Australia in South Africa 2011-12 November 12, 2011

There was panic in Australia change-room - Watson


Shane Watson, Australia's vice-captain, has conceded that there was panic in the change-rooms as Australia capitulated to 9 for 21 on the second day in Cape Town. And Watson said he struggled to switch on while batting that afternoon after taking five wickets in Australia's earlier demolition of South Africa for 96.

It was only thanks to a last-wicket partnership between Nathan Lyon and Peter Siddle that Australia avoided being dismissed for less than 26, the all-time lowest Test innings, a record that still belongs to the New Zealand team of the 1950s. But being bowled out for 47 was still a disaster and led to a crushing eight-wicket defeat.

That was an unthinkable result after Australia led by 188 after the first innings. The batsmen knew that even another 150 runs would be difficult for South Africa to chase and they played accordingly: flat-footed and with flashing bats, trying for the boundaries that would quickly extend Australia's advantage and put the game beyond the reach of the hosts.

Instead, wicket after wicket kept falling. Within ten overs, the No. 8 Ryan Harris was at the crease. Within 18 overs, the innings was finished.

"There's no doubt there was panic," Watson said. "Just seeing the scoreboard ... it was horrendous really, to be able to think we were 9 for 21 is a complete and utter disaster. I think that is a time in the change-rooms when you do panic.

"I think my mindset was wrong. My mindset was like it always is, aggressive, but I also had to make sure I got through a certain period of time because I knew the ball was still swinging and seaming around enough to be able to put doubt in your mind [as to] where the ball's going to be.

"There's no doubt that my mindset, in the end, was wrong. Unfortunately I think if all our batsmen look back, our mindsets were wrong and how we approached it. We definitely thought that we were going to be able to get a decent total and unfortunately we got nowhere near that."

Part of the problem for Australia stemmed from the early dismissal of Watson, who fell lbw off the third ball of the innings after failing to review an lbw that Hawk-Eye showed would have gone over the stumps. Watson had just taken 5 for 17 and he said it was difficult to switch to batting so quickly after his work with the ball.

"It does a little bit [make it harder] but it's no excuse," he said. "After getting five wickets, you don't have any time to soak it in and re-approach your batting. Before I knew it I was back in the pavilion. It's a balancing act to mentally switch off my bowling and wait to enjoy it until after the day's play. That's something I need to do better because when I have got wickets or bowled quite a bit I haven't scored any runs."

Watson hasn't scored a Test century in more than a year, and as the senior opening partner alongside Phillip Hughes, it's a trend that he needs to rectify. However, Watson said the issue of adjusting his mindset would still be a factor even if he was batting further down the order.

"It's part of being an allrounder, whether I'm opening the batting or in the top five or six I still need to find a way to switch back to my batting," he said. "As an opener, you need to switch on quicker and I haven't been able to find that balance to be able to get going again once I've bowled. I have to make it work."

The Watson-Hughes partnership has failed to scale any significant heights, with both men generally relying on a confident, attacking style. Watson said that while Australia had missed Simon Katich's poise at the top of the order, the side had moved on.

"Simon, when he batted, did a brilliant job for Australia for a three or four-year period," he said. "There's no doubt we miss that in a way but we've moved on from that, so now me and Phil have to set up our own partnership and unfortunately we haven't been able to keep going at all."

Watson was one of five Australia players who took part in an optional training session at Newlands on Saturday, on what was supposed to be the fourth day of the Test. Australia will hit the nets in Cape Town again on Sunday, before flying to Johannesburg on Monday.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RandyOZ on November 15, 2011, 10:06 GMT

    Haddin has to go, that's the simple fact.

  • Amol_Gh on November 14, 2011, 12:49 GMT

    @Masud Vorajee: I could have understood if it was about the current Australian team but u actually said ***Dravid, Kallis and Tendulkar*** are temperamental players ??!! Is it supposed to be a joke or something ??

  • tdobbo on November 14, 2011, 9:04 GMT

    Mannix, yes you are missing something. It was terrible batting, especially from the Saffers because they were batting against perhaps the worst Aussie bowling attack in memory.

  • Mannix16 on November 14, 2011, 6:35 GMT

    ICC is such a joke. Australia plays Sri Lanka on a Galle pitch that takes 5 days to create respond and the pitch is deemed to be unfit. Game played in South Africa in which scores of 75 and 45 are made and the game ends in less than 2.5 days and the pitch is praised. Am I missing something here?

  • dummy4fb on November 14, 2011, 5:58 GMT

    Ok, so Watson reckons he failed 'cos he didn't have enough time to switch over to batting. Assuming he'd batted at no. 6 then, would the extra 5 minutes he'd had made much difference?

  • tdobbo on November 14, 2011, 2:17 GMT

    I thought the Aussies would send over Doug the Rug to strengthen their batting.

  • gzawilliam on November 14, 2011, 0:38 GMT

    Well Watson is hinting to himself to drop down the order. Cannot switch on properly for opening after bowling. Tell tale sign he needs to drop down the order. We need someone with some grunt down the mid order anyway. watson needs to be spared this hard task and get dedicated openers a chance.. Not warner though. Bring over klinger , davis , daniel harris , anyone with a better temperment than warner.

  • Meety on November 14, 2011, 0:19 GMT

    @ hyclass - I agree 100% with the 5 minute attention span - but I thought Haddin was woeful with the bat. I've been a long term fan of his & I think he was a great follow up to Gilchrest. The way he got out in BOTH innings is systematic of the way he has been getting out for a while now & with Wade tearing it up in the Shield, I would of had Wade on the plane instead of Warner. Which actually brings me to the point of "Why is Warner being sent over?" - Khawaja is already there. Unless there is a training mishap, its Marsh out - Khawaja in!

  • Raginggbull on November 13, 2011, 18:04 GMT

    21/9 : Aus need to think.. BUT there is no place to speculate the whole team by a single innings. Letz see the upcoming scenes guyz.

  • Aussasinator on November 13, 2011, 17:27 GMT

    It was an overwhelming performance by SA, smarting under their first innings low score. SA is a far superior team and they will steamroll the Oz in the next test. Aussies wont be able to bowl them out once with this bowling attack. I see that there's too much talk only abt what the Aussies must do but few have praised the thoroughly superior show by a great bowling attack and the ominous touch of the SA openers.

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