Australia in India 2012-13 March 25, 2013

Watson admits batting form a concern


Shane Watson has conceded that he risks being dropped unless he can find a way to start scoring big runs again, after yet another disappointing series with the bat. Watson, who was the acting captain in the final Test in Delhi, managed only 99 runs at 16.50 during the Indian tour. This continued a long, unproductive batting stretch, where in the past two years he has made 627 Test runs at 24.11, and has not posted a century.

His lack of runs was even more noticeable during this series because he had chosen not to bowl in an effort to stay fit and string together as much cricket as possible after an injury-plagued couple of seasons. Before the series, the captain, Michael Clarke, said that as a specialist batsman, Watson would face competition from a much larger pool of players for a place in the team, as compared to when he plays as an allrounder.

"There is no doubt that I need to score runs," Watson said at the end of the Indian tour. "As a batsman who's batting in the top four at the moment, I need to score runs. Unfortunately, during this series I've scored nowhere near the [amount of] runs that I've wanted to, to be able to contribute to the team's performance.

"There's no doubt cricket's a performance-based game. If I'm not scoring runs or taking wickets, then you can't expect to be picked. There are no secrets about it. You can't hide behind anything, apart from your performance. In this series I've not performed anywhere near where I've wanted to. I'm looking forward to being able to continue to play and hopefully get some continuity with my game over the next few months, and be in some good touch when the selectors announce the Ashes squad."

Watson's case for being part of the XI for the first Ashes Test will be strengthened by the fact that he is expected to be bowling again by then, and his medium-pace has a habit of providing breakthroughs at important times for the Australians. But bowling has also generally been responsible for the many injuries that have prevented him from playing even half the amount of Tests he could have.

He missed all of the 2011-12 home summer of Tests due to calf and hamstring problems, and played only half of Australia's home Tests in 2012-13, again due to a calf injury. However, Watson intends to slowly start building up his bowling workload during the second half of the IPL, and hopes to be in a position to bowl unrestricted during the Ashes, which starts in July.

"One thing I have realised is how much I do miss bowling, and it has been a plan over the last two or three months to get my body to a position where I can get back into bowling again, and hopefully hold together for the cricket we have coming up," Watson said. "There is no doubt coming here as a specialist batsman has not worked out anywhere near where I wanted it to.

"It didn't work in that regard, but in the end I am an allrounder, I love being an allrounder. At times it has been hard not to bowl knowing what I can contribute to the game. I know I won't always be able to score runs or take wickets, but if I'm an allrounder, I've got more [of a] chance to contribute to the team's performance and success. I have to stay on top of my body so that I can play the amount of cricket I want to."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Binoj on March 27, 2013, 12:15 GMT

    Fast medium bowling alrounders like Watson, Mathews and Irfan Pathan are very crucial to the balance of the team. It is so crucial that they keep their fitness to be able to do both. Unfortunately all the three has fitness concerns.

  • Andrew on March 27, 2013, 0:27 GMT

    Fully fit & functioning Watto is a an asset in any team. However, the bloke carries a lot of baggage (IMO). It's interesting in ODIs the vast difference between his 1st & 2nd innings batting stats. This is due to him being concerned about his bowling workloads. He is the sort of bloke that SHOULD NOT be selected if he is not 100% fit. So IMO, if he cannot bowl - he is not 100% fit & should NOT be selected. I found it frustrating that he just started to look like assembling some sort of form v SL, then got injured, & I believe it is one of the main reasons his Test form has been horrendous, due to no continuity. UNLESS he is okay to bowl 10 overs a day - he is not fit & should not be considered for Test duty until that happens. When Watto is fit & bowling, I think Oz have the best ODI side in the world (when not in the sub-continent). @Chris_P on (March 26, 2013, 9:12 GMT) - his hissy fit over the homework-gate saga, should of a) had his VC dropped & b) precluded him from captaincy!

  • George on March 26, 2013, 12:43 GMT

    I think he is mentally fragile. He certainly has ability. But Tests do just that they test every aspect of a batsman. At that level it is as much about mental fortitude as well as the physical and ability elements. Watson does not strike the impression of being able to concentrate for long. The ODI and T20 formats require far less and are less of an examination of a batsman.

    The problem with the Australian side is that they do not have a strong leader in Clarke. His personal performances until India have been exemplary, but he lacks the grit and inspiration of a Waugh or a young Ponting. Nor do they have an able spinner. South Africa gets away with having mediocre spinners as their pace attack is currently the best in the world and does the job. Australia's pace attack is constantly changing and being rotated.

    Management seems to be aggravating the problem . Mickey Arthur did not manage the team well in India.

  • Keith on March 26, 2013, 12:31 GMT

    @StarHawk... You haven't seen any critism of Australia on CricInfo?? I suggest you try having a look through the coverages of all the losses again, this time with your reading glasses on.

  • Roo on March 26, 2013, 11:58 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...

  • Gary on March 26, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    Only Aus would make a big thing about discipline, sending 4 players home as a result, only to bring one back and make him captain in the next test.....

    You couldn't make it up

  • Kev on March 26, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    Watson is a class player. How many players have form slumps and work through as many injuries as he has? Tendulkar, Ponting, Laxman, Smith, Kirtsten, Rhodes etc have all experienced the agony of form deprivation. Just cut the BS and let him get on with it. It doesn't matter what format he is playing, just let him play and regain som eof that class we know he is capable. I guess the best batsmen in the world wouldn't have much fun on the doctored Indian pitches. It's ok though, what goes around comes around Mr. President of the BCCI!! Cricket....the great leveler.

  • Peter on March 26, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    Let's see, the past 3 seasons of first class cricket where you average LESS than 30 & you concede there is a risk of being dropped!!??? Watto, you have to be kidding! After that dummy spit for being disciplined, you get rewarded with the captaincy? The Marx brothers couldn't have scripted a better scenario!

  • Anupam on March 26, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    As an all-rounder he definitely deserves in playing XI. But as a batsman he don't. Klinger, Watson(C), Marsh(VC), Clarke, Ferguson/Forrest, Paine/haddin, Smith, MJ, Pattinson, Siddle, Beer/Boyce.

  • Mehul on March 26, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    Initially i doubted his ability as a good all-rounder. And when we was going to open in Ashes in Eng, i was like huh. But he did pretty well and showed the solid technique he has. Also his power hitting is known in T20/ODIs. But the problem has been that he has not converted many good starts for a big score.Temperament & long term concentration comes in here i think. I have no doubt he is one of best current batsmen and all-rounder in Aus. Given his experience in India, i thought he would make some good contributions. Possibly team issues took its toll? Also i think not bowling completely is not the solution. His bowling should be limited, cause as an all-rounder getting some good overs will also boost the confidence when he comes out to bat. He should focus more on fitness & test cricket and limit on ODIs/T20,etc. Not living upto the potential in tests will leave an empty feeling. Come on Watto!

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