England v Australia, 2nd ODI, NatWest Series, The Oval July 1, 2012

Balancing act far from elementary for Watson

Shane Watson has admitted that he finds batting first a greater strain and his struggles at The Oval reiterated the problem for Australia
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When asked by George Plimpton which Olympic sport he would have tried his hand at, former US president Bill Clinton offered the decathlon. "It was because," Plimpton said, "You had ten disciplines that you could concentrate on ... And it's quite evident that he has the ability to do it, too. This is a man who is able to stand and give a speech and not have you-know-who popping up in the back of his head." The you-know-who Plimpton spoke of was, of course, Monica Lewinsky.

Clinton was considered a master of compartmentalisation, a popular term among psychologists and cricketers. The ability to momentarily forget all the other various tasks, issues and worries to concentrate most clearly on the one immediately at hand is an attribute sought by many in the game, not all with the same success. Captains must divorce their leadership from their batting or bowling, allrounders one discipline from the other. All players must forget their batting or bowling when they stand in the field. At The Oval, Australia's pursuit of a truly testing total for England was undermined by Shane Watson allowing his batting to become clouded. Not for the first time.

Australia's innings began at a healthy clip, and continued to run smoothly despite the loss of David Warner and Peter Forrest. This was because Watson made a fast start, and kept pinging boundaries to keep the run-rate up and prevent the field or the bowlers from closing in completely. At the end of 20 overs, the visitors were 100 for 2, with Watson 53 from 52 balls - all set to go on to a match-shaping tally.

But from there, his innings petered out. The loss of his captain Michael Clarke did not help, but Watson failed to find gaps for boundaries, or singles, and was becalmed in the company of George Bailey, who battled to get established at the crease with no outlet for the pressure England began to impose. The stagnation of the Australia innings meant that by the time Watson was dismissed for 66, having taken another 28 balls for those 13 runs, the tally had advanced just 28 runs in 11 overs, leaving far too much ground for the middle order to catch up.

Watson's final act was a frustrated heave at Graeme Swann, held in the deep by Steven Finn, a moment that felt inevitable in the context of an innings now mired in mid-overs mud. It was indicative also, of a wider theme in Watson's game. He has admitted before that when batting first, he starts to worry about the physical toll of batting given the bowling he may have to do later, and that these thoughts inhibit his ability to keep up his earlier momentum. Only once has he made a century when batting first in an ODI. When chasing he has coshed five.

"Batting first you tend to be out in the heat and I know I might have to bowl ten overs, so it's physically more demanding"
Shane Watson

"I know in my mind that that is the case," Watson said last year of his greater comfort batting second. "One, it does take a bit of pressure off, I suppose, to know the exact score you've got to chase ... But alongside that, as well, batting first you tend to be out in the heat, and I know I might have to bowl ten overs. So it's also physically more demanding batting first, for me anyway, so that's always in the back of my mind as well."

As demonstrated by that admission, Watson is an admirably frank and transparent character. As an allrounder, he is perennially conflicted. His role in the Australia side has changed too many times to count, batting anywhere from No. 1 to No. 7, and his bowling running the gamut from taking the new ball to not using it at all. A history of injuries has forced Watson to think very carefully about his body and the limits of its exertion - he is a rare cricketer to travel the world with his own personal physio.

This background has made Watson into a most versatile cricketer and a critical part of Michael Clarke's team. But it has also served to entrench patterns into his cricket as well as his preparation for it. Watson worries about his workload every match he plays, and it has long seeped into the way he performs. Ten years into his ODI career, Watson is a far more accomplished batsman when the team bats second, his bowling duties out of the way.

The disparity between between first innings and second innings is so vast as to be worth noting by Clarke, as well as Australia's coach, Mickey Arthur. Across 83 innings batting first, Watson averages a mediocre 32.97, with the aforementioned one century and 16 half-centuries. But when batting second his mean shoots up to 57.10 across 50 innings, five times reaching 100, with 12 half-centuries. Moreover, his strike-rate improves.

For Australia to get the most out of Watson, and to salvage something from an ODI series against England that is now slipping well away from their grasp, they need to find a way of closing that gap. It is difficult to tell whether doing so requires the input of a psychologist, a physio or even a former US president, but Australia's standing as the top-ranked 50-over team in the world will remain at risk so long as the performances of their most destructive player can oscillate so wildly.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | July 3, 2012, 13:43 GMT

    Despite going missing for the entire Pakistan and SL series @5wombats continues to comment like he actually cares/has a clue about international cricket. Good for a laugh if nothing else I suppose.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | July 3, 2012, 10:33 GMT

    With Warner already there opening, I think Australia could afford to shift Watson down the order, and save some of his strength for bowling (which is very useful, and doesn't have to be striking). But I don't know who to replace him with at the openers slot! As I said in earlier posts, I like someone like Clarke in at 3/4 depending on stage/situation of the innings who is stubborn rather than fierce. There's not really anyone else in the squad that should open... Conundrums conundrums once again for Australia.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 3, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    @5wombats - yet you (& others) take the bait & respond almost every time he comments!!!!

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 3, 2012, 0:04 GMT

    @FreddyForPrimeMinister - point well made, it was one that Ian Chappell made on this site about 6mths ago. Watson as a test opener is a reasonable proposition MAINLY if the other batsmen is a good converter of starts, that makes a good blend. My preference has always been that once we get our top order right, Watto needs to slot down the order in Tests, for the time being he is in our top 3 by default & does a reasonable job. As for ODIs, there is a major discrepancy in Wato's batting between batting 1st & 2nd, he needs to do an Nuero-Linguistic Programming course to get the negatives out of his head, but as I said below - how many openers are averaging around 46 with a S/R above 90 in ODIs over 6 yrs atm?

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | July 2, 2012, 19:40 GMT

    We don't rate Watson. @RandyOZ nobody takes anything you say with even the smallest grain of salt.

  • POSTED BY FreddyForPrimeMinister on | July 2, 2012, 17:36 GMT

    As an English fan, I rate Watson highly and I question the constant criticism of him as an opening batsman - notably that he doesn't convert enough 50s to 100s. He currently averages 43.67 as an opener and he generally scores those runs quickly. The fact that he rarely converts those 50s into hundreds suggests that he very rarely falls to a low score. Ask yourself therefore as a number 3 or 4 batsman, what would you prefer - an opener who makes a big hundred every, say 4th innings, the rest of the time leaving you to walk in with a score on 10 or 20, facing an opening bowler with his tail up and a new ball in his hand, or one who allows you to come in with the score on 70 or 80 with an older ball that's taken a bit of a battering and 1st or 2nd change bowlers on? If he converted more of those 50s to hundreds, his average would be up in the 60s or 70s and we'd be talking about the best batsman since Bradman! His worth to the team as a batsman alone is more than the lack 100s suggests.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | July 2, 2012, 16:23 GMT

    I'd say Watson should continue opening where he has success. There are parts of the Aus game which look like they need to change but Watson and Warner isn't one of them. Besides he only has to concentrate on batting while he's in there whether it be opening or at number 6. Hafeez does it for Pak

  • POSTED BY Hammond on | July 2, 2012, 14:27 GMT

    @RandyOZ, don't you mean a spoonful of sugar to help the bitter medicine of defeat to go down? And yet you still dodge the point. Give credit to England where it is due (they have won the last 8 odi's they have played in a row). Don't deflect it anywhere or use well worn and tiresome excuses. How about giving the England boys some credit?

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 2, 2012, 10:59 GMT

    @Carpathian - that's yours and other peoples opinion, however I struggle to recall an opener who averages better than 46 in ODIs with a S/R over 90. Not saying he is as good, but as an opener he is more consistant than Gilly was. So as far as I am aware, stats over time lead to a good indication of where a player is at. Since becoming an opener his bowling has improved (122 wickets @ a S/R of 32.5) in terms of S/R & average - whilst his economy has remained par. Name ANY allrounder in the world that has better than those figures, (btw Kallis has a better batting ave, but his S/R & bowling figures are significantly inferior). I stated back when Watson was firsted mooted to be V/C that it was too much & I do agree that he does possess brain fades (mainly in tests), but my response to you was based on you saying "...clearly can't cope with being an allrounder batting at the top of the order." Which in terms of ODIs is IMO actually not true.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 2, 2012, 10:33 GMT

    @landl47 - your comparison with Cook is not accurate/fair. Watson has only batted 86 times as an opener in ODIs (so the 153 matches is a moot stat). He has an ave of almost 46 (Cook 41.5) in that position with 3,500+ runs. Since Watto moved to the top order in 2006, only 12 batsmen have scored more runs than him in that period & only 6 of those batsmen have better averages, only ONE has a better S/Rate. Watto's performances below the top of the order are hit & miss, so I definately would NOT be dropping him down the order. I find it weird that a bloke who has just hit 60 odd & got a wicket in a losing cause is being subjected to this scrutiny. Just an aside, you compare Watto to Cook - yet at this point in time Cook has NEVER played Sth Africa in an ODI & currently only played Oz twice, so could be said to be relatively unproven (although Watto's ave against the Saffas is underwhelming). PS: I mentioned Cook's lack of matches v Oz & Saffas as I think they are benchmark sides in ODIs.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | July 3, 2012, 13:43 GMT

    Despite going missing for the entire Pakistan and SL series @5wombats continues to comment like he actually cares/has a clue about international cricket. Good for a laugh if nothing else I suppose.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | July 3, 2012, 10:33 GMT

    With Warner already there opening, I think Australia could afford to shift Watson down the order, and save some of his strength for bowling (which is very useful, and doesn't have to be striking). But I don't know who to replace him with at the openers slot! As I said in earlier posts, I like someone like Clarke in at 3/4 depending on stage/situation of the innings who is stubborn rather than fierce. There's not really anyone else in the squad that should open... Conundrums conundrums once again for Australia.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 3, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    @5wombats - yet you (& others) take the bait & respond almost every time he comments!!!!

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 3, 2012, 0:04 GMT

    @FreddyForPrimeMinister - point well made, it was one that Ian Chappell made on this site about 6mths ago. Watson as a test opener is a reasonable proposition MAINLY if the other batsmen is a good converter of starts, that makes a good blend. My preference has always been that once we get our top order right, Watto needs to slot down the order in Tests, for the time being he is in our top 3 by default & does a reasonable job. As for ODIs, there is a major discrepancy in Wato's batting between batting 1st & 2nd, he needs to do an Nuero-Linguistic Programming course to get the negatives out of his head, but as I said below - how many openers are averaging around 46 with a S/R above 90 in ODIs over 6 yrs atm?

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | July 2, 2012, 19:40 GMT

    We don't rate Watson. @RandyOZ nobody takes anything you say with even the smallest grain of salt.

  • POSTED BY FreddyForPrimeMinister on | July 2, 2012, 17:36 GMT

    As an English fan, I rate Watson highly and I question the constant criticism of him as an opening batsman - notably that he doesn't convert enough 50s to 100s. He currently averages 43.67 as an opener and he generally scores those runs quickly. The fact that he rarely converts those 50s into hundreds suggests that he very rarely falls to a low score. Ask yourself therefore as a number 3 or 4 batsman, what would you prefer - an opener who makes a big hundred every, say 4th innings, the rest of the time leaving you to walk in with a score on 10 or 20, facing an opening bowler with his tail up and a new ball in his hand, or one who allows you to come in with the score on 70 or 80 with an older ball that's taken a bit of a battering and 1st or 2nd change bowlers on? If he converted more of those 50s to hundreds, his average would be up in the 60s or 70s and we'd be talking about the best batsman since Bradman! His worth to the team as a batsman alone is more than the lack 100s suggests.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | July 2, 2012, 16:23 GMT

    I'd say Watson should continue opening where he has success. There are parts of the Aus game which look like they need to change but Watson and Warner isn't one of them. Besides he only has to concentrate on batting while he's in there whether it be opening or at number 6. Hafeez does it for Pak

  • POSTED BY Hammond on | July 2, 2012, 14:27 GMT

    @RandyOZ, don't you mean a spoonful of sugar to help the bitter medicine of defeat to go down? And yet you still dodge the point. Give credit to England where it is due (they have won the last 8 odi's they have played in a row). Don't deflect it anywhere or use well worn and tiresome excuses. How about giving the England boys some credit?

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 2, 2012, 10:59 GMT

    @Carpathian - that's yours and other peoples opinion, however I struggle to recall an opener who averages better than 46 in ODIs with a S/R over 90. Not saying he is as good, but as an opener he is more consistant than Gilly was. So as far as I am aware, stats over time lead to a good indication of where a player is at. Since becoming an opener his bowling has improved (122 wickets @ a S/R of 32.5) in terms of S/R & average - whilst his economy has remained par. Name ANY allrounder in the world that has better than those figures, (btw Kallis has a better batting ave, but his S/R & bowling figures are significantly inferior). I stated back when Watson was firsted mooted to be V/C that it was too much & I do agree that he does possess brain fades (mainly in tests), but my response to you was based on you saying "...clearly can't cope with being an allrounder batting at the top of the order." Which in terms of ODIs is IMO actually not true.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 2, 2012, 10:33 GMT

    @landl47 - your comparison with Cook is not accurate/fair. Watson has only batted 86 times as an opener in ODIs (so the 153 matches is a moot stat). He has an ave of almost 46 (Cook 41.5) in that position with 3,500+ runs. Since Watto moved to the top order in 2006, only 12 batsmen have scored more runs than him in that period & only 6 of those batsmen have better averages, only ONE has a better S/Rate. Watto's performances below the top of the order are hit & miss, so I definately would NOT be dropping him down the order. I find it weird that a bloke who has just hit 60 odd & got a wicket in a losing cause is being subjected to this scrutiny. Just an aside, you compare Watto to Cook - yet at this point in time Cook has NEVER played Sth Africa in an ODI & currently only played Oz twice, so could be said to be relatively unproven (although Watto's ave against the Saffas is underwhelming). PS: I mentioned Cook's lack of matches v Oz & Saffas as I think they are benchmark sides in ODIs.

  • POSTED BY Carpathian on | July 2, 2012, 9:59 GMT

    @Meety His stats are fine, but it's the brain fades (lobbed catches, horrendous running) and his own admission that he's got too much on his mind. Not many players handle opening as well as being a key bowler without something going awry - and for Watson that something crops up between the ears, affecting his concentration and judgement.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 2, 2012, 8:56 GMT

    @tpjpower - mate never said WOULD - said COULD (did not intend it to sound like a certainty, just an increased possibility). Was mainly thinking about the fact that Kiesweiter @ #6 & Bresnan @ #7 with 70 runs to get, COULD see them buckle. As I said England were the better side, in some ways the right decision was made (benefit of the doubt), my only concern was, that flies in the opposite direction of how referrals normally go, either way Oz needed to be making more chances, they didn't do so!

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | July 2, 2012, 8:54 GMT

    @Hammond - considering you went absent for the entire Pakistan and UAE series, excuse me if I take everything you say with the smallest grain of salt I can possibly find.

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | July 2, 2012, 8:45 GMT

    I've never read of any cricketer that worries more about his own body than about playing for his team & team mates than Watto... Making him VC has also increased his mental loading to the obvious detriment of his overall game... Moving him to no.6/7 in ODI's & Tests would free up both his batting & allow him to mentally cope with games... I've commented many times that top order batsmen need to be specialist in ODI's & Tests, luckily Oz have been blessed with some good keepers that could fill that position but it is not a position for an allrounder...

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | July 2, 2012, 8:30 GMT

    @landl47... Agree & this article just amplifies why Watto should never bat above no.6... He mentally just doesn't have what it takes as a "specialist" top order batsman... BTW - you owe me some fish & chips on Watto bowling 10 overs :P... Please don't post & eat them yourself :) ...

  • POSTED BY HadleeCrowe on | July 2, 2012, 7:36 GMT

    most naturally talented cricketer in world cricket... just batting in wrong spot... should be like kallis and bat at 4,5, or 6

  • POSTED BY RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on | July 2, 2012, 6:50 GMT

    Anyone who says that watson should bat at no5 0r 6 just becos he is an allrounder doesnt understand cricket. Watson should always open becos he likes pace on the ball and he is a boundary hitter. No 6 is for grafters who dont mind the ball not coming on to tha bat.

  • POSTED BY tpjpower on | July 2, 2012, 6:28 GMT

    @Meety - I think it's overly optimistic to suggest Australia would have turned it around had Morgan's review been unsuccessful. Our attack looked largely toothless last night, and with Bopara well set at the crease and an English order that bats deep, the horse had well and truly bolted by the time Clarke brought himself on.

  • POSTED BY HunterGuru on | July 2, 2012, 4:45 GMT

    @lanld47 hear hear. Never understood why they keep him at the top of the order. Looks like the perfect traditional allrounder to me. Bowls well as a change bowler, take the odd wicket and bang 50 or 60 batting at 6. Why not one of the Hussey brothers opening? probably David.

  • POSTED BY DanielNarayan on | July 2, 2012, 4:10 GMT

    I must say the article and feedback seem quite harsh on Shane Watson. I find it highly unusual that criticism is being heaped on the player that was probably the biggest contributor with the bat and then bowls ten overs to boot. The simple fact of the matter is that George Bailey played a selfish 'Dhoniesque' innings where he gave himself an eternity to get in placing undue pressure on the other batsman (Shane Watson) who eventually tried to do the right thing and up the ante (given that he had no other choice in the interests of the team)

  • POSTED BY on | July 2, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    australia should stop teh chopping and changing...only change if a player fails miserably...and keep the players at a steady position...they started bailey at the top of teh order like wade and now they are playing in the middle order...they also need a steady number three and clarke should focus on his batting...watson is a good opener...he probably got bogged down in teh spin and medium pace overs...he should go for the bigger shots earlier if he cant play spin...and england should start playing slow bowlers earlier if watson has a problem in that deptt...and play doherty thru out...a left arm leg spinner is always a good option in onedayers

  • POSTED BY on | July 2, 2012, 3:48 GMT

    well australia should bat second regularly in that case or get a phsychologist to explain to watson that if he is too tired clarke can do the bowling since he does not bat that well these days...australia also have a problem with a one day spinner and xavier doherty might be a better bet...they should also probably play wade up teh order and tell him to steady the innings...

  • POSTED BY Mad_Hamish on | July 2, 2012, 3:03 GMT

    There are a few points to make here a) when Clarke went Aus were 3-101 b) Warner, Forrest and Clarke were all at or below strike rates of 50 c) The england bowling was pretty good d) Watson may well have thought that they were better off making sure they didn't lose another wicket straight away than thrashing for the runrate.

    In terms of first vs second innnings as an opener Watson averages 36.63 in the first innings at a strike rate of 88.71, it's not a bad record. I suspect he gets less 100s in the first innings at least in part because he looks to looks to accelerate the runrate after his 50 and takes more risks to do so while batting second he's got a better idea of what the runrate needs to be and can pace an innings better.

  • POSTED BY Hammond on | July 2, 2012, 2:24 GMT

    @RandyOZ so your last back up defence/excuse is to blame the coach? How about giving England some credit for possibly (gasp) playing better cricket than Australia? BTW I've never liked Watson as a batsman. Only 2 gears in his transmission.

  • POSTED BY bobagorof on | July 2, 2012, 0:05 GMT

    From what I heard, listening on the radio, Bailey contributed quite a lot to Watson's dismissal. Sure, Watson's own scoring had dropped from the run-a-ball stuff that got him to his 50, but Watson also found himself with a partner who couldn't find a run at the other end. Bailey was 20 off 49 at one point, after Watson had been dismissed, which shows just how slow he was batting. No doubt the frustration got to Watson as he tried to up the tempo. It's true that Watson hasn't quite managed to get the hundreds to stamp his authority at the top, and maybe a spot at 5 would be better for him (with the middle order looking shaky with M Hussey not there), which would free him up mentally.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | July 1, 2012, 23:25 GMT

    @ JG2704 - no you are correct. David Hussey hasn't been up to his usual lofty standards of late. One has to question what accountability Langer has? He seems to just float around the media and dressing rooms and nothing sticks. Teflon Justin.

  • POSTED BY Winsome on | July 1, 2012, 22:47 GMT

    Send Watson in at 5. Don't let him open if it bothers him so much.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 1, 2012, 22:03 GMT

    @Carpathian - what part of 60 odd + a wicket deserves "...clearly can't cope with being an allrounder batting at the top of the order."????? @jmcilhinney - Bailey's start wasn't great, but ultimately he did OK, hardly could be blamed IMO, I'm a Clarke fan, but his getting out to Bopara was a MAJOR blunder. @JG2704 - that is the DJ Hussey conundrum. He has taken a long time to show his class at International level, he is now one of the experienced players & needs to produce more with the bat. With the squad Oz have atm, I would bat DJ Huss @ #3. == == == England were the better side & am very reluctant to go down the "we was robbed" angle, but the Morgan reprieve, could of turned a comfortable run chase into an Oz win. Eng's batting order could of been under massive pressure after a Pup double strike. Them's the breaks, if it had been not out & Oz reviewed, I could of understood the decision, but given out & overturned was rough.

  • POSTED BY whatawicket on | July 1, 2012, 21:19 GMT

    these days watson knows that the class they once had down the order is no longer there hence a wicket or 2 makes his reassess what he can do. but dont it make him look silly to the pre series waffle. get your own house in order before you try and assess your oppositions.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | July 1, 2012, 21:18 GMT

    Since Watson both batted and bowled better in the second ODI (when Aus batted first) I'm not sure what that says about him. I think he's a player with good talent, but hasn't really ever established a clear role in either the test or ODI sides. He's not a test opener or #3 (average 37.54 with only 2 centuries in 64 innings), but he doesn't bowl enough to qualify as a true all-rounder, although when he does bowl he bowls well. In ODIs he is a good opening option, but only has 6 centuries in 153 ODIs, compared with, say, Alastair Cook's 5 in 49. His bowling is effective and quite economical, but if it affects his batting, is it worth it? Many have suggested he should be a #6 bat and 5th bowler and I'm one of them. He'd be a lot more valuable in that role.

  • POSTED BY Carpathian on | July 1, 2012, 20:44 GMT

    Watson clearly can't cope with being an allrounder batting at the top of the order. Not that anyone in the Arthur/Clarke brains trust seems to have worked that out.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | July 1, 2012, 19:54 GMT

    The guy I don't understand is Hussey. We've seen him in English conditions playing for Notts in shorter formats and the guy looked class. I know his brother is the better player but David certainly doesn't seem to be the dangerman of yesterday - from the last 2 performances. As for Bailey , well he managed to up his tempo after the 40th over and obviously got Aus to a competitive if not daunting total, but it's hard to imagine him as a dynamic T20 player - being captain of the side. Maybe he is better than what he has shown

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | July 1, 2012, 19:37 GMT

    Some will say that this loss is George Bailey's fault and surely he must take some of the blame. That said, the fact that Watson had been scoring at over a run a ball and was then effectively shut down during those middle overs should indicate that the bowling was very good and it should therefore not be too much of a surprise that Bailey found it hard to get going. Swann bowled very well through that period and was unlucky not to pick up a couple more wickets (and didn't he let the fielders know it) and Bopara was excellent as well. I guess their careers won't be ending just yet.

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  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | July 1, 2012, 19:37 GMT

    Some will say that this loss is George Bailey's fault and surely he must take some of the blame. That said, the fact that Watson had been scoring at over a run a ball and was then effectively shut down during those middle overs should indicate that the bowling was very good and it should therefore not be too much of a surprise that Bailey found it hard to get going. Swann bowled very well through that period and was unlucky not to pick up a couple more wickets (and didn't he let the fielders know it) and Bopara was excellent as well. I guess their careers won't be ending just yet.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | July 1, 2012, 19:54 GMT

    The guy I don't understand is Hussey. We've seen him in English conditions playing for Notts in shorter formats and the guy looked class. I know his brother is the better player but David certainly doesn't seem to be the dangerman of yesterday - from the last 2 performances. As for Bailey , well he managed to up his tempo after the 40th over and obviously got Aus to a competitive if not daunting total, but it's hard to imagine him as a dynamic T20 player - being captain of the side. Maybe he is better than what he has shown

  • POSTED BY Carpathian on | July 1, 2012, 20:44 GMT

    Watson clearly can't cope with being an allrounder batting at the top of the order. Not that anyone in the Arthur/Clarke brains trust seems to have worked that out.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | July 1, 2012, 21:18 GMT

    Since Watson both batted and bowled better in the second ODI (when Aus batted first) I'm not sure what that says about him. I think he's a player with good talent, but hasn't really ever established a clear role in either the test or ODI sides. He's not a test opener or #3 (average 37.54 with only 2 centuries in 64 innings), but he doesn't bowl enough to qualify as a true all-rounder, although when he does bowl he bowls well. In ODIs he is a good opening option, but only has 6 centuries in 153 ODIs, compared with, say, Alastair Cook's 5 in 49. His bowling is effective and quite economical, but if it affects his batting, is it worth it? Many have suggested he should be a #6 bat and 5th bowler and I'm one of them. He'd be a lot more valuable in that role.

  • POSTED BY whatawicket on | July 1, 2012, 21:19 GMT

    these days watson knows that the class they once had down the order is no longer there hence a wicket or 2 makes his reassess what he can do. but dont it make him look silly to the pre series waffle. get your own house in order before you try and assess your oppositions.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 1, 2012, 22:03 GMT

    @Carpathian - what part of 60 odd + a wicket deserves "...clearly can't cope with being an allrounder batting at the top of the order."????? @jmcilhinney - Bailey's start wasn't great, but ultimately he did OK, hardly could be blamed IMO, I'm a Clarke fan, but his getting out to Bopara was a MAJOR blunder. @JG2704 - that is the DJ Hussey conundrum. He has taken a long time to show his class at International level, he is now one of the experienced players & needs to produce more with the bat. With the squad Oz have atm, I would bat DJ Huss @ #3. == == == England were the better side & am very reluctant to go down the "we was robbed" angle, but the Morgan reprieve, could of turned a comfortable run chase into an Oz win. Eng's batting order could of been under massive pressure after a Pup double strike. Them's the breaks, if it had been not out & Oz reviewed, I could of understood the decision, but given out & overturned was rough.

  • POSTED BY Winsome on | July 1, 2012, 22:47 GMT

    Send Watson in at 5. Don't let him open if it bothers him so much.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | July 1, 2012, 23:25 GMT

    @ JG2704 - no you are correct. David Hussey hasn't been up to his usual lofty standards of late. One has to question what accountability Langer has? He seems to just float around the media and dressing rooms and nothing sticks. Teflon Justin.

  • POSTED BY bobagorof on | July 2, 2012, 0:05 GMT

    From what I heard, listening on the radio, Bailey contributed quite a lot to Watson's dismissal. Sure, Watson's own scoring had dropped from the run-a-ball stuff that got him to his 50, but Watson also found himself with a partner who couldn't find a run at the other end. Bailey was 20 off 49 at one point, after Watson had been dismissed, which shows just how slow he was batting. No doubt the frustration got to Watson as he tried to up the tempo. It's true that Watson hasn't quite managed to get the hundreds to stamp his authority at the top, and maybe a spot at 5 would be better for him (with the middle order looking shaky with M Hussey not there), which would free him up mentally.

  • POSTED BY Hammond on | July 2, 2012, 2:24 GMT

    @RandyOZ so your last back up defence/excuse is to blame the coach? How about giving England some credit for possibly (gasp) playing better cricket than Australia? BTW I've never liked Watson as a batsman. Only 2 gears in his transmission.