have come from teams targeting his massive front pad, his inability to turn the strike over with the field set in anything other than full attack mode and his lack of conversions from 50 to 100s.

Overall Watson still averages 43 opening the batting, but that was mostly earned early on, when he was doing very well. Now he's simply not doing well, no matter where he bats.

Those expecting a return to form batting at the top of the order may find a rude surprise.

Watson is a batsman

Batsmen score hundreds. Allrounders score fifties. Sure that is a generalization, but you know, that's kind of how it works unless you're a Sobers or Kallis. Watson can bat, but that's not being a batsman. There is more to it than that. He seems, either mentally or physically, not able to make the large scores that other batsmen make at the top level.

Watson simply does not score enough Test hundreds to bat at the top of the order. In 38 Tests he has two hundreds and 19 half-centuries. It's the reason he averages 37 and not 42. Top-order batsmen need to score big hundreds. Watson knows this, and his desperation for the big score has even gotten him out before.

Batsmen work through their innings, not hit and stop like Watson.

Watson can't bat in the middle order

When Watson first played Tests for Australia he was brought in as an allrounder who batted at seven. Eventually he was moved up to six. In both positions he was a disaster. But Watson as a cricketer was a bit of a disaster at that point. His body was useless. He gave more press conferences than faced balls. His place in the Australian team never felt secure. And he didn't seem to really know his game at all. That he failed then was not a big surprise. He would have also failed as an opener in that time, but his form was so bad that no one would have tried him there.

Things are different now, Watson's place in the world is secure, and he knows that he can master worldwide attacks. But perhaps he should try it in the middle order much the way he bats in ODI cricket.

An average of mid to high 30s batting at No.6 with a high strike-rate and bowling when he is fit could be very useful to a team that currently has no No.6 and four openers. It could also unshackle Watson, who just doesn't look comfortable as a top-order stalwart, but seems perfectly made as a middle-order enforcer.

Or Australia could try him at No.5, as in 38 Tests they've tried him in every other position from 1-7.

If that doesn't work, perhaps Watson could bowl some spin.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Brad Parker on February 7, 2013, 5:50 GMT

    Shawn Marsh scored a century in his first test...how quickly we forget, he should really be ahead of khawaja in the "hussey" spot thats vacant at the moment. Hughes was right to come in for Ponting, I was relieved to hear it wasn't Quiney, that they prefered the year old Quiney still bewilders me.

  • Mustafa on January 11, 2013, 15:09 GMT

    If selectors haven't figured out what Watson' role should be its their own fault, they have been too greedy with him, they want him to do everything. I can tell you in one sentence what he should be doing.

    Watson should only play odis and T20s, he should not be playing test cricket. Batting him at no 4 in test cricket is a waste of space.

    I am sure people will quote his 19 test and an avg of 49, go back, look at those games, and who he played against, most of those innings were chancy and at least a dropped catch or two for him to get to 80s. When those dropped catches dried up, his scores went down. He will not survive test cricket, and Aus will lose him completely.

    Get your priorities in order, and just play him in Odi and t20. Their are better solid players for test cricket out there. Stop looking for going 4 runs an over all the time, that is not what makes a good test batsman.

    And for goodness sake, please pick Usman over Hughes, Hughes is a walking wkt against good bowlers.

  • Tedward on January 11, 2013, 13:10 GMT

    good article but even better comments, Jason, RichieBenauver and Rooster Joe take a bow.

  • Rooster Joe on January 11, 2013, 4:37 GMT

    Great article...............perhaps Watto could have a go at keeping because Matt Wade is absolutely terrible with the gloves?

  • Neil on January 10, 2013, 16:26 GMT

    I think too many people critics and supports complicate things for Watson. He came back into the team three years ago as an opener, he has averaged around 40, and made runs against good opposition and shown a good technique against the moving ball. He has not converted enough starts into centuries, but equally has made very consistent starts, more so than Warner and Cowan. Australia, have one proven WC batsman now Clarke, a promising 1 in Warner and a bunch of guys yet to prove themselves. So a guy who consistently sees off quality fast bowling, averages around 40 and has the potential to be better, seems a straight pick. He scores more, more consistently and more quickly than Cowan. If he is not fit enough to be genuine bowler, then still he is a pretty useful guy to turn to for 4 or 5 stock overs, better than Matt Wade, surely.

  • Fred C on January 10, 2013, 2:48 GMT

    You hit the nail on the head, he is a "part time" cricketer. A poor man's Matt Hayden at best.

  • Jason on January 9, 2013, 23:50 GMT

    Watson will be a great player when he does just the one thing - cheer up. His miserable on field demeanour is counter productive to good cricket. C'mon Shane, cheer up pal and see the results!

  • Muzammil on January 9, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    IMHO, he has two options. 1) He opens batting and contributes some very useful overs JUST LIKE GAYLE. 2) He bats in lower order and bowls properly like an all-rounder JUST LIKE AFRIDI / YUVRAJ.

    If I have to chose one of these roles, I would go for second one.

  • RichieBenauver on January 9, 2013, 11:33 GMT

    Maybe watto and Johnson could share the number 7 spot? That way, it could become a "lucky dip" position where you just never know what you might get!

  • Imran on January 9, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    Always get the feeling that the entire Australian team is a big Shane Watson-support network, more preoccupied with the question of "how do we get Shane Watson back into the team?" than about picking the best players to win games

  • Brad Parker on February 7, 2013, 5:50 GMT

    Shawn Marsh scored a century in his first test...how quickly we forget, he should really be ahead of khawaja in the "hussey" spot thats vacant at the moment. Hughes was right to come in for Ponting, I was relieved to hear it wasn't Quiney, that they prefered the year old Quiney still bewilders me.

  • Mustafa on January 11, 2013, 15:09 GMT

    If selectors haven't figured out what Watson' role should be its their own fault, they have been too greedy with him, they want him to do everything. I can tell you in one sentence what he should be doing.

    Watson should only play odis and T20s, he should not be playing test cricket. Batting him at no 4 in test cricket is a waste of space.

    I am sure people will quote his 19 test and an avg of 49, go back, look at those games, and who he played against, most of those innings were chancy and at least a dropped catch or two for him to get to 80s. When those dropped catches dried up, his scores went down. He will not survive test cricket, and Aus will lose him completely.

    Get your priorities in order, and just play him in Odi and t20. Their are better solid players for test cricket out there. Stop looking for going 4 runs an over all the time, that is not what makes a good test batsman.

    And for goodness sake, please pick Usman over Hughes, Hughes is a walking wkt against good bowlers.

  • Tedward on January 11, 2013, 13:10 GMT

    good article but even better comments, Jason, RichieBenauver and Rooster Joe take a bow.

  • Rooster Joe on January 11, 2013, 4:37 GMT

    Great article...............perhaps Watto could have a go at keeping because Matt Wade is absolutely terrible with the gloves?

  • Neil on January 10, 2013, 16:26 GMT

    I think too many people critics and supports complicate things for Watson. He came back into the team three years ago as an opener, he has averaged around 40, and made runs against good opposition and shown a good technique against the moving ball. He has not converted enough starts into centuries, but equally has made very consistent starts, more so than Warner and Cowan. Australia, have one proven WC batsman now Clarke, a promising 1 in Warner and a bunch of guys yet to prove themselves. So a guy who consistently sees off quality fast bowling, averages around 40 and has the potential to be better, seems a straight pick. He scores more, more consistently and more quickly than Cowan. If he is not fit enough to be genuine bowler, then still he is a pretty useful guy to turn to for 4 or 5 stock overs, better than Matt Wade, surely.

  • Fred C on January 10, 2013, 2:48 GMT

    You hit the nail on the head, he is a "part time" cricketer. A poor man's Matt Hayden at best.

  • Jason on January 9, 2013, 23:50 GMT

    Watson will be a great player when he does just the one thing - cheer up. His miserable on field demeanour is counter productive to good cricket. C'mon Shane, cheer up pal and see the results!

  • Muzammil on January 9, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    IMHO, he has two options. 1) He opens batting and contributes some very useful overs JUST LIKE GAYLE. 2) He bats in lower order and bowls properly like an all-rounder JUST LIKE AFRIDI / YUVRAJ.

    If I have to chose one of these roles, I would go for second one.

  • RichieBenauver on January 9, 2013, 11:33 GMT

    Maybe watto and Johnson could share the number 7 spot? That way, it could become a "lucky dip" position where you just never know what you might get!

  • Imran on January 9, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    Always get the feeling that the entire Australian team is a big Shane Watson-support network, more preoccupied with the question of "how do we get Shane Watson back into the team?" than about picking the best players to win games

  • Dismayed on January 9, 2013, 4:21 GMT

    Agree with the Watson stuff. Agree Cowans batting is ugly but not effective. Another one of his mates here trying to create a myth that is well and truly busted. Cowan is not Test standard. First class is effective. Does not have what it takes for the big time. Please writers, regardless of how good a bloke Cowan is, he is not a test cricketer.

  • Vignesh R on January 9, 2013, 4:01 GMT

    Perfect about Watson. If he does reads this, the it'll be very clear to him on what role he must perform henceforth...!!!

  • Dan Ced on January 9, 2013, 3:05 GMT

    I agree with some of the points in this article, BUT..

    Cowan is out of his depth and should be dropped. Watson has a history of being a good opener. Cowan doesn't bowl and is an average fielder. Watson should be picked ahead of him EVERY time.

  • Fly on the Wall on January 9, 2013, 2:50 GMT

    To me, one word describes Watson: astonishing. * astonishing that he breaks down so regularly (WHO is writing his fitness programs?) * he always looks astonished that every single ball he bowls in Test cricket does NOT take a wicket * he appears to regard himself as an astonishing athlete * he has astonishing footwork deficiencies, as exposed by his prevalence for getting out lbw. Likewise his pull shot at the MCG. * astonishing that he picks out the fieldsman so regularly His best spot in the Test team is as a No.6 batsman who bowls 10 overs an innings. But look at our suddenly replenished pace bowling stocks and I cannot see how he can earn a spot in the Test team - Taylor and Waugh got by without an allrounder.

  • Shak on January 8, 2013, 23:35 GMT

    Brilliant article. Watson is a talent for Australia but for the sake of Australia's future in test cricket, they should bat him at no. 6 or 7. That way, if/when he gets injured, we can easily slot in a younger batsman or allrounder at 6/7.

    Bottom line is that Australia need to find a strong top 5 and keep them together for as long as possible. eg. Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Usman/someone else, Clarke.

  • Simon on January 8, 2013, 23:01 GMT

    For Tim mainly:

    Allan Border Medalist 2010 | 2011 Test Player of the Year 2011 ODI Player of the Year 2010 | 2011 | 2012 T20 Player of the Year 2012

  • Cameron on January 8, 2013, 22:20 GMT

    Bout time some1 told veryone else what everyone else already knows (apart from the AUS selectors, and apparently the AUS team)! Watson is a no.6!! Please someone in a seat of power read this, it is really starting to drive me nuts!! its the most blatantly obvious thing since Prince Charles' giant ears!!

  • Sifter on January 8, 2013, 19:40 GMT

    I knew it wouldn't take much to get the Watson bashers out again. Is there a more despised Aussie cricketer? Answer: Yes! (Mitchell Johnson...).

    PK's comment hit it on the head: "Why was he asked to change? Because he can". Watson seems to be the most flexible so it's he that gets stuffed into that middle order role, hoping to give him more overs and cover up Australia's woeful hole in young middle order batsmen at the same time. But if the results of the move have failed, and Watson himself dreams of opening again, are we really going to sacrifice Watson for Cowan, a thoroughly mediocre player?

    Just to address Anonymous' complaint about Watson's fielding. I believe he was moved out of first slip to gully in recent Tests so that the slip cordon wouldn't have to change whenever Watson was bowling. I'm guessing a future cordon will be Clarke and Hughes as the 2, Watson at 3rd, Lyon in the gully - and Watson will just never get a 3rd when he bowls.

  • Sammy on January 8, 2013, 19:23 GMT

    Thank you for pointing out the dilemma of the test team and fighting Cowan's corner. Cowan certainly is getting a raw deal, but rarely in his tests has he been out inside the first 10-15 overs. This base of support it important as it will allow our middle order to take advantage later, especially if Watson played a Flitoff/Gilchrist role lower down. Cowan is certainly is capable of big hundreds and once he gets past the 30's mind block he will quickly amass at high number of 100's. Watson playing against tired bowlers and the freedom to expand his game like he does in one day cricket will benefit with fields set tighter and the opportunity to go over the top. Cowan has a good technique and the seaming pitches of England will require that level of skill. Persisting with Cowan instead of opening Watson will bring benefits and stability. Cowan and Warner have also been the highest averaged openers of 2012, above Cook/Strauss, Smith/Peterson.

  • Sammy on January 8, 2013, 19:23 GMT

    Thank you for pointing out the dilemma of the test team and fighting Cowan's corner. Cowan certainly is getting a raw deal, but rarely in his tests has he been out inside the first 10-15 overs. This base of support it important as it will allow our middle order to take advantage later, especially if Watson played a Flitoff/Gilchrist role lower down. Cowan is certainly is capable of big hundreds and once he gets past the 30's mind block he will quickly amass at high number of 100's. Watson playing against tired bowlers and the freedom to expand his game like he does in one day cricket will benefit with fields set tighter and the opportunity to go over the top. Cowan has a good technique and the seaming pitches of England will require that level of skill. Persisting with Cowan instead of opening Watson will bring benefits and stability. Cowan and Warner have also been the highest averaged openers of 2012, above Cook/Strauss, Smith/Peterson.

  • nareshgb on January 8, 2013, 18:53 GMT

    excellent analysis. I am just tempted to add that the obvious ill influence of IPL is missed here (regardless of the fact of Sunny saying once in a while how the IPL actually made Watson (which might be true after all - but now it is un-making him - the double edged sword, you gott aknow when to drop it)).

  • Sarthak on January 8, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    Watto at 6 is perfect. If he can't bowl alongside batting his position becomes uncertain though. But like you said, you can not have players from whom you don't expect big innings in your top 4 or 5. Watson should restart at 6 and if he can advance to no 5 (through performance rather than continuous shuffling)its going to be good for him and his team... India & Australia seem to be made for each other for the upcoming Test series! Good but troubled Batting & mediocre Bowling vs mediocre Batting & Good but troubled Bowling. That's India against Australia!

  • Jethro B on January 8, 2013, 15:14 GMT

    Superb article. Let's hope this madness ends sooner rather than later.

  • Fryzer on January 8, 2013, 15:03 GMT

    We have just lost a true pro and team player in Mike Hussey and are devoting too much space to a total self promoter and under achiever in Watson. How can some one be a team player who openly states that he wants to return to opening, meaning, nick off Cowan, because he has been a dismal failure else ware? How he has been made vice captain of this side is beyond me. Cameo innings and bowling spells do not equate to some one who can return us the Ashes. We are desperately in need of technically sound batsmen who can leave balls alone in the corridor of uncertainty a la Huss and hit the 4 balls regularly. Being a realist, I fear another thrashing in the upcoming Ashes series. Huss also made a big mistake in choosing Lyon to lead the team song unless he improves dramatically or we fail to unearth a spinner of class in the next year or so. I fear a dismal few years ahead unless we have wickets favouring our abundance of quicks.

  • alanm on January 8, 2013, 14:39 GMT

    Watson is a problem that any other Test country would love to have. I'd bat him at 6 with a license to hit (Wade to shepherd the tail from 7) and let him bowl 10 overs or less a day. Then every day he can pretend it's an ODI. Or send him back to opening again and limit his bowling to almost nothing (Warner and Clarke to pick up the slack). He was good enough to deserve another chance at the opening slot.

  • Ben on January 8, 2013, 14:21 GMT

    Outstanding article. If I was reading Watson's CV I'd be worried he's a dilentante. Bats 1 or 3 or 4 or 6. Bowls brisk fast medium or solid into the wind or dibbly swingers and cutters in short spells... Versatility is an asset but he needs to make up his mind what to do. Great teams have stability and we cannot continuously juggle our team around him. Ten years ago our team barely change roles at all because everyone did the job required. Even Mr Versatile (because of such a good technique) Mike Hussey barely moved. For mine he is well good enough to be a regular in the test team. He should probably bat at 6 and bowl. A 6 needs openers' qualities for the second new ball. Langer started at WA at six. Conversely, Hussey (I think) opened a little. I like the mediums. It gives variety. he is accurate and can swing a ball. He breaks partnerships without leaking runs. Think young Waugh twins or SO'D. All bowled more than 4 overs an inning. Who says he won't get hurt batting anyway?

  • Ajay on January 8, 2013, 14:07 GMT

    Australia is going to lose heavily in India and England. Their top order is unreliable (how many times shave they been 30/3 before being rescued by Clarke. Their middle order without Hussey is nothing. They dont have a spinner and their bowlers have not proved themselves on foreign shores.

    I am expecting a 4-0 defeat against India.

  • bahavan on January 8, 2013, 13:41 GMT

    Watson aren't made for tests some his shots ugly (flat batted swipe off a spinner for a straight six) in ODIs T20s you need temporary concentration but test requires absolute concentration and soft hands.the problem is he plays more with a horizontal bat than a straight bat.this is not the first case of a struggling allrounder (ex-A Matthews,shakib al-hasan)

  • bahavan on January 8, 2013, 13:31 GMT

    LOL "Watson can bowl spin"

  • Dr Snipitoff on January 8, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    @sifter. How many ashes series were won during Watson's 'golden glory'? He is at least not like Sangakkara or Jayawardene that just score a fifty in a test match and cry that the bowlers let them down. But I think like on several occasions now that his physique doesn't really help or he's just too prone to injury when you think of the amount of rugby built cricketers like Hansie Cronje or Lance Klusener had during their careers, he's a featherweight.

  • Luke Dixon on January 8, 2013, 11:41 GMT

    Can't say I agree with the sentiments in this article. Are you seriously saying that Cowan is a better option than Watson? Cowan has just 1 test century and his slow batting undoes all of Warner's good work and let's not talk about his poor running between wickets. Watson as an opener always got a start- sure he didn't go on with the job, but wouldn't you take 30-40 runs from an opener every day of the week? Especially against top quality bowling. Watson to replace Cowan as test opener is a no brainer

  • Raad on January 8, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    The Oz selectors/management need to stop rushing players back into the squad. Fit on paper doesn't mean u can play 5 days of international cricket. If he is declared fit, he should start playing shield games where he bats and bowls 10-20 overs properly. Then he should re-enter the side. Until then, other plays should be given a chance depending on the situation (Maxwell or Bird if bowler needed or Khawaja if batsman needed). He should also not play T20/ODI cricket for a while if he is to play Tests, or conversely, he can be dropped from Test matches and utilised as a T20/ODI specialist.

  • mani khan on January 8, 2013, 10:51 GMT

    i am a pakistani and i am a fan of australian cricket since 15 years.watto is the best allrounder in the world.since 2009 he has scored 6000 runs and more then 150 wickets with 20 man of the match awards which is more than any other player with more then any one winning performances..so open your eyes and stop talking about him.without ponting,hussy and now watto aussie cricket will be come dead.

  • The Muffin Man on January 8, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    Jarrod, why do you believe that suddenly moving him to bat at 5 or 6 will resolve his injuries he gets from bowling?

  • Kazbar on January 8, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    Watson has not been making runs because he has not had the time to get fit, plain and simple. He gets injured frequently and is then rushed back into the side before gaining full fitness.

    Last year he managed a large period of fitness and made tremendous runs at opener, that is where he is best suited when he is fit. Perhaps dropping his bowling rate will help to keep him fit and give him the chance to regain his form.

  • Anonymous on January 8, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    The other myth not looked at is that Watson can field. Where? Clarke clearly doesn't want him in the slips, even when he had a sore calf he was out of the catching positions. His injuries appear to have stiffened up his movements and he no longer has the fluidity and smootheness he once had. Only spot left is #7 and bowling 15 -20 overs

  • Andrew schulz on January 8, 2013, 9:15 GMT

    I cannot understand why this article is receiving so much praise. Probably because the praise-fivers know as little about the game as Kimber. Watson was exceptional as an opener from 2009 till 2011, lost the spot through injury, and should get it back now whether or not he bowls.Kimber's defense of Cowan is utterly baffling, pointing to a small sample of Watson's opening career as defense of Cowan's place. That is a joke. Cowan cost us the series against SA through dropped catches, has not learnt from many mistakes running between the wickets, and is just not a test cricketer. Saying he was the difference in Sydney just shows how awful an analyst of test. Cricket jarrod Kimber is.

  • Terry Jones of Australia on January 8, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    I think that Cricket Australia have to be realistic here. How good is watson as a batsmen? Can Watson score enough at least 40 runs per wicket? I think the problem is that Watson is bowling too much. He is bowling as a front line bowler. He should be bowling no more then 12 overs in one day, with no more then five overs in one spell and only one spell per session. I believe that Cricket Australia needs to inform Clarke that Watson is more then a part-time bowler but less then a full-time bowler. 8-12 overs per day is what they should be using him as. Australia should have four full time bowlers (three x six over spells) and two secondary bowlers (8 to 12 overs in four over spells). Australia should look to have Watson and another player each bowling small spells. Perhaps Johnson could specialise as a secondary bowler and they both look to improve their bowling.

  • Steven Bell on January 8, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    Watson is really overrated. I could never work out why?

  • ygkd on January 8, 2013, 7:48 GMT

    Watson's role in Australian cricket is that of the all-round enigma. Too good to be out of the Test team and not good enough to be in it.

  • KG on January 8, 2013, 7:41 GMT

    very good article Jarrod.

    One thing to add: Did you realise that even the two centuries he got in test cricket is due to dropped chances ?!!!

    HE simply makes too many mistakes when batting, be it hitting the ball in the air or missing straight balls to get lbw.

    In ODIs and T20s if you can last 50-100 balls you will have a good score. Unfortunately in tests if you can last 50-100 balls you are simply not good enough (nor have you scored enough)

  • Nigel Hunter on January 8, 2013, 7:02 GMT

    We can write all we want about Shane Watson and why he cannot play as just a batsman ... but who else. I terms of stats the cupboard is bare. He averages 43 in first class and 37 in test. Who have we got otherwise is the question ? Kwahja just and the list ends there. Until Australia produces wickets that allow batsmen to score runs at domestic level we have problems. Average medium pace bowlers averaging less than 25 with the ball is the norm. No spinners get to bowl long spells so we have none. Results is one thing but surely we should be trying to produce test cricketers.

  • Ian on January 8, 2013, 6:41 GMT

    Jarrod, really good article. Gideon sited the interesting stat, talking to you I think, that Watto plays an incredible amount of dot-balls when batting. Hits the occasional boundary and then nothing. Hence the low strike-rate. This isn't a good thing for a test player especially against nagging spinners.

    How many hundreds has he hit in first-class cricket? or has he not really played much because he's been on the treatment table so often?

    I do wonder if Watson is an excellent ODI and T20 player when he opens the bat & bowls a few overs, if needed. Perhaps he's had his days in Test Cricket.

    Oh, how people like Law, Lehmann, Bevan, Love, etc in the 90s and early 2000s must chuckle to think if only they had been borne in any other country would have been first up Test selections but between them only played a handful of tests. (well say 50 combined)

  • Kaiser on January 8, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    Finally someone tells it like it is! Watson is NOT a test class batsman, nor should he be put under that kind of pressure. Batting at six and with Wade and then with the tail he would have a bit of license to 'go the tonk' and it would be more akin to 1-day cricket.

  • Tim on January 8, 2013, 5:47 GMT

    I'm scratching my head in trying to think of a more over rated Australian player than Watson in the last 20 years.

  • Bee on January 8, 2013, 5:11 GMT

    Fantastic analysis!

  • John on January 8, 2013, 5:09 GMT

    I loved the article but have one question: Who are the four openers? I count none.

  • Musa on January 8, 2013, 5:04 GMT

    Perhaps, as you say, considering his attack plundering abilities in the short form of the game, Watson should bat at 10 or 11 in the test team- that way he KNOWS he'll have a short time to do anything useful with the bat and will(apparently) plunder as a tail ender should. He'll be able to bowl his special once a month spells(before a muscle is pulled) and be rotated with the likes of Starc, Johnson and co who can also slog. The only way I can see any gain for Australia in persisting with this injury prone lad is to play him at 10(or11) and make him a specialist night watchman! Otherwise change the 12th man rule so that as soon as he injures himself during the game a replacement is allowed to take his place.

  • Doug on January 8, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    Interesting observations. But if Watson doesn't open, surely Australia cannot persist with Cowan. I guess Warner and Hughes could be the new combo, but we lack a batting spine at 3 and 4. With Ponting and Hussey gone, Clarke needs to lead the charge and he needs a partner. Who?

  • Doug on January 8, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    Interesting observations. But if Watson doesn't open, surely Australia cannot persist with Cowan. I guess Warner and Hughes could be the new combo, but we lack a batting spine at 3 and 4. With Ponting and Hussey gone, Clarke needs to lead the charge and he needs a partner. Who?

  • Logger on January 8, 2013, 4:25 GMT

    All good points, but Watson can't handle spin, either. Which makes him remarkably vulnerable batting at 5, doesn't it?

  • SPD on January 8, 2013, 4:25 GMT

    I dont think he can make it as a batsman only. If he cant bowl then he is not worth a place in the test team. Invest in Doolan, Cooper, Kwahja etc

  • Hobartia on January 8, 2013, 3:55 GMT

    I think the one myth that Jarrod has inadvertently bought into is that we should let Watson's cricketing identity crisis play out in the international arena. Sure he has 'pure throbbing talent', but since when was talent the main determinant of selection? Performances are what matter, and until Watto can figure himself, and his cricketing role out, then he doesn't deserve to be in the national team. He should go back to shield, and if he tears it up there as either a batsman or bowler, then we should reselect him. If he can't resolve his persistent issues, then we've got our answer.

  • Hobartia on January 8, 2013, 3:55 GMT

    I think the one myth that Jarrod has inadvertently bought into is that we should let Watson's cricketing identity crisis play out in the international arena. Sure he has 'pure throbbing talent', but since when was talent the main determinant of selection? Performances are what matter, and until Watto can figure himself, and his cricketing role out, then he doesn't deserve to be in the national team. He should go back to shield, and if he tears it up there as either a batsman or bowler, then we should reselect him. If he can't resolve his persistent issues, then we've got our answer.

  • Jimp on January 8, 2013, 3:31 GMT

    Watsons poor technique against spin means he will probably not suceed batting lower down the order. I would give him another go at opening tell him he is a batsmen but throw him the ball every now and then. If he can't average more than 40 then look at someone else

  • Michael Pinto on January 8, 2013, 3:17 GMT

    Very incisive article Jarrod. Not too many writers have covered the fact that Watson can only play at one pace at all times, which is why he gets out so often when approaching 100. At times like this, astute opposition bowlers have played on his weakness to construct an innings in several stages, and they set him up for a big shot. What you didn't cover however Jarrod, is Watson's general weakness against spin, especially when he first gets in. Your suggestion that he comes in at no 6 would challenge his limitations against spin, but I guess it is the best of all options, especially considering there are few experienced all rounders of the caliber of Watson that is open to us at the moment. He could still be valuable because of the unexpected loss of Test experience in the Australian team of today. Besides, it would also solve the embarrassing issue of Vice Captain!!

  • RonanL on January 8, 2013, 3:05 GMT

    Totally agree. Great for England if Australia insist on picking Watto for his batting only - effectively saying is is one of the best 6 batsmen in Australia they they have a huge taks to regain the Ashes.

  • The Fridge on January 8, 2013, 2:50 GMT

    Watson should bat at 5/6 and bowl as fifth bowler - simple really, he's not an opener he sure ain't a 3/4 and Clarke should be batting himself at 4. Once Cowan gets dropped Hughes goes to opening and Khawja to 3 simple!

  • mike on January 8, 2013, 2:48 GMT

    Spot on, great article! Seems Watson is more intent on telling everyone what he can and wants to do rather than making any runs

  • mike on January 8, 2013, 2:47 GMT

    Spot on, great article! Seems Watson is more intent on telling everyone what he can and wants to do rather than making any runs

  • Tim on January 8, 2013, 2:37 GMT

    I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this blogpost, Mr. Kimber. I know I'm incredibly biased against Watson but this just reminds me that there is so much substance behind my negativity about him. It also reminds me that most of my negativity about him is to do with his batting and the amount of praise he gets for it from the selectors and the general media. In comparison, I actually do rate him as a bowler. He has a lot of intelligence and guile about him, something that the likes of Siddle (earlier in his career), Hilfenhaus, Johnson and others often seem to lack. Re Watson vs Johnson, at least Watson can keep his wrist straight!

  • Tim on January 8, 2013, 2:28 GMT

    I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this blogpost, Mr. Kimber. I know I'm incredibly biased against Watson but this just reminds me that there is so much substance behind my negativity about him. It also reminds me that most of my negativity about him is to do with his batting and the amount of praise he gets for it from the selectors and the general media. In comparison, I actually do rate him as a bowler. He has a lot of intelligence and guile about him, something that the likes of Siddle (earlier in his career), Hilfenhaus, Johnson and others often seem to lack. Re Watson vs Johnson, at least Watson can keep his wrist straight!

  • Itsallabouttheashes on January 8, 2013, 2:17 GMT

    I always saw Watson as a number 6 and with Hussey gone this is the time to try him there (if fit). I can't see Australia wining the ashes without Watson contributing both bat and ball. Australia should concentrate in getting a stable top 4 that can contribute ....Clarke can't do it all himself and I do think Watson at 6 would provide support to Clarke and quick runs with the tail

  • Itsallabouttheashes on January 8, 2013, 2:17 GMT

    I always saw Watson as a number 6 and with Hussey gone this is the time to try him there (if fit). I can't see Australia wining the ashes without Watson contributing both bat and ball. Australia should concentrate in getting a stable top 4 that can contribute ....Clarke can't do it all himself and I do think Watson at 6 would provide support to Clarke and quick runs with the tail

  • Itsallabouttheashes on January 8, 2013, 2:17 GMT

    I always saw Watson as a number 6 and with Hussey gone this is the time to try him there (if fit). I can't see Australia wining the ashes without Watson contributing both bat and ball. Australia should concentrate in getting a stable top 4 that can contribute ....Clarke can't do it all himself and I do think Watson at 6 would provide support to Clarke and quick runs with the tail

  • Si on January 8, 2013, 2:06 GMT

    Nicely reasoned argument, but ultimately a moot point. Watson is injured more than available. Far better test cricketers have been given less chances on better Test records. Give him limited overs games when not injured and use his test spot for a long term batting prospect to gain Test experience. We're effectively operating with four bowlers now, with the selectors hard to fathom decision to keep picking the ineffective slow-medium bowler Lyon. Speaking of which, isn't it ludicrous to rotate out bowlers who take 4/5 fa's, but keep giving Test Matches to a bloke who can't take a wicket on a spinners strip?

  • PK on January 8, 2013, 2:00 GMT

    Shane Watson can do EVERYTHING. That's part of the problem. That, and his injury disruptions. Do you know why his early innings as an opener were so successful? Because he was able to stick at it for so long. He would be just as successful as a specialist 3, 4 or 5, or an all-round 6 or 7 if he could just get some continuity. But as much as injury has disrupted his career, so have changes of role. Why was he asked to change? Because he can. And as for his failure to convert 50's into 100's, well I would rather a consistent opener than one who occasionally made big scores, which is exactly what he was.

  • Funky dunc on January 8, 2013, 1:38 GMT

    Great article with the five Watson myths clearly explained. One can manipulate stats to prove one myth but not when there are five myths to Watson's Test performances. Let him hit some centuries in Shield cricket and then come back in Hussey's spot. No. 5 or 6 is the only spot he should be considered for. And that only after he has hit some serious scores.

  • Joseph Langford on January 8, 2013, 1:24 GMT

    Watson's recent form has been terrible and I do not know what the issue is about.

    Since the Sri Lankan Tour of 2011 his batting average is 26.4. So it is lower than Cowan's average, but everyone wants Cowan to go.

    His bowling average over the same period is 27, but he has only taken 19 wickets. Take out one innings in Cape Town where he took five wickets and it gets worse. Further to this he has only taken 7-wicket in the past 7 Tests that he has played.

    Sorry but it is back to Sheffield Shield. It worked for Hughes.

  • James on January 8, 2013, 0:54 GMT

    So what your saying is he isnt a test batsmen. He should give up batting and learn to bowl slow left arm spin could help against english batsmen in the ashes.

  • Raj on January 8, 2013, 0:50 GMT

    We discovered Shane Watson could open the batting,when through a brilliant piece of thinking,Phil Hughes was axed in the Ashes 2009 after England found him out. Shane Watson would STILL be opening had he not been injured.Now we have Ed Cowan and David Warner. Ed Cowan,like Shane Watson, IS SOLID AS A ROCK - may not score centuries galore,but builds a strong foundation. David Warner is a 0 or 100.So WAS Phil Hughes.Now he has improved his technique,and s playing well in place of Ponting.The only other Rock Solid openers are Usman Khawaja and Rob Quiney.We need a solid Number 6 too. So I would suggest we do not tinker too much with the Line - Up post Mike Hussey's retirement.Ed Cowan, David Warner,Phil Hughes,Shane Watson,Michael Clarke,Usman Khawaja,Mathew Wade,then 3 quicks and one spinner.

  • Raj on January 8, 2013, 0:50 GMT

    We discovered Shane Watson could open the batting,when through a brilliant piece of thinking,Phil Hughes was axed in the Ashes 2009 after England found him out. Shane Watson would STILL be opening had he not been injured.Now we have Ed Cowan and David Warner. Ed Cowan,like Shane Watson, IS SOLID AS A ROCK - may not score centuries galore,but builds a strong foundation. David Warner is a 0 or 100.So WAS Phil Hughes.Now he has improved his technique,and s playing well in place of Ponting.The only other Rock Solid openers are Usman Khawaja and Rob Quiney.We need a solid Number 6 too. So I would suggest we do not tinker too much with the Line - Up post Mike Hussey's retirement.Ed Cowan, David Warner,Phil Hughes,Shane Watson,Michael Clarke,Usman Khawaja,Mathew Wade,then 3 quicks and one spinner.

  • Raj on January 8, 2013, 0:50 GMT

    We discovered Shane Watson could open the batting,when through a brilliant piece of thinking,Phil Hughes was axed in the Ashes 2009 after England found him out. Shane Watson would STILL be opening had he not been injured.Now we have Ed Cowan and David Warner. Ed Cowan,like Shane Watson, IS SOLID AS A ROCK - may not score centuries galore,but builds a strong foundation. David Warner is a 0 or 100.So WAS Phil Hughes.Now he has improved his technique,and s playing well in place of Ponting.The only other Rock Solid openers are Usman Khawaja and Rob Quiney.We need a solid Number 6 too. So I would suggest we do not tinker too much with the Line - Up post Mike Hussey's retirement.Ed Cowan, David Warner,Phil Hughes,Shane Watson,Michael Clarke,Usman Khawaja,Mathew Wade,then 3 quicks and one spinner.

  • Raj on January 8, 2013, 0:50 GMT

    We discovered Shane Watson could open the batting,when through a brilliant piece of thinking,Phil Hughes was axed in the Ashes 2009 after England found him out. Shane Watson would STILL be opening had he not been injured.Now we have Ed Cowan and David Warner. Ed Cowan,like Shane Watson, IS SOLID AS A ROCK - may not score centuries galore,but builds a strong foundation. David Warner is a 0 or 100.So WAS Phil Hughes.Now he has improved his technique,and s playing well in place of Ponting.The only other Rock Solid openers are Usman Khawaja and Rob Quiney.We need a solid Number 6 too. So I would suggest we do not tinker too much with the Line - Up post Mike Hussey's retirement.Ed Cowan, David Warner,Phil Hughes,Shane Watson,Michael Clarke,Usman Khawaja,Mathew Wade,then 3 quicks and one spinner.

  • warne3 on January 8, 2013, 0:09 GMT

    This is so spot on. I hope a few cricinfo posters read this and take it on board. He has clearly gone by the wayside over the last two years, for whatever reason. Not conistently playing wouldnt help his cause but i think he needs to prove he is a more consistent run scorer than those on the fringes aka Hughes and Khawaja via some Shield cricket

  • Vinay Kolhatkar on January 7, 2013, 23:47 GMT

    Watson should bat at 6. He is good against spin, see his record in the IPL. The spin weakness was five or more years ago. Now the moving ball gets him lbw. End of story. He should bowl when he can. If that injures him, get Andrew McDonald back in the side or take David Hussey. They can bowl without getting injured. Plus with Warner and Clarke both able to bowl decent spin, Australia does not require a fifth bowler, they have six already without Watson. But Watto is a very good bowler in seaming conditions. In England against Pakistan, he won the test with his bowling.

  • Stephen on January 7, 2013, 23:26 GMT

    Excellent article. Watson never got over the loss of Simon Katich as an opening partner.

  • zenboomerang on January 7, 2013, 23:20 GMT

    @Jarrod Kimber... Interesting article as it has said what many of us have been saying for years - but all in one article - due to the space limitations of posts...

    It would have been good if you had also expanded on what you skirted around - Watto batting everywhere (except no.5) in the batsmens order - & the selection dilemma this creates when he gets moved around or is out due to constant injuries... Batting at no.6 or 7 is his best team position, for when he needs replacing it can be for another allrounder or a fledging new batsman, thus putting the batting squad under less pressure...

  • Andrew on January 7, 2013, 23:18 GMT

    "If that doesn’t work, perhaps Watson could bowl some spin."

    Brilliant! Mind you, everyone - literally including the assistant groundsman (Lyon) - has been tried in that role for AUS since Worn so why wouldn't they give that a go?

  • Matt on January 7, 2013, 23:12 GMT

    Finally an article that says exactly what I have been thinking for a long time, that in test cricket Watson is not the vital clog that holds the whole team together and is the only reason Australia wins (which is what many "experts", especially those working for Channel 9 say)but is actually quickly becoming a liability trying to fit him into the side for apparently no reason other then its Shane Watson and we need him in the side.

  • MinusZero on January 7, 2013, 22:50 GMT

    Great story, lets just hope the selectors see it and realise that Watson isn't as great as they think. Watson would better serve australia batting at 6 or 7. If he doesnt bowl, he shouldnt be selected. Lets get a young late middle order player in there to develop. So many years have been wasted on Watson. He should play a season of first class cricket to prove his fitness. Personally, I blame Clarke. Ponting knew how to manage Watson's bowling to keep him on the park, Clarke doesnt, hence why Watson has been injured so much since Clarke took the captaincy.

  • Michael Sutherland on January 7, 2013, 22:50 GMT

    A classic article. Witty and pithy and, you have to admit, insightful. I hope Invers and co are paying attention.

  • Peter Hamilton on January 7, 2013, 22:45 GMT

    Great article. He also gets out early too often to be legitimately considered a top 6 specialist bat, which is another key reason why the average is in the 30's and not the 40s.

    He should bat at 6 and continue bowling, because that's when he is valuable, and we should be grateful for what we get out of it. If that turns out to be not much due to injury, then so be it.

    Finally, I wish other writers would stop making any reference to Kallis when talking about Watson's value to the team. Brian McMillan is a better comparison.

  • Anonymous on January 7, 2013, 22:44 GMT

    a classic article. witty and pithy, and you have to admit, insightful!

  • justin on January 7, 2013, 22:41 GMT

    Brilliant article, have been saying the same stuff myself. Particularly love the "gives more press conferences than balls faced" LOL

  • David Raj on January 7, 2013, 22:12 GMT

    Brilliant analysis.

  • Goodie on January 7, 2013, 21:42 GMT

    I think all this chopping and changing with Watto is the issue he is in such poor form (for him) at the moment. The selectors need to be accertive and say "Watto, you are number 5" and leave him there.

    My opinion, presently I would like to see 1.Warner 2. Cowan 3. Hughes 4. Clarke 5. Watto 6. Kwaja (spelling??) then the bowlers.

    It would also benifet to bowl Warner more (to take pressure off Watto a bit). He has impressive flight and turn for a part time spinner. This is not saying that they shouldn't play a dedicater spinner and Lyon has been doing a reasonable job (better if he wiped of 10kph).

    The reason I put Kwaja at 6, is the Aussies need someone to fill Mike Hussey's void, and Dave Hussey is too old to start doing that. Kwaja would be better, the last line of defence before the bowlers.

  • JamesH on January 7, 2013, 21:37 GMT

    Surely now that Hussey has retired they could bat Wade 6 and Watson 7 (or vice versa)? That way he could still keep his bowling, which has been more important to the test team than his batting over the last couple of years. Ussie could just slot in at 4.

  • Hannes on January 7, 2013, 21:23 GMT

    Great article and certainly gets one thinking.

    I don't understand why Watson/Pat Howard/Cricket Australia/Michael Clarke have not suggested and then enforced that his body shape be changed. To me he still looks at least 10kg's too big for test cricket.

    I'm sure as Michael Clarke can attest, that a change in fitness can have a significant impact on your ability to score hundreds. It will surely also help his durability as a bowler.

    I think Australia are still feeling the effects of John Buchanan who had an emphasis on fast bowlers being big and strong. To me thats a myth. Steyn, Lee (I know he has foot problems), Anderson seem to have the perfect build for durable fast bowling.

    Fit and slim.

  • Gonzo on January 7, 2013, 21:09 GMT

    Great article, one of the best on Cricinfo for a while. It's nice to read something that exposes myths rather than perpetuate them.

  • Dave Stephen on January 7, 2013, 20:57 GMT

    Very accurate assessment. I have always thought the same of Watson, methinks that many Aussie journalists (and selectors?) also do but it is best to keep quiet and hope. It is not the Aussie way to complain. Also seems to me that Watson rates himself highly, this may be one of his key problems. Not many days ago there was strong talk of him captaining the test side!!!!

  • Dave Stephen on January 7, 2013, 20:57 GMT

    Very accurate assessment. I have always thought the same of Watson, methinks that many Aussie journalists (and selectors?) also do but it is best to keep quiet and hope. It is not the Aussie way to complain. Also seems to me that Watson rates himself highly, this may be one of his key problems. Not many days ago there was strong talk of him captaining the test side!!!!

  • Zatu on January 7, 2013, 20:52 GMT

    Watson should bat at 5 and bowl and no pressure to just reduce the run rate in test cricket. Alternatevely, the bloke should retire test cricket and play as aggressive batsman in T20 and ODIs. He is too talented a cricketer to be ignored.

  • PL on January 7, 2013, 20:52 GMT

    A great post. I particularly like it when strike rates are revealed. A lot of batsmen have received undeserved reputations over the years for being either aggressive or defensive based more on how perception than performance. For example Justin Langer was defined as a plodder yet had a better strike rate (and average) than his more fancied contemporaries Mark Waugh and Michael Slater. And I too have felt on many occasions Watson has looked the most dangerous bowler in the attack. In short, an overrated batsman and an underrated bowler.

  • alan on January 7, 2013, 20:34 GMT

    I agree 100% - an explosive ODI/T20 style watson batting at number 7 is the perfect allrounder as he could quickly take a game away from an opposition if the top 6 get a good start and he is decent enough to be able to knuckle down and bat with a proper batter if they need a start... never could understand why everyone wants him to open, I would rather have a flintoff style allrounder and make use of watsons bowling and leave the batting to the real batters who can bat for days

  • busie1979 on January 7, 2013, 20:27 GMT

    Agree with most of the comments and definitely the conclusion. But I think he's playing the wrong role. He's been overrated as a batsman and underrated as a bowler.

    It is slightly unfair to characterise him as a trundler. He bowls in the low 140s when fully fit. He is a top 4 bowler at FC level but wouldn't be close to test selection on bowling along. At test level he is an impact bowler who can't bowl for long periods. It would be a shame to put that in the sink.

    Likewise with his batting. He is a genuine batsman at FC level, but at test level he is more of a number 7 batsman that a top 6 batsman. At test level he is an impact batsman who can't bat for long periods.

    In other words, he is a very capable test all rounder, his impact makes him more than a bits and pieces cricketer, but he lacks a clear specialty ala Khan, Kallis, Pollock, Miller or Sobers. But a very good player.

  • uton on January 7, 2013, 20:06 GMT

    Dont know why he is being asked to bowl,,his batting in limited format is better than everyone elses...

  • Alex on January 7, 2013, 19:48 GMT

    Excellent article Jarrod! You have hit the problem on the head. The Aussie team has dropped down in rankings because it doesnt make enough runs and cant bowl teams out twice. Like Mitchell Johnson, Watto is consistently inconsistent - his bowling is good but his reliability cannot be counted upon; his batting is sub-average but can be counted upon (when fit to play). He is a nearly-man and a perfect example of the post-modern over-coached and over-indulged protege who ends up pleasing no one - least of all himself. Mike Hussey was an opener who slotted into where the team needed him (and arguably his stats have suffered as a result); Watto is trying to be a Test Cricket Everyman, and it just doesn't work as the results advertise. Yes he is a talent - but he has shown that he just can't get the job done. On that note, I can't think of any selection criteria more important.

  • Sifter on January 7, 2013, 19:40 GMT

    There is ZERO mention of 2009-2010/11 Shane Watson in this piece, and I'm not sure why. THAT is the Watson that we need in the Aussie Test side, a very consistent opener who averaged 49.88 over the 19 Tests in that period, while taking 29 wickets @ 29.41. The question that should be asked is why hasn't that Watson appeared recently? His batting form in T20/ODIs has been generally good, so the obvious answer is that he keeps getting screwed by selectors who aren't sure what they want - a message that seems to have gotten to Watson too. Can't be good for your batting confidence when selectors say you wont be picked if you cant bowl...

    Pointing at his 2011 and 2012 numbers isn't as helpful in my opinion. He's played sporadically (3 Tests in SL, 2 in SA 2mths later, then 3 in WI 6mths later, 3 this summer), and played in 3 different batting spots.

    The myth that should be mentioned is this one: one troublesome calf means he can never regain his former glory.

  • Alex on January 7, 2013, 19:34 GMT

    Watto would make a jolly fine 12th man!

  • Anonymous on January 7, 2013, 19:17 GMT

    Thank you, you have explained exactly what I have thought all along. Watson has never fitted into test cricket.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Anonymous on January 7, 2013, 19:17 GMT

    Thank you, you have explained exactly what I have thought all along. Watson has never fitted into test cricket.

  • Alex on January 7, 2013, 19:34 GMT

    Watto would make a jolly fine 12th man!

  • Sifter on January 7, 2013, 19:40 GMT

    There is ZERO mention of 2009-2010/11 Shane Watson in this piece, and I'm not sure why. THAT is the Watson that we need in the Aussie Test side, a very consistent opener who averaged 49.88 over the 19 Tests in that period, while taking 29 wickets @ 29.41. The question that should be asked is why hasn't that Watson appeared recently? His batting form in T20/ODIs has been generally good, so the obvious answer is that he keeps getting screwed by selectors who aren't sure what they want - a message that seems to have gotten to Watson too. Can't be good for your batting confidence when selectors say you wont be picked if you cant bowl...

    Pointing at his 2011 and 2012 numbers isn't as helpful in my opinion. He's played sporadically (3 Tests in SL, 2 in SA 2mths later, then 3 in WI 6mths later, 3 this summer), and played in 3 different batting spots.

    The myth that should be mentioned is this one: one troublesome calf means he can never regain his former glory.

  • Alex on January 7, 2013, 19:48 GMT

    Excellent article Jarrod! You have hit the problem on the head. The Aussie team has dropped down in rankings because it doesnt make enough runs and cant bowl teams out twice. Like Mitchell Johnson, Watto is consistently inconsistent - his bowling is good but his reliability cannot be counted upon; his batting is sub-average but can be counted upon (when fit to play). He is a nearly-man and a perfect example of the post-modern over-coached and over-indulged protege who ends up pleasing no one - least of all himself. Mike Hussey was an opener who slotted into where the team needed him (and arguably his stats have suffered as a result); Watto is trying to be a Test Cricket Everyman, and it just doesn't work as the results advertise. Yes he is a talent - but he has shown that he just can't get the job done. On that note, I can't think of any selection criteria more important.

  • uton on January 7, 2013, 20:06 GMT

    Dont know why he is being asked to bowl,,his batting in limited format is better than everyone elses...

  • busie1979 on January 7, 2013, 20:27 GMT

    Agree with most of the comments and definitely the conclusion. But I think he's playing the wrong role. He's been overrated as a batsman and underrated as a bowler.

    It is slightly unfair to characterise him as a trundler. He bowls in the low 140s when fully fit. He is a top 4 bowler at FC level but wouldn't be close to test selection on bowling along. At test level he is an impact bowler who can't bowl for long periods. It would be a shame to put that in the sink.

    Likewise with his batting. He is a genuine batsman at FC level, but at test level he is more of a number 7 batsman that a top 6 batsman. At test level he is an impact batsman who can't bat for long periods.

    In other words, he is a very capable test all rounder, his impact makes him more than a bits and pieces cricketer, but he lacks a clear specialty ala Khan, Kallis, Pollock, Miller or Sobers. But a very good player.

  • alan on January 7, 2013, 20:34 GMT

    I agree 100% - an explosive ODI/T20 style watson batting at number 7 is the perfect allrounder as he could quickly take a game away from an opposition if the top 6 get a good start and he is decent enough to be able to knuckle down and bat with a proper batter if they need a start... never could understand why everyone wants him to open, I would rather have a flintoff style allrounder and make use of watsons bowling and leave the batting to the real batters who can bat for days

  • PL on January 7, 2013, 20:52 GMT

    A great post. I particularly like it when strike rates are revealed. A lot of batsmen have received undeserved reputations over the years for being either aggressive or defensive based more on how perception than performance. For example Justin Langer was defined as a plodder yet had a better strike rate (and average) than his more fancied contemporaries Mark Waugh and Michael Slater. And I too have felt on many occasions Watson has looked the most dangerous bowler in the attack. In short, an overrated batsman and an underrated bowler.

  • Zatu on January 7, 2013, 20:52 GMT

    Watson should bat at 5 and bowl and no pressure to just reduce the run rate in test cricket. Alternatevely, the bloke should retire test cricket and play as aggressive batsman in T20 and ODIs. He is too talented a cricketer to be ignored.

  • Dave Stephen on January 7, 2013, 20:57 GMT

    Very accurate assessment. I have always thought the same of Watson, methinks that many Aussie journalists (and selectors?) also do but it is best to keep quiet and hope. It is not the Aussie way to complain. Also seems to me that Watson rates himself highly, this may be one of his key problems. Not many days ago there was strong talk of him captaining the test side!!!!