Watson sees Johnson as all-round obstacle
Shane Watson fears that Mitchell Johnson's evolution into a genuine allrounder could obstruct his return, and that of Andrew Symonds, to the Australian Test team. Johnson's Man-of-the-Match performance in Johannesburg - in which he claimed match figures of 8 for 137 to compliment his career-best 96 not out in the first innings - greatly impressed Watson, who believes his former Queensland team-mate could soon find himself promoted to the Australian middle order.
Johnson has always possessed a robust, uncomplicated and predominantly straight technique, but it has only been in recent months that the left-hander has converted potential into runs. Prior to his dismissal for 1 in the second innings in Johannesburg, Johnson had compiled scores of 43 not out, 64 and 96 not out in his previous three innings. He has now scored 536 runs at 29.77 in his 19 Tests.
"If Mitch keeps batting like that, it could very well mean that he could find himself at No. 6 or 7 in the batting line-up," Watson said. "That would mean I would have some extremely tough competition on my hands, and the same would go for all the allrounders out there. It is great to see him do well, though. He has worked really hard on his game and he deserves to reap the rewards."
Watson made significant strides in his comeback from back stress fractures by appearing in Queensland's Sheffield Shield victory over New South Wales as a batsman only. The allrounder will not commence bowling work for several more weeks, but is using the time away to change his action into one that will deliver outswing to the right-handers. He will return to competitive bowling when he turns out for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL next month.
"I'm looking at this as an opportunity to add another string to my bow," Watson said. "Dennis [Lillee], Troy [Cooley] and me have talked for a while about working on my action to get more conventional swing, and we're doing that now. I'm working on a few technical things - like my release point, and trying not to pull my front arm across my body - that should allow me to do something more with the ball. I'm feeling pretty good about, and hopefully it can make me a better bowler."
Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo