Australia in England 2012 June 20, 2012

Watson wants to be Ashes avenger

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Rather than train, Michael Clarke's Australian tourists watched The Avengers in Leicester on Wednesday. It is a film title Clarke might also like to be applied to his team, as resolve builds in Australian cricket to rid itself of the scars inflicted by England in recent Ashes series.

Before curtain-up, the vice-captain Shane Watson candidly admitted that Australian cricketers visiting the British Isles must now contend with the sorts of unhelpful memories that bedevilled the minds of their England counterparts in the 1990s and early 2000s. Back then, a succession of teams appeared beaten down by history well before they had a chance to engage their opponents.

Frank as ever, Watson said the team will have to overturn negative thoughts emanating from Ashes defeats in 2009 and 2010-11, and that it would continue to battle them until they regain the urn, the Test team's clear goal for 2013.

This year's ODI tour will help to provide experience of English bowlers, batsmen and climes for many tourists who have not encountered them before, but Watson said the 2012 reconnaissance would be only of superficial value in ridding himself and others of the wounds incurred in past losses.

"Until you can get into the Ashes and perform the way we need to perform those memories are going to be in the back of your mind," Watson said. "Everything we are doing is to try to improve every single time we train and play. Hopefully that will continue our development and improvement leading into the Ashes and we will have some happier memories than the previous couple of series.

"But there is no doubt we have to improve in a big way from the past Ashes series. We are working hard on the areas that we were deficient at. That is why this next year is about continuing our development in the areas that were just not good enough against the Poms hin the past couple of series here and in the series in Australia as well."

Australia failed in many areas in the past two Ashes series, but Watson pointed to numerous horrendous sessions with the bat as the most damaging passages in surrendering the initiative to Andrew Strauss' England team. There was the loss of eight wickets in a session at the Oval when a drawn match would have retained the urn, an early loss of three wickets for two runs at Adelaide Oval in the second Test of 2010-11, and the crowning humiliation of being bowled out for 98 on Boxing Day.

"One of our biggest weaknesses was our batting collapses. That is something that we are trying to continue to work on," Watson said. "Like most batting teams if someone is bowling at good pace and swinging the ball consistently it provides a really big challenge - we have to get better to get through those periods.

"In the past, over the last couple of series here especially we haven't been able to get through those periods limiting the damage. We have been losing four and five wickets through that period. What we are working on at the moment is to continue to challenge ourselves against the swinging ball. You need to back your game and your natural instincts but shape your game and shape your technique to combat what was thrown about."

Much as Allan Border's side overcame similarly unhappy memories to win the Ashes in 1989, so Clarke's team will endeavour to learn from past mistakes. In Watson's case there has already been evidence of this, in how his bowling has developed over successive England trips to become decidedly crafty and dangerous where once it was youthfully naïve.

"My first few tours I didn't enjoy it because I didn't know how to get the best out of myself as a bowler and that's about your development as a cricketer really - adapting to the conditions that are presented," Watson said.

"There's no doubt the Duke ball can really help your swing bowling out here. That's when I finally discovered the better way to bowl here rather than trying to bowl 100 miles an hour, gun-barrel straight.

"I really enjoy that over here, but on the flipside that's a challenge as a batsman, know bowlers do have the best success here by swinging the ball."

Australia's opening match of the tour takes place against Leicestershire at Grace Road on Thursday, with the likes of Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Peter Forrest, George Bailey, Steve Smith and the recalled Mitchell Johnson all looking for a chance to secure a spot in the ODI matches that follow.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 5wombats on June 23, 2012, 19:24 GMT

    That someone like Watson got "player of the year" shows just how weak Australia had become. We want to see Aus rise above talking about players like him, let alone actually selecting them.

  • dummy4fb on June 23, 2012, 19:03 GMT

    sir watson.....wat a player...how can ppl compare him with flintoff....bst allrounder i hav ever seen......wat a bowler n batsman.....

  • hyclass on June 23, 2012, 11:28 GMT

    @RandyOz...feel free to research any information you think will undermine my case.I'm always ready to be elucidated.Fact is excellent in repealing those who appear to have an agenda & removes emotive discourse.Watson has been a member of the side since Ashes '09.During that time,Australia has plumbed the depths of the world rankings.So much so,that the historical losses of the last Ashes resulted in the Argus Review & the most tumultuous upheaval in Australian cricket history.How much further do you believe it was possible for Australia to fall?During that time,Watson made 2 centuries in 35 Tests and 64 innings.Both required multiple dropped catches.His strike rate is 50-barely above Katich. He has taken 59 wickets at the rate of 1.68 a Test.He has been regularly injured,unable to bowl & lacks stamina as a batsman.This is not a comment on his character or technique-only a revelation of the facts as they are known.I consider him a quality player whose physiology suggests ODI,not Tests.

  • mixters on June 23, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    Everyone seems to knock Watson but I am sure the english will tell you all about the great Freddie Flintoff. Just compared the stats on yhese two players guess who has the better batting and bowling averages? The hero of english cricket or the poor injury prone Aussie Watson has a considerably better Ave with both bat and ball. Its a Shamehe is so injury prone for Australia but good for the rest of the world I think.

  • Beertjie on June 22, 2012, 10:55 GMT

    I especially try to avoid getting people's dander up (especially those who think their opinions are somehow not mere opinions), but I'm glad to support @RandyOZ on (June 22 2012, 06:13 AM GMT) when he writes about @hyclass: "your opinions are based on who are your favourites". I recall he maintained that Hughes needed to be given more opportunities than the 'too few' he had been given, etc. Now he's knocking Watto quoting selective use of stats. When Watto went to England in 2009 he was a left-field choice as reserve opener, but he performed well and was retained. If the team needs Watto's steadiness (after all he's VC), why would you want to omit him based on questionably constituted "relevant" (lol) facts? I agree with @Benny1725 that Watto "should bat no6 in tests" - it is quite irrelevant where he himself would like to bat or at what position he has been successful in the past. It's all about his contribution to the current team and moving forward, so between Punter and him he wins

  • JG2704 on June 22, 2012, 8:20 GMT

    Not naming names but why do we need to have so many trash comms about what Aus will do to Eng or what Eng are going to do to Australia ? Truth of the matter is that alot can change from either side between now and the next Ashes series and from an Australian point of view , they drew in SA and beat SL in SL (which trumps Engs effort) and Eng had that 3-0 WW in Pak. from Eng's point of view we are still number 1 and very much stronger at home than overseas (esp in SC conditions) and then there was the last Ashes series.Truth is right now , that there is little to chose between Eng,SA and Aus.

  • RandyOZ on June 22, 2012, 6:13 GMT

    @Hyclass - you are having a laugh right? He averages 28 with the ball!! Cnosidering the continual selection of spray guns he is absolutely essential as the fifth bowler and i'll take a bowler with an average of 28 anyday. His batting average is slightly lower now but he continually gets to 50 unlike Cowan and Ponting. You like to think your opinions are based on fact but if you dig under the surface most are based on who are your favourites. We would be well down the rankings if it wasn't for Watto.

  • hyclass on June 22, 2012, 0:55 GMT

    @jb633...I re-iterate,he has 59 wickets in 35 Tests. Those are not the numbers of an all rounder.He is occasionally able to bowl more overs, but always with the risk that he will be injured,which has often proved to be the case. What professional captain should go into a game knowing,that though his all rounder is technically sound, he cannot count on him batting or bowling for long periods without the spectre of injury or fatigue? His batting average has continued to slide, having ascended as high as 40.I don't question Watson's character or commitment but more than 3 years of speculating has solved nothing.He simply lacks the body to influence matches at Test level.Let him be a ODI player. The team should be populated with fit players capable of influencing matches.They should have unimpeachable long term records coupled with solid recent form. Theories about age,technique,class,batting combinations,bowling types and future contest planning should play no part.Only the best eleven.

  • Potatis on June 21, 2012, 20:55 GMT

    @steve19191 - Australia haven't lost a test for many games now, and haven't lost a test series for even longer, whereas England lost a series against Pakistan recently. How has the Australian performance been embarrassing then? You are right about the 3 games though. After Australia win 3-0 we'll all be pleased that we don't waste time on another 2 games.

  • steve19191 on June 21, 2012, 18:06 GMT

    Quite frankly I don´t know why the ashes gets as much billing as it does. Australia are in no way a match for the English lads, it is embarrasing to watch and I for one hope that future tours are restricted to 3 test matches until Australia are of a good enough standard to challenge.

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