Australia v India, CB Series, Sydney February 26, 2012

Captaincy distracted Watson from fitness issues


Shane Watson has said captaining Australia in his first match back from an extended injury lay-off helped him think less about his temperamental body. The 87-run defeat of India at the SCG was Watson's first match as captain of Australia, and he looked at home leading the hosts despite a remarkably thin resumé as a leader prior to this.

Watson was aware he might be leading the team on match-eve, as he awaited the latest update on Michael Clarke's tender back. In his first international game since November 2011, he found that when he was in the field, his thoughts, which usually revolve around his fitness and flexibility, were now shifted towards team imperatives. It helped his bowling, which was neatness itself; he claimed 2 for 9 from five overs.

"The last few weeks and months have been very frustrating," Watson said. "I've had a few false starts coming back, so to be able to play first of all and get through it is another day down and another day that my body adapts to doing what I want to do with it. Also to have the captaincy in my first game back took my mind off my body.

"I didn't have time to think about what was going on with my body; I was thinking about not only where I wanted to bowl but also where the fielders were and who was going to bowl at the other end, so it was actually a good distraction.

"My effort balls were getting into the late 130s [kph], which is my normal pace with my effort ball, so I felt the most comfortable I have over the last two-three weeks."

The last time Watson played India, Australia were knocked out of the World Cup by them, in Ahmedabad. The Sydney ODI was Watson's first encounter with the unhappy and ineffective unit that conquering team has deteriorated into over the course of the Australia tour. He said a lot had changed between the World Cup and now.

"It was nice that there was a bit of pace and bounce in the pitch, compared to Ahmedabad," Watson said. "But a lot has passed since then, especially during the Test series; you could see that watching it from afar. Things do change, times do change and playing at home as well is a big advantage,

"Definitely [confidence levels are] very different. To see the way a few of their guys got out tonight; throughout the period of time they were doing so well guys like Virat Kohli and [MS] Dhoni were scoring big runs pretty consistently, as well as Sachin [Tendulkar] and Virender Sehwag.

"So for a few of those big guns to miss out pretty consistently through this whole summer is something you don't really see with this Indian team because normally one or two of those guys are getting big scores in the majority of the games. I think that's really where they're lacking compared to when they are at their best."

Watson does not yet know whether Clarke will be fit in time for Australia's final group match, against Sri Lanka on Friday. But he does know that in the time he has been away Australia's fortunes have risen, and his priority now is to find a spot in Australia's Test side during the West Indies tour, wherever one might be found.

"To get out and play is the most exciting thing for me, wherever I fit in, whether it's opening or not. I'd love to be able to bat in the top order, there's no doubt about that, but in the end I just want to fit in because what I saw from afar [from the Australia team] was very impressive."

Edited by Dustin Silgardo

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Paul on February 28, 2012, 2:36 GMT

    schleppo what ARE you talking about? Both Lillee and Thommo spent extended periods on the sidelines thru injury.

  • hari on February 27, 2012, 11:57 GMT

    Watson is the best example for what success does to a player. When he came on to bat he was tentative, unsure of whether to attack or defend. The way he got out showed his lack of confidence. He would have smashed the same delivery over covers a few months ago, today he fell trying to pull it. He looked jaded and walked back very disappointed. In the slips as the captain he looked low on confidence and just shuffled his bowlers in search of breakthroughs. Thanks to Lee and Hilfy, they picked 2 early wkts. However, seeing Kohli and Gambhir scoring with ease, he grew restless and brought himself on in search of a breakthrough. Getting Kohli in his first over changed everything. His own confidence increased, he looked completely in control since then and started marshalling his resouces with increased authority. The way he used Lee, Hilfy and Doherty was pleasing and fetched good results for Aussies. It is a good beginning and he is surely a captaincy material and a great allrounder too

  • peter on February 27, 2012, 6:58 GMT

    Hollywood Watson is lucky he isn't playing with Lillee, Thomson or Marsh. They would have laughed at his physical weakness, those boys played with pain and weren't getting paid hundreds of thousands for sooking about a sore leg.

  • Roo on February 27, 2012, 5:48 GMT

    So Watson normally just thinks about himself when playing cricket (& not captain)... lol... Next Watson will have a hairdresser & masseur running out with the water bottles... Well Watsons Test batting has gone down the gurgler since being made VC... Now his ODI batting form after being named captain... At least he can still bowl, which is what keeps him in any team... Sure hope he finds form with the bat - in the nets in Sydney he was missing 1 in 3 balls... With a 1 day break between the next 3-4 matches it will be a gamble to put Watson into the finals when not yet match fit...

  • Dark on February 27, 2012, 4:55 GMT

    now to kik SL out watto..................................................

  • Phoenix on February 27, 2012, 4:17 GMT

    I have always felt Watson is one of the greats of our time. Watson, just manage your temperament and attitude. Think like a great hero for generations, not just a good player and you'll be in the cricketing books for a long time. Multi-talented stars like you are are rare.

  • Satish on February 27, 2012, 3:05 GMT

    As usual his bowling was immaculate.. The best bowler for Aussies before he was hurt and the same returns.. His batting is always a plus as he can be really deadly on his day.. Though Australia ll like him to be a bit more consistent.. As of now, the Hussey's and middle order's form ll be backup for Watson and Warner..

  • Dummy4 on February 27, 2012, 1:13 GMT

    this australian side is not a good side, this indian team has made them like tat!!!! tats the fate !!! aussies are struggling against the struggling lankans tats the proof!!!! indians loss is mostly due to the team management!!!! it shud be sorted out

  • Andrew on February 27, 2012, 0:50 GMT

    Good onya Watto, couldn't help but think that there is something not right about "...I didn't have time to think about what was going on with my body;". Anyways, if it helps - that be a good thing. Hopefully the runs will come soon. I don't think Oz have got their mix right with the batting line up. I think the top 7 are right (don't completely agree with the order), but then our bottom 4 are a genuine tail. Would prefer a bowling allrounder @ #8, with 3 specialist bowlers @ #9, 10 & 11. Anyways, we have another 3 yrs to get that right before the W/Cup!!!!

  • Dummy4 on February 26, 2012, 17:56 GMT

    Wonderful comeback by the promising all rounder. He has a lot to offer being just 30. Australian selectors are playing better mind games by first putting pressure on tendulkar by taking of ponting, making ponting captain and then replacing him with Watson. India dont have that luxury as rohit cant fit in the socks of tendulkar or sehwag.

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