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

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