Australia in England 2012 June 27, 2012

Watson questions England batting depth


Australia have identified England's use of five specialist bowlers as a point of weakness to expose in the forthcoming ODI series, reasoning that the hosts' longer tail will place pressure on the middle order provided early wickets can be taken.

Shane Watson, the allrounder and vice-captain to Michael Clarke, pointed out that an England XI featuring Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Steven Finn and Graeme Swann had tremendous depth in bowling but not so much in batting. This was particularly so as the top three of Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott had done the vast majority of the team's run-making in recent ODI matches against the West Indies and Pakistan.

Ravi Bopara, Eoin Morgan and Craig Kieswetter have had less to do in the wake of Cook's prolific efforts as ODI captain, while Bell's recent return has covered for the premature limited overs retirement of Kevin Pietersen. Watson said Australia's pace attack, likely to include the still slippery Brett Lee alongside the speedy 19-year-old Pat Cummins at Lord's on Friday, will be seeking to get them out into the middle early on.

"For England to be able to go in with four frontline quick bowlers is a very good thing for them against our batting line-up, but I suppose playing for out-and-out quick bowlers and one main spinner as well means if we're able to make inroads into their batting line-up early it means they might be one batsman short," Watson said. "That's something that we see as very important for us to have success here, to try to make early inroads.

"That's been one of England's strengths over the last period of time with their batting, being able to score heavily in the top three really, so we know if we're able to make inroads it might expose a part of the English team that hasn't really been exposed over the last little while as well. Hopefully that's something we're able to do, on the flipside of that we know England have got a very strong bowling line-up with no weaknesses there at all, so it's going to be a very good challenge."

In their 179-run pounding of Essex at Chelmsford on Tuesday, Australia opened with Watson and David Warner, leaving No. 7 in the highly capable hands of Matthew Wade. By contrast, England have promoted Tim Bresnan to accommodate the extra bowler, and Watson said that while he respected Bresnan's batting ability, he was happy to have someone of Wade's promise as his opposite batting number.

"I'll never sell Tim Bresnan short, I think he's an excellent cricketer, he's a very highly skilled bowler and he got 70-odd against us in the semi-final of the Champions Trophy a few years ago as well, so I know he can bat," Watson said. "But there's no doubt it does put a bit more pressure on him batting at seven, and Matthew Wade has had some pretty good success in his short career anyway opening or batting at seven as well. That could be to our advantage."

Bresnan had earlier padded away the suggestion that he might be one place too high in England's batting order, saying he was comfortable with where he stood. He was more forthcoming about the circumstances in which he had been left out of the team for the washed out third ODI against the West Indies at Headingley, admitting that his training efforts had slackened in recent weeks.

"It's always difficult in training, you are a little bit lethargic but can always get up for game, but if you are not preparing as well as you can that's always to the detriment of the team which suffers," Bresnan said. "So I felt I was lethargic and saving myself in training for games and that's a bad habit."

"I wanted to play at Headingley, but I understand the other side of the coin which says there's a lot of cricket coming up. We're off the back of a lot of cricket, I've bowled a lot of overs and if Andy [Flower] and the medical staff think I looked tired and need a break I respect that decision. I would rather take one game out and rest than be forced to take an extended spell out because of injury.

"They have a lot of communication between themselves, Andy and Dave Saker and the medical team, and the walls have ears, so if you whisper to somebody that you are tired it's going to get back to the coach pretty quickly."

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

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  • rob on June 29, 2012, 8:28 GMT

    landl47 03:57 AM : Can't see how how identifying a possible weakness and formulating a basic plan to try and exploit it is 'claiming superiority'. I don't think he made any claims in that regard. To be honest, it sounds like a rehearsed line and probably a red herring for the arm-chair experts to chew over. (The media I mean) ... totally agree though that it should be a tough series. Unlike quite a few on the site, I'm really looking forward to this. It's my first good look at Cummins as well, and I'm an Aussie ! Anyway, I will be happy if we can shake the Poms up a bit and establish a bit of self doubt among them. I'd even be comfortable with a narrow series loss if they could manage to set a few alarm bells off along the way.

  • Lalith on June 29, 2012, 8:11 GMT

    I first thought Watson is a Gentleman. Watson! you should focus your team. Do not criticise opponent. That is the Aussie mania Cricinfo please publish this

  • Roo on June 29, 2012, 7:11 GMT

    @landl47 :- "I'd be prepared to make a modest wager that if England bat first, Watson won't bowl 10 overs"... OK, a pasty roll (feeds 4) from my local bakery against some good fish & chips ;)... Seriously though, that depends on our squad & where Watson bats... That also depends on "if" Clarke, Smith, Hussey are used for an over or 2 with the ball... Conditions & the pitch also will be a factor... That aside, most agree that Watson does have limits in endurance & he even said himself earlier this year that he may just play as a batsman - problem with that is he is picked as an allrounder & none of the selectors were impressed...

  • Jason on June 29, 2012, 6:50 GMT

    I totally disagree with those that claim Broad, Bresnan and Swann are all rounders, they arent, they are Bowlers who bat a bit (Emphasis on BIT), its like claiming the Trott or Bopara's are All rounders because they are Batsmen that can bowl a bit. True All-rounders are able to be picked purely on either Batting or Bowling, and you would select either of those three purely on thie batting skill, people like Sobers, Kallis, Botham, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, are true all rounders as they can be selected for either their batting or bowling.

  • Dean on June 28, 2012, 21:33 GMT

    @subbass, we have had ODI series wins against SRL, Ind & Pak within the last 12 months (albeit having been reversed in Ind) So are you saying that Aus and SAF are the only big teams in terms of ODI's ? Its probably also worth pointing out that even though it was in 09 Eng bt SAF the last time they played an odi series!

  • John on June 28, 2012, 21:03 GMT

    @RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (June 28 2012, 14:57 PM GMT) I think what is meant is that these guys are genuine frontline bowlers . It's a bonus that some can bat a bit too. But genuine bowlers as opposed to bits and pieces cricketers that may sum up the phrase "Jack of all trades , master of none"

  • John on June 28, 2012, 21:03 GMT

    Marcio on (June 28 2012, 14:31 PM GMT) - I can see where HM is coming from although I can see how it also might come across as a little ungracious and I'm sure it's not meant to. Trying to balance it -I believe that when you last regained the Ashes with a 5-0 ww , Eng won the OD series and by the same token I wonder if Australia's intensity levels dipped after winning the main series

  • SUNIL on June 28, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    I think England have really come of ages under Cook as an ODI team and now they are going to face the rebuilding Aussies. Although Lee is there but I still think that England still have a better chance this time. If English batting finishes at 6, then what happened to Forest and Bailey against Narine in Carribean. Don't forger, they have to face Swann who is a much better bowler than Narine. Let's hope for a healthy competition between these two old rivals rather than giving some insane comments.

  • ashley on June 28, 2012, 16:08 GMT

    Watsons comments are simply answers to media questions. What would people like to hear him say "oh this England team is great and we are just happy to be competing" Don't be stupid the day any australian team, in any sport walk out thinking they can't win or don't try to find a successful strategy is the day I'll give it away. As for all those people hooking into Steve Smith, I fear you may all end up with egg on your face. He clearly has loads of talent and is well worth sticking with. Players who get time to learn and master their game at international level tend to finish up as really good players. His a promising Leg spinner ( what Captain doesn't want one of those in his armoury ) his got a great eye but definatley needs to tighen up is technique and his probably the best fielder in the country. In one day cricket backing up the bowlers with quality fielding builds the kind of pressure that wins matches.

  • John on June 28, 2012, 16:01 GMT

    @spesh: Watson's a decent bowler, but it is common and admitted knowledge that he can't bowl 10 overs and bat to his full potential. If it's necessary for Watson to bowl 10 overs, then Australia are effectively a batsman down if they are batting second. If he was batting at #6, it wouldn't be so much of an issue, but he's opening. I guess they could move Wade up to open, but where's the Aussie advantage at #7 then? Smith bats #7 and his average is almost identical to that of Bresnan. I'd be prepared to make a modest wager that if England bat first, Watson won't bowl 10 overs.

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