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