Australia's troubled tour

Howard doesn't know the real me - Watson

Daniel Brettig

March 12, 2013

Comments: 122 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke and Shane Watson share a light moment during training, R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo, August 19, 2011
Shane Watson denied he had any major problems with the captain Michael Clarke © AFP
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Shane Watson challenged Australia's team performance manager Pat Howard to research his reputation as a team man among cricketers around the country and denied he had any major problems with the captain Michael Clarke on his early return home from the India tour.

Having left Chandigarh to spend time with his pregnant wife following his dumping from the team for the third Test alongside James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja, Watson declared Howard did not know him or the game well enough to make the contention that he only "sometimes" does the best thing for the team.

"All I can really say is go around and ask every person I've ever played cricket with and that will give you the best indication of whether I'm a team man or not," Watson said at Sydney airport. "Pat Howard doesn't particularly know me very well. He's come from a rugby background and hasn't been in and around cricket very long. I think the best people to ask are the people I've played cricket with and they'll be able to give their honest opinion."

As for Clarke, of whom Howard said he and Watson had to "sort their issues out", the vice-captain insisted their relationship was strong. Watson also revealed he had spoken to Clarke immediately after landing in Australia following the airing of Howard's comments.

"The way relationships work, there's always ups and downs like there is in marriages, friendships and everything," Watson said of Clarke. "I've been playing cricket with and against Michael Clarke since I was 12. We've got a lot of history as people. We're obviously quite different people in certain ways but very very similar in a lot of ways as well.

"In the end, like you do in every relationship, it goes up and down and things are going really well at the moment with me and Michael. With Pat Howard, he's only come on board the last year and a half. Myself and Michael go a little bit further back than a year and a half."

Maintaining his view that the sanctions for four players having failed to send in feedback ahead of the third Test was extremely harsh, Watson noted how many bouts of injury and rehab he had battled through to keep playing for Australia.

"I, with a few other guys, took it as leading into the Test match and I got that extremely wrong, which meant that it's cost me a Test match," he said. "They [the leadership group] obviously thought that was the right decision for the team at this point in time. I accept that I did the wrong thing with what I did, but I will always find it very hard to accept being suspended from a Test match for my country. 
 "I've missed Test matches and games through injury throughout my career. I feel like I've worked my absolute bum off to have an opportunity to represent my country. When that's taken away from you, you think the actions must be very severe. That's where we differ on our opinions. I think it's extremely harsh. I expressed my extreme disappointment with the punishment. But everything happens for a reason in your life."

Watson's father has spoken of how a future without international competition may be comfortably filled by Twenty20 duty in the IPL and for other clubs, and the sometime allrounder said he would be carefully weighing up his love of the game and the hurt this suspension has caused him.

"It'll give me a chance to reflect on what's really happened over the past couple of days and be able to absorb what's happened and have a think about where things are at," he said. "I absolutely love playing cricket. I love nothing more than being able to have the opportunity and privilege to represent my country. That's something that, when it was taken away from me with this suspension - well, the guys back in India know how much it hurts me."

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

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Posted by ToTellUTheTruth on (March 13, 2013, 20:53 GMT)

Wait...wait for a minute!!! Isn't this guy not even a feature of an ODI side sometime back? Well, may be I was stuck in the flashback, but Oz seems to be struggling a lot...to make this guy a VC (though never performed in a test with the bat or ball). He was good at bashing up on the minnows...sure. A Vice captain? Surely, that is a promotion he did not deserve. Leave him alone to ply his T20 mercenary trade. He seems to be good at it. A team does not need a vice captain anyways. Just point to one player in the team and say he is the captain for this session/match.

Posted by JG2704 on (March 13, 2013, 20:13 GMT)

@TommytuckerSaffa on (March 13, 2013, 7:18 GMT) Maybe Clarke aint the best at dealing with players but how the hell can you say he doesn't lead from the front and he's hiding down the order etc. If he came significantly up the order

A - His form might dip B - Who is there to give them stability in the lower middle order now Hussey's gone.

If averaging what he has done in the last few years - esp as he so often comes in when Oz are in huge trouble - isn't leading from the front then what is?

Posted by zenboomerang on (March 13, 2013, 10:34 GMT)

@ satishchandar... Do try & get your facts right... Watto is the worst performing current top 7 batsmen since being named VC 2 years ago with an average @25.2 over that time while the bowlers Patto @31 with Starc slightly lower @24... Watto's bowling has also been very poor (except 2 dud pitches at Gallle & Cape Town) with an average well over 40.. He should have been benched a long time ago...

Posted by Charlie101 on (March 13, 2013, 8:25 GMT)

I think Watson is digging a deeper hole for himself every time he speaks. His handling of this affair makes KP's youtube and general media savy look excellent in comparison !!! Pattison has the right attitude and will come back a wiser and better cricketer.

Posted by   on (March 13, 2013, 7:32 GMT)

Shane Watson is a Real Team Man Player....His immings against england 161 not out...his innings in champions trophy in india....He is the Best T20 Player.....He is one of the Best Allrounders in world cricket....Respect Shane Watson Simply love the way He Plays His Game....

Posted by   on (March 13, 2013, 7:22 GMT)

Australia will lose again and rather praising India for victory people will give excuses for these 4 guys being absent.

Posted by hodge4pm on (March 13, 2013, 7:21 GMT)

Claydo78@ I was getting your point until I saw "Cummings", It's Cummins and mate he's our best bowler hands down!

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (March 13, 2013, 7:18 GMT)

Clarke is a poor captain. Doesn't lead from the front, hides down the order and has favourites when it comes to team selection. Its quite clear that clarke and watson dont see eye to eye. People blaming the coach for this mess are seriously mistaken, there some ingrained personality clashes within the oz team. Proof is that khwadja has stil not been selected for a game yet, obviously not one of clarkes favourites.

Posted by CricketFollowers on (March 13, 2013, 7:08 GMT)

I dont know many fans are commenting Watson for his ego and form. He is the best player now Aus has got. CA should act fast and fix this problem otherwise the team players relationship will be in turmoil. I dont think its Watson or Clarke, someone like Arthur might play a role of "Divide and Rule". Chappel did the same thing to India few years back and now Mickey is doing to Aus. I dont know why coaches are turning like a teacher instead they should treat them as a friend and get the best out of them. Coaches should be highly approachable not the other way round. If you find something wrong aboyt a player in the past why did you selected him for the tour and selecting him and saying that he dont have a good attitude dont sounds good. I like the way Waugh and llyods captained their side imagine the greats played under their side. They would have just played cricket not mind games as these players do. You can't sack players because of losing two matches.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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