India v Australia, 4th Test, Delhi, 3rd day March 24, 2013

Top-order batting let us down - Watson


Australia's acting captain Shane Watson has said a 4-0 thrashing is what Australia deserved given their struggles over the past few weeks and India's outstanding performances. Watson was in charge for the final Test in Delhi when Michael Clarke was ruled out due to his back injury but he was unable to turn the tide of a series that flowed in only one direction, and a loss inside three days was hardly the way the Australians wanted to end the tour.

The only other time Australia have lost a series 4-0 was when an exhausted squad flew directly from a Test tour in India to South Africa in 1969-70 and the loss at the hands of Ali Bacher's men cost captain Bill Lawry his job. Not since a team ravaged by World Series Cricket departures lost 5-1 to England in 1978-79 had Australia lost this many matches in a Test series.

"It's extremely disappointing," Watson said. "We came here with high hopes of having a good series here and the 4-0 here is what we deserved. The Indians have totally outplayed us. We haven't played to our best unfortunately. It certainly has been a big learning curve and that is one of the biggest challenges for us as a team is continuing to learn very quickly. We have got quite a number of young guys who are still learning.

"But with me for example, I haven't scored the runs that I wanted. I knew how important it would be to be able to score runs to help the team get to a total while other guys are learning around me. That has been extremely disappointing, knowing I have played a lot of cricket here and I didn't score anywhere near the runs that I wanted. Especially when the team is learning in these conditions, these conditions are as foreign as we will ever get around the world."

Watson was one of the biggest disappointments for Australia on this tour, averaging 16.50 in his three Tests, and he was one of three members of the top six who averaged less than 20. Watson's drought without a century now stands at 39 innings and stretches back nearly two and a half years, and the dearth of hundreds is starting to spread: Michael Clarke scored the only one for Australia on this trip.

"Hopefully I haven't rubbed off on too many of them because that would be a shame if they all get my disease," Watson said. "For all of us as top-order batsmen, it has been very disappointing. Michael continues to be in amazing form. We've all got to continue to strive for what Michael has been able to achieve as a batsman. All top-order batsmen, we have to be scoring big runs if we want to be considered in the top six and playing consistently.

"It just hasn't been good enough from all of us to be able to score the runs we know we needed, especially in the first innings. That has probably been the biggest disappointment. We know that conditions change later on as the game gets older. The first innings really is the important one to get a big total. I'm the first one to put my hand up because I certainly haven't been good enough in this series.

"For me as an experienced senior player, it's part of my role to be able to stand up and score runs. It has been very disappointing not to be able to do that. I personally take a lot of blame for that. I take just about full responsibility to be able to show the way and I've certainly got to get a lot better."

However, Watson also said the challenging pitches at all four venues needed to be taken into consideration when assessing Australia's batting.

"The conditions here are very foreign and the conditions have been just about the opposite to anything we have got in Australia, that's for sure, but also playing cricket here in the past whether it was Test matches, one-dayers or T20s, the wickets have been different to those as well," he said. "It's been a big learning curve for everyone.

"To see how the wicket played in this game was certainly a huge challenge against their high quality spinners and even they struggled at times with our high quality spinners as well. We've all learned a hell of a lot out of this series. We certainly need to continue to improve and improve and improve very quickly. With the challenges and the series we have coming up, the conditions are going to be different to what we have in this series."

The coming months for Australia will provide the challenge of changing formats a few times, for some players will spend the next month in India for the IPL before the Champions Trophy in England and then back-to-back Ashes series. A united side is important in such a big year and Watson said the so-called homework sackings - Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja were not considered for the third Test - had brought the side together.

"It was a little bit rocky there for about a day," Watson said when asked about his relationship with Clarke and the coach Mickey Arthur. "But after that things are very good. Michael and the leadership group had to make a decision. At the time I wasn't very happy with the decision that was made but we've all sat down and had a great chat and we've all moved on and we're really excited about the future that's coming up.

"It has been a big shot in the arm for just about the whole group let alone the Mohali four. It has been a big shot in the arm for us to be able to galvanise the team. It's one thing coming back after the few days I had at home for the birth of my little boy. It has been amazing to see how the team has really come together. There was a bit of collateral damage with a few of us going down and missing a Test match. What has come out of it has been a very united group."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Roo on March 26, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    Yes Watto - the top order did let us down & the worst culprit was you by a large margin... The captaincy was a farce - why no article on Watto's crazy selection of Maxwell as opener?... Surely only someone with a T20 mentality would have done that & a complete disrespect to Test cricket & its traditions & skill requirements...

    Guess Watto since being named VC now has a bat aver @24.11 says it all...

  • Simon on March 26, 2013, 2:58 GMT

    Why do CA put spokesmen up to trot out drivel like the headline. "Press conferences" have become such a waste of everyones' time with the bleedin' obvious taking up the airwaves. The hacks trot off satisfied that they've filled their quota and the player who got the short straw blows a sigh of relief that he got away without having to say anything. Of course Australia needs more from an inexperienced top 7. Take Clarke out and Warner, Cowan, Hughes, Khawaja, Wade, Watson (41) and smith have 100 odd tests between them. We know none of these guys will turn out to be legends of the game, but how do you get experience without playing, or consistency by being shuffled around the order - in the same Test? How about making Arthur or Inverarity front the press conference and ask them those questions? Their evasion would tells us a hell of a lot more than Watsons bog standard bland quotes.

  • Ashok on March 25, 2013, 13:15 GMT

    Every team needs a basic batting line up on which the rest of the batting rides.At the start of the series I expected Watson, Warner & Clarke will be the mainstay of the Aussie batting with Smith shinning in the back up role. While Clarke & Smith (albeit dropped in the first 2 Tests) shouldered their responsibility, Watson & Warner were huge disappointments. The manner of their dismissals showed lack of responsibiliy or discipline. Both tried to hit their way out of trouble on pitches foreign to them.Their batting, in short, matched the "insanity" definition of Einstien. Watson is right when he admits that he was the biggest let down. With "Ashes" series ahead, this team is lacking in guys who challenge the bowlers rather than fold up.India played just as badly on the OZ pitches with Sehwag, Gambhir & Co. constantly getting caught while fishing for balls outside the off. Lack of experience of each team to play in opposite country needs to be addressed to make future Tests balanced.

  • Ahmed on March 25, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    well the only reason of Australia's 4-0 in this series is its coach mickey arthur and captain michael clarke. both are running the team as they desired. This is not australia's test squad,rather it is a T20 squad. The shot selection was very poor by players.Also hughes was the main problem,he does not know how to play spin in indian deady spin pitches.I dont know why usman khuwaja was not selected in the whole series?? why hughes was in the playing 11 instead of poor performance???

  • Doug on March 25, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    A lot of people are suggesting that people be dropped who were not suited to Indian conditions, and were always likely to do badly. I didn't think Hughes would be any good in India, but would be good in England. Hughes actually played better that I had expected in the end. I thought Cowan would have been worse than he was, but he'll do well in England. Starc didn't get many wickets, surely he must play in England, he's good there. I think Warner would be ok in England but am not sure about Watson. It's horses for courses people. Just because the selectors chose the wrong horses in India, doesn't mean they are wrong for England.

    Also, you can't throw away the experience gained by the India tour players and replace them with more inexperienced players. They have experience in India, now add England, and more countries, and they'll become better players in the future. Next tour of India, I don't want to hear that only 2 players have played there before.

  • arthur on March 25, 2013, 8:38 GMT

    Not only Top Order but Your Batting is worry watto ..

    Bring in Marsh brothers shaun at 3 and mitchell as allrounder

    Please sack all selectors ... Bring in Lehmann as assistant coach .. Martyn as batting coach and Mcgrath/ gillespie for bowling

  • Michael Ponnudurai on March 25, 2013, 8:21 GMT

    Best for Aus is to bring in players (batsmen and bowlers-especially spinners) who did well in the recent sheffield shield and weed out bits and pieces players who did poorly in the recent Test series.

  • Brenton on March 25, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    Watson was, for me, the biggest batting disappointment this tour. Cowan is Cowan, Warner is never going to dominate on difficult pitches, Hughes worked hard and improved, Smith was a surprise, Wade is a number 7 and isn't really a good 'keeper anyway. But Watson, getting out more than once trying to pull balls just short of a length on Indian pitches with variable bounce, well. Poor. Where is his head space at? And he's our captain?

  • Ahmed on March 25, 2013, 7:27 GMT

    We needed another specialist batsman....he was there in the squad but not used!!

  • Amith on March 25, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    I wouldn't be too harsh on Watson. he had to try something different, because the conventional wasn't working.I guess you're damned if you do & damned if you don't!I can't believe Australia played only four 'specialist' bats - Warner, Cowan, Hughes, Watson. No wonder we can't take a trick…..Everyone could see that Khawaja should have been bought in to strengthen the batting but he doesn't have a fancy name like Big Show so that must have cost him.

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