South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth February 19, 2014

Watson must bowl - Clarke

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Australia captain Michael Clarke has cast further doubt over Shane Watson's place in the team, confirming that the allrounder will not be considered until he is fit again to bowl, but also admitted it may be difficult to find room for him this series even if he can do so.

A grassy surface in Port Elizabeth would be ideally suited to Watson's seam and swing but while he has returned to running drills and batting in the nets he has not yet bowled at all, something he would be expected to do to approach his top pace to be seriously considered again. This gives him virtually no time to be ready for the second Test and very little ahead of the third, which begins only four days after the match at St George's Park.

As ESPNcricinfo reported on Sunday, the selectors have decided that Watson will be out of contention for a place until he is again able to bowl following a calf strain. It had already been determined before the series that he was to be demoted from No. 3 to No. 6 in the batting order, to allow him recovery time after bowling. Watson bowled useful change overs during the Ashes, breaking several partnerships while keeping runs down.

"The information I have from the selectors is if he's not bowling he'll be unavailable for selection," Clarke said. "I don't know the answer to that question [if it's a change in policy]. You'll probably have to ask Darren Lehmann and the other selectors. From the information I have they'll only reselect him if he's available to bowl.

"As soon as Watto is fit and available I know he'll want to be back out on the park. I don't know if you guys watched him in the nets but he's creaming them at the moment. He's a huge player for us, so the sooner we can have Watto back I think the better for this team."

Casting his eye over a pitch that he said could finish the match in three days if the grass on it was not shaved significantly, Clarke expected South Africa to replace the concussed Ryan McLaren with an extra batsman in Dean Elgar, despite the latter's removal from South Africa's list of central contracts.

"I think they will pick an extra batsman," Clarke said. "I think if the wicket stays like it is, it will be a three-dayer, especially with two fantastic bowling attacks. So I don't think it will stay like that, I thinkĀ  they will take something off it, but generally this wicket does does a bit and I think South Africa will go with an extra batter and back their three quicks and a spinner."

The success of that formula for Australia is one of several factors limiting Watson's options to return to the team, alongside the strong impressions made by Shaun Marsh and Alex Doolan with the bat in Centurion. Neither man could expect to be dropped after their displays on a difficult wicket.

"It's a good problem to have," Clarke said of the selection squeeze. "Any time you've got a class allrounder available you've got to try and find some room. Fortunately I'm not a selector so I won't have to make that call.

"The two guys that came in, Dools and Shaun, couldn't have performed any better. They were outstanding. They've grabbed their opportunity with both hands. The guys who've been playing throughout the Ashes have done very well as well."

The only other batsman in the team who has left the slightest window open to Watson is Chris Rogers, who was notably troubled by the bounce in Centurion to be twice dismissed cheaply. Clarke however cited Rogers' outstanding displays against England over the dual Ashes series, in which the left-hander was the leading overall run-scorer on either side.

"I think Bucky is going well, he's done a great job for us," Clarke said. "He was the leading run-scorer if you combine both Ashes series. He's scored two hundreds in his last two Tests of the Australian summer. They weren't the easiest batting conditions the other day. He's a opening batter, he's got the hardest job in the game. Chris has done a fantastic job for us and I'm confident he'll score runs for us in this Test."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Back-Foot-Cringe on | February 20, 2014, 14:44 GMT

    @Clavers - "In his past six test matches Watson has averaged 49.72 with the bat, with two centuries and two half-centuries."

    Well, you are definitely having it your way with the stats.

    Those "past six test matches" conveniently begin with Watto's 176 in the 5th test vs. Poms at the Oval & also conveniently include his statistically helpful 83 not out at the MCG.

    Fact: Watto averaged 38.33 over the 5-match Ashes series in Oz, which was significantly lower than EVERY OTHER designated batsman, i.e., Haddin, Warner, Rogers, Smith, Clarke. Plus, his 83 not out adds about 4 runs to his average. Had he gotten out, Watto would've made 34.5 for that series.

    Hmmm.

    Mate, context & perspective are everything.

    When he's "on song" (as people are so fond of saying), he's awesome. But then, every batsman is awesome when on song.

  • POSTED BY Back-Foot-Cringe on | February 20, 2014, 13:31 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx - Watto bats 1-7 precisely because he can't nail down a permanent position in the order. It's like, all these years later, we're still looking for a place where he'll contribute & excel in tests. He was packaged & marketed as a top order bat, which is by now a proven fail. Ave of 36.33 is a luxury Aus can't afford. Plus, he's constantly bloody injured so let's get Faulkner going as THE all-rounder.

    Three years ago or so, Watto was, for my $$, the best ODI player in the world, propelling Aus to #1 status with both bat & ball. He was a consistently superb performer in this format. Career ODI batting ave of 41.06! He has a home here. Doesn't have to bowl too many overs. Can play his natural game.

    He's almost 33 years old. Several other players are up there too. We can't have mass retirements all at once like we did several years ago. Look how that turned out.

    Okay, give him a go at #6. But he MUST be able to bowl. If he fails at 6 or gets injured AGAIN, then bye-bye.

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | February 20, 2014, 1:43 GMT

    @Back-Foot-Cringe: Okay, i'll admit that Watson hasn't delivered with the bat for the most part, but this is the one area where i think he is judged unfairly. Watson has hardly ever batted at no.3!!! His Career average is built up over batting in every position from 1 to 7 or 8. In the time he has moved up to three, he has averaged 40 odd.

  • POSTED BY thectexperience on | February 20, 2014, 1:33 GMT

    Agree with Ravi. Watto is an asset on a flat deck, but on a greentop we don't need him to bowl a side out and moreover his batting won't be much use in such conditions. Bring him to the UAE!

  • POSTED BY MinusZero on | February 20, 2014, 1:29 GMT

    Watson is so overrated in tests. Does he supply the team beer or something? I am bewildered as to why they think he is so great. His record is modest at best, definitely not world class. His career batting ave is 36.33. In wins he averages 37.39. Bowling average is 31.83. In wins he averages 27.64. These are not statistics that show how important he is to winning games. He just plods along not really doing much. Retire to ODI and T20 already!

  • POSTED BY thectexperience on | February 20, 2014, 1:25 GMT

    As an Aussie fan I don't really appreciate the framing of this piece by Dan Brettig. Clarke makes it clear that it's not his decision, yet the title makes it seem as though Clarke is stamping his authority on the question of Watto's place in the team: pretty unhelpful stuff giving the history between the players.

    I'm as frustrated with Watson's batting as anyone, but I wouldn't want to overlook his value in giving respite to Johnson and Harris. Those guys are probably the #1 and #2 reasons for our dramatic recent success. The longer we can keep them going, the better, right? No-one wants to see Harris pounding away on a flat deck in a four-pronged bowling attack, if/when Amla/de Villers/Misbah/Younus Khan get on top of us at some stage.

    When Watto can bowl again I'd have him open for Rogers and be happy when he gets to 50. All we need is for him to stall the new-ball attack because the current lower-order is gold.

  • POSTED BY Barnesy4444 on | February 20, 2014, 0:33 GMT

    Watson cannot be discarded just yet. I don't think Marsh's form will last (it never has before), Doolan is an unknown at this level, Rogers is 36 and Clarke has a buggered back.

    All we need is another form slump from Marsh, or Doolan to be found out or Clarke to become a cripple and we will need a dominating middle order bat whether he can bowl or not.

  • POSTED BY Barnesy4444 on | February 20, 2014, 0:29 GMT

    He should have stayed batting at 6 like Punter wanted him to do all along. He could have seriously dominated there against the old ball and tired bowlers. He could have held his spot simply as a batsman who could bowl a few handy partnership breaking overs.

    It started going downhill for Watson when Clarke began bowling him 25-30 overs an innings..............

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 19, 2014, 21:03 GMT

    You have to read this closely, "...the selectors have decided that Watson will be out of contention for a place until he is again able to bowl following a calf strain..." Watto will never be able to bowl following a calf strain. Ergo...

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 19, 2014, 20:55 GMT

    Watson could be a very useful 12th man, I'm sure he wouldn't have dropped that dolly like Elgar, and running the drinks would keep his hammies warm.

  • POSTED BY Back-Foot-Cringe on | February 20, 2014, 14:44 GMT

    @Clavers - "In his past six test matches Watson has averaged 49.72 with the bat, with two centuries and two half-centuries."

    Well, you are definitely having it your way with the stats.

    Those "past six test matches" conveniently begin with Watto's 176 in the 5th test vs. Poms at the Oval & also conveniently include his statistically helpful 83 not out at the MCG.

    Fact: Watto averaged 38.33 over the 5-match Ashes series in Oz, which was significantly lower than EVERY OTHER designated batsman, i.e., Haddin, Warner, Rogers, Smith, Clarke. Plus, his 83 not out adds about 4 runs to his average. Had he gotten out, Watto would've made 34.5 for that series.

    Hmmm.

    Mate, context & perspective are everything.

    When he's "on song" (as people are so fond of saying), he's awesome. But then, every batsman is awesome when on song.

  • POSTED BY Back-Foot-Cringe on | February 20, 2014, 13:31 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx - Watto bats 1-7 precisely because he can't nail down a permanent position in the order. It's like, all these years later, we're still looking for a place where he'll contribute & excel in tests. He was packaged & marketed as a top order bat, which is by now a proven fail. Ave of 36.33 is a luxury Aus can't afford. Plus, he's constantly bloody injured so let's get Faulkner going as THE all-rounder.

    Three years ago or so, Watto was, for my $$, the best ODI player in the world, propelling Aus to #1 status with both bat & ball. He was a consistently superb performer in this format. Career ODI batting ave of 41.06! He has a home here. Doesn't have to bowl too many overs. Can play his natural game.

    He's almost 33 years old. Several other players are up there too. We can't have mass retirements all at once like we did several years ago. Look how that turned out.

    Okay, give him a go at #6. But he MUST be able to bowl. If he fails at 6 or gets injured AGAIN, then bye-bye.

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | February 20, 2014, 1:43 GMT

    @Back-Foot-Cringe: Okay, i'll admit that Watson hasn't delivered with the bat for the most part, but this is the one area where i think he is judged unfairly. Watson has hardly ever batted at no.3!!! His Career average is built up over batting in every position from 1 to 7 or 8. In the time he has moved up to three, he has averaged 40 odd.

  • POSTED BY thectexperience on | February 20, 2014, 1:33 GMT

    Agree with Ravi. Watto is an asset on a flat deck, but on a greentop we don't need him to bowl a side out and moreover his batting won't be much use in such conditions. Bring him to the UAE!

  • POSTED BY MinusZero on | February 20, 2014, 1:29 GMT

    Watson is so overrated in tests. Does he supply the team beer or something? I am bewildered as to why they think he is so great. His record is modest at best, definitely not world class. His career batting ave is 36.33. In wins he averages 37.39. Bowling average is 31.83. In wins he averages 27.64. These are not statistics that show how important he is to winning games. He just plods along not really doing much. Retire to ODI and T20 already!

  • POSTED BY thectexperience on | February 20, 2014, 1:25 GMT

    As an Aussie fan I don't really appreciate the framing of this piece by Dan Brettig. Clarke makes it clear that it's not his decision, yet the title makes it seem as though Clarke is stamping his authority on the question of Watto's place in the team: pretty unhelpful stuff giving the history between the players.

    I'm as frustrated with Watson's batting as anyone, but I wouldn't want to overlook his value in giving respite to Johnson and Harris. Those guys are probably the #1 and #2 reasons for our dramatic recent success. The longer we can keep them going, the better, right? No-one wants to see Harris pounding away on a flat deck in a four-pronged bowling attack, if/when Amla/de Villers/Misbah/Younus Khan get on top of us at some stage.

    When Watto can bowl again I'd have him open for Rogers and be happy when he gets to 50. All we need is for him to stall the new-ball attack because the current lower-order is gold.

  • POSTED BY Barnesy4444 on | February 20, 2014, 0:33 GMT

    Watson cannot be discarded just yet. I don't think Marsh's form will last (it never has before), Doolan is an unknown at this level, Rogers is 36 and Clarke has a buggered back.

    All we need is another form slump from Marsh, or Doolan to be found out or Clarke to become a cripple and we will need a dominating middle order bat whether he can bowl or not.

  • POSTED BY Barnesy4444 on | February 20, 2014, 0:29 GMT

    He should have stayed batting at 6 like Punter wanted him to do all along. He could have seriously dominated there against the old ball and tired bowlers. He could have held his spot simply as a batsman who could bowl a few handy partnership breaking overs.

    It started going downhill for Watson when Clarke began bowling him 25-30 overs an innings..............

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 19, 2014, 21:03 GMT

    You have to read this closely, "...the selectors have decided that Watson will be out of contention for a place until he is again able to bowl following a calf strain..." Watto will never be able to bowl following a calf strain. Ergo...

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 19, 2014, 20:55 GMT

    Watson could be a very useful 12th man, I'm sure he wouldn't have dropped that dolly like Elgar, and running the drinks would keep his hammies warm.

  • POSTED BY Sir_Francis on | February 19, 2014, 20:42 GMT

    The way I read this is that Watson is not considered to be better than Marsh, Doolan and maybe Hughes because they don't have to bowl.

    I think that is a correct assessment. Watson has shown zero improvement as a batsman. Time to move on.

  • POSTED BY GrindAR on | February 19, 2014, 17:12 GMT

    Up recently, Watto brought results with ball more consistently than with the bat, precisely in tests. His 6th down and ball will make him hard to drop by anyone. He brings in variety in bowling, if not him it help his other end bowler get wickets, because he never let batsmen settle even after they faced 10+ overs.. that's his weapon and Aussies too... He must give respect to (t)his very skill and be an impact player... which he is not in recent times... (a year or so) due to his mindset...

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | February 19, 2014, 16:39 GMT

    Rogers,no matter how old he is ,should not be an issue whatsoever ,his technic is good,done the job.If Wattos fit and able to bowl he's a maybe.You obviously leave your 2 openers together.He's been punted from first drop,so where does he slot in? Drop Marsh the Dooles both batted like champs in the1st test,no disrespect to Watto (contrary to popular opinion did us proud at home ) but I don't think they should change the team.

  • POSTED BY TopTipper on | February 19, 2014, 16:24 GMT

    Watto is a flamboyant all-round talent no questioning that. However, allow me to make my point through a paradoxical comparison with Sachin. Sachin showed great talent with seam bowling in his early days. He could swing them both ways with considerable swing, even on flat Indian wickets. However, the conspiracy theory is, he was instantly ill-advised (to the detriment of national benefit) by a few influential Mumbai ex-cricketers to pare back his bowling talent to lengthen his batting career. Watto is no Sachin when it comes to batting, but the attitude (towards bowling) seems similar. Watto seems to have a personal agenda beneath. One cannot ignore the fact that the longevity of his career has great monetary benefits and may I dare say one would argue the same when it comes to Sachin. #Indianfan

  • POSTED BY cricket_fan_boy on | February 19, 2014, 16:20 GMT

    The title of this article is in my view very misleading, especially given the history between the two players. As many have pointed out, Clarke has simply described the position of the selectors towards picking Watson. Clarke is not a selector, and the remarks which he did make regarding having Watson back in the side were overwhelmingly positive.

  • POSTED BY Back-Foot-Cringe on | February 19, 2014, 15:39 GMT

    "[T]he selectors have decided that Watson will be out of contention for a place until he is again able to bowl following a calf strain. It had already been determined before the series that he was to be demoted from No. 3 to No. 6 in the batting order, to allow him recovery time after bowling."

    The best inference here is that the selectors don't consider Watto an asset at #3. Number 3 is typically under the most pressure in a line-up. He's proven repeatedly he is not a reliable performer when things turn crucial. Yeah, I can only see him at #6 belting the cover off a soft old ball when a platform's been built by earlier guys.

    His two best efforts in the Ashes were: 1) Perth, 2nd inns., AFTER Aus built on a huge 1st inns. lead w/ Warner's 112 & Rogers's 54, THEN Watto got 103; & 2) Melb., 2nd inns., again AFTER Aus had a big lead plus Rogers had already made 116 & Warner 25, THEN Watto got 83 not out.

    At other times, he is mostly useless at #3. Four 100s in 95 innings is proof.

  • POSTED BY Jagger on | February 19, 2014, 15:21 GMT

    I'm with you Buggsy. He let his own maximisation of income to be earned out of the game detrimentally affect his output for Australia. Had he chosen to rest over playing rebel tours one could accept the missed singles. When bowling we could overlook his over the top wicket celebrations, by himself, in his own world, while we just watched, hoping someone would say something to him like, calm down mate where's your straightjacket?

    There comes a time when the faith others shown in you must be repaid. Watson, Test cricket's roulette wheel, no longer holds any return for the house.

  • POSTED BY Back-Foot-Cringe on | February 19, 2014, 14:36 GMT

    Judging by the frequency that they get hit by the ball, Watto's pads are the biggest in the history of the game. Come on, when he comes to the crease, especially when an opener has gone real cheap, SW looks like getting out every ball. He is NOT & never was a test-quality top order bat. But his bowling? When he's fit enough, he's as useful a fourth seamer as there is in the game.

    When he's fit enough, that is.

    Since Ponting's skills started noticeably eroding around 2010 or so, Aus #3 spot has been a statistical debacle. Which is why Aus top order has seemed so vulnerable for so long. Number 3 is the most important bloke in the whole line-up. Is Doolan the boy? We won't know for a while. It ain't Watto, though.

    Is Watto more useful for ODIs & T20s? Absolutely, IMO. Would like to see him out of tests completely & become a one-dayer exclusively.

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | February 19, 2014, 12:54 GMT

    Jeremy Dezso makes a very good point. What if either or both of Doolan and Marsh bag a pair next game? Are we really that fickle? We might be looking too far ahead, there is no way Watson has played his last test, especially with the UAE tour in October where an all rounder will be a necessity.

  • POSTED BY gbanger1970 on | February 19, 2014, 12:46 GMT

    I expect players in the near future, given such competition for a place, might go back to the age old idea of not acknowledging the slightest of injuries and make the most of an amazing opportunities they are given. Well done Shaun Marsh. He's got all the shots Watson doesn't. Well done Steve Smith. Hes's got the tenacity Watson doesn't. Thoroughly deserved Shane Watson, who looks like a number three but gets out like a number seven. For crying out loud man, take a frickin single.........

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | February 19, 2014, 11:39 GMT

    People should consider two things. 1. Marsh n Doolan had a good match. They could easily have poor careers from hereon as many others have. 2. Rogers is 36 and is playing mediocre cricket. He is not a long term member of the 11.

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | February 19, 2014, 11:37 GMT

    With Kallis' retirement, Watson is probably the best all-rounder in the world. A man who can bat 36 and bowl 31 is elite. He also doesn't bowl at the tail due to his fragile body so his average of 31 is against the top order.

  • POSTED BY ravi_hari on | February 19, 2014, 11:29 GMT

    After the performance in the first test, one would be tempted to retain the winning combination. However, what is more important for Aussies is how the pitch looks for the bowlers. If it is a green top and does not need much effort and does not seem to last more than 3 days, I dont think Aus will require Watson. He should be given those 8-9 days to recover fully. If the pitch is on the faltter side, you need a bowler who can share the workload of the quicks. Then Watson is a must no matter who is doing well or not. If we go by Clarke's comments, both sides need 3 pacers only and a spinner to run through some quick overs. Whichmeans workload on them is much less. So, Aus can allow Watson more time to recoupe and give Marsh and Doolan a chance to establish themselves. Rogers will be under the radar, but seeing him in the last 10 tests, will definitely turn it around and will get a big score soon. Very intersting test in the offing. Eager to watch every moment of it.

  • POSTED BY inefekt on | February 19, 2014, 11:08 GMT

    @Ronald_T What are you talking about? Let me give you a piece of valuable advice, read the entire article, clearly understand what is being said and then form your opinion from there. Do not read the first three lines and then jump the gun. Clarke is quoted several times making statements which fully back Watson's INCLUSION in the side, not his exclusion. He says the sooner Watson is back the better it will be for the side. He also states that 'whenever you have a class allrounder you need to make room for him' as well as being very complimentary of Watson's form in the nets. How on Earth you came to the conclusion you did, which is the COMPLETE opposite of what Clarke actually said, is beyond me.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2014, 10:34 GMT

    I think the Aussies are pushing Watto to get fit soon. Yes there is no hurry as such now with the team doing well. In the short term Auusies will be better served with Watto. They can I'll afford to drop him. His is one of the MVP in the side. Having said that Watto too should start contributing with the bat and more specifically the ball. His utility to the team is unquestionable. Come back soon Watto. There will be a place for you soon. Talent like Watto can't be kept back for long

  • POSTED BY Clavers on | February 19, 2014, 10:28 GMT

    @Ragavant, you are right; results count. Let's look at Watson's results.

    In his past six test matches Watson has averaged 49.72 with the bat, with two centuries and two half-centuries. One of his half-centuries, his 83 not out in Melbourne, probably only stopped short of three figures because Australia won the match before he got there.

    By way of comparison, over his past six tests Chris Rogers has averaged 39.00, and Michael Clarke 40.30.

    As for his bowling, Watson has 68 test wickets, including three 5-wicket hauls, at an average of 31.83. That is a better average than Jacques Kallis (32.65). In considering that statistic, bear in mind that Watson is a swing bowler who never gets the use of the new ball.

    The extra bowling option that Watson provides to Clarke has helped create the flexibility that has enabled Clarke to bowl Johnson in short, sharp spells.

  • POSTED BY OneEyedAussie on | February 19, 2014, 10:25 GMT

    So it appears Watson's gold card has finally expired. With every batsmen from the previous test having a higher average and better match:century ratio than Watson (barring Doolan who hasn't scored a century yet) I think it really is a no-brainer to leave Shane out if he can't bowl. That means he will miss the entire tour, and if Marsh/Doolan put up another showing he could be out for quite a while with Australia not playing a test series again until December. The interesting thing for me will be if he actually bothers with domestic FC cricket in order to win his spot back.

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | February 19, 2014, 10:15 GMT

    @ AlSmug: Yes, it is a tricky situation. Watson has been a loyal servant for a long time and there's no denying he is an imposing presence when on song. On the other side of the coin how can they drop Rogers after just one quiet test. He deserves better after his Ashes campaign. Doolan & Marsh (good name for a country music band?), how can we drop either of them after what they did? .. I still say it all depends on whether those two can nail their spots down. If one of them doesn't Watson has a way back in. For this game though, Boof says the bus is full and rightly so imo.

  • POSTED BY ModernUmpiresPlz on | February 19, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    @anton1234 Part of the reason we needed Rogers is because he can play the survival game. Sometimes a test pitch is difficult, and even if you score 2 runs if you face 50 balls you've significantly helped the team. Guys like Warner are great but without stability on the other end they're just a roll of the dice. If we have Warner and Watson opening, 2 guys who like to go hard at the ball, if the conditions are seaming or swinging they're both very likely to get out very quickly. They might not, but they more than likely will. Then we're 2 down for not many and relying on 3-5 to rebuild the innings rather than play any attacking cricket, and if they're under pressure and the opposition is bowling well there's a very real chance of collapse. It's the problem we've had for ages. Same as throwing in Phil Hughes, another guy who likes to swing away. Him and Warner opening together would either be fireworks or a horror show. It's not an ODI for crying out loud.

  • POSTED BY shrek8421 on | February 19, 2014, 9:51 GMT

    Drop Rogers and let Watson open.

  • POSTED BY anton1234 on | February 19, 2014, 9:45 GMT

    I personally think Rogers has done what he was needed for. But now it's time to ditch him as Australia are now playing well. He is 36 and to be honest I don't see him threatening really big scores. He is quite scratchy and almost plays a survival game. I would have Watson or Hughes opening with Warner.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | February 19, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    Watson should concentrate over limited over cricket now as he is an asset in t20s and odis. He will b fit enough to bowl in 3,3 overs spells in odis and 4 over sprint or 2 in t20s with his role at number 3 or opening. Test cricket will always challenge his fitness which ll in the end cut his career short by 2,3 years

  • POSTED BY pat_one_back on | February 19, 2014, 9:41 GMT

    Even if Clarke were still a selector I'm certain he'd only have a bowling fit Watto, rightly so for mine, Watto hasn't batted well enough to back up his desire to be selected as a batsman. If you're not fit for change bowling then how fit are you for a five day game, it's not like he's nursing his shoulder. Clarke it must be said though has no self interest in holding Watson back, you shouldn't read too much into alleged or even open spats between players, winning is far more important to all these guys than being best mates, especially so when you're the captain.

  • POSTED BY Kschneider on | February 19, 2014, 9:38 GMT

    Watson will just have to wait. The side at present is a winning one. dropping any player to fit him in would be wrong. Its no big deal. He will get another chance.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | February 19, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    I like this approach from the selectors. There's no need to change things when you win so emphatically. I think they'd make exceptions for certain players (Clarke, Johnson and a few others) but that'd be because they're a much better unit with them. Also, I'm glad Clarke made those comments about Rogers. He deserves to keep his place because he proved himself over time.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2014, 9:30 GMT

    Watson is a fine player who has proven over a number of years that he cannot stay fit enough to do his job. It's time he stepped aside and let other guys have a chance who can actually be relied upon to stay on the park.

  • POSTED BY 11_Warrior on | February 19, 2014, 9:19 GMT

    Is it end of road for Watto?

  • POSTED BY Aspraso on | February 19, 2014, 9:18 GMT

    Watto in or Watto out is of no consequence -- the Oz team's success revolves entirely around Johnson -- the rest are simply filling gaps.

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | February 19, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    To all these people posting comments against Clarke. Read the article! He is just passing on information from the Australian selectors. Remember Clarke is no longer a Australian Selector.

  • POSTED BY AlSmug on | February 19, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    It is a tricky situation, its public ally known Clarke and Watto are not close, Watto is still a ...potentially awesome player,he has worked so hard at his game and a a big asset for the team if bowling,much improved in that department from the young man we seen 10 yrs ago. Watsons bowling is so, so ,underrated!(it will show up if johnson has an off match) and if he is fit he may be needed big time in the 2nd test, he bowls stump to stump and has the ability to get it to swing a little bit both ways when others struggle to do so ..... the 2nd test is going to be a hard game for Australia so my 11 if watto is fit, it is a tough call,but.... based on experience in sth african conditions (and open for re selection to a man that performed very well in the ashes series), but it would be Warner Watson Doolan Marsh Clarke Smith Haddin Johnson Siddle Harris Lyon 12th man Rogers

  • POSTED BY ModernUmpiresPlz on | February 19, 2014, 8:43 GMT

    @Ronald_T Please don't put Watson in the same class as Katich and Hussey. It's entirely disrespectful to them, they were/are great players. Watson is mediocre at best.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2014, 8:39 GMT

    Looks like Watto is being edged out a little doesn't it? Frankly I see the only way back for him is through injury or failure by Doolan and Marsh, in which case Clarke and Smith will go back up the order and Watto will slot in at 6. I see zero chance of him replacing Rogers or Smith on form alone. If you were to create a Chris Rogers meme it would say "I don't always make runs, but you know they are coming". I don't understand people already getting fidgety about his place in the team, he is one of two guys that have shown they can consistently make centuries for us opening, he needs to be there for as long as he can keep making them. Lets keep picking our best xi regardless of age, potential and all these other ridiculous notions, it's working.

  • POSTED BY ragavant on | February 19, 2014, 8:39 GMT

    Naren - You are like selectors who love the potential and "look" of Watson. But disco bob is right, results count more than potential. Watson is one hamstring away every game, and doesnt have the results after 100 innnigs. He had his time and is nothing more than the golden boy who can't be consistent. Warner,Rodgers, Doolan, Smith, Marsh are proving determination, execution and application are more important than potential. Time fo selectors, and for Naren to move on........Rodgers and Smith might not be pretty but they are getting the job done.and before we start criticising a few off games of Clarke, he has an average of 51 after 100 games, so lets not jump the gun.

  • POSTED BY ModernUmpiresPlz on | February 19, 2014, 8:38 GMT

    @disco_bob Nah I'd say it means dropping one of Marsh or Doolan and shuffling the order up. If Bucky starts to fail regularly maybe they would consider Marsh to open and shuffle the order up? I'm not sure about that one. Either way, if either Marsh or Doolan can provide solid resistance in the top order I'm sure Clarke would be much happier to bat at 4. Probably the only reason he was sticking at 5 was because it was basically the same as playing at 4 for a long period there anyway.

  • POSTED BY smudgeon on | February 19, 2014, 8:32 GMT

    disco_bob, I think Smith also considers himself a batsman more than an allrounder these days. Still, if he concentrated on his bowling and started to get maybe 60% of his deliveries where he should, it might be an exciting prospect to see him bowling on a fourth or fifth day pitch, and a handy relief for the main attack at other times. Personally, I'm happy enough right now just with Smith the batsman!

  • POSTED BY ModernUmpiresPlz on | February 19, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    @dunger.bob If Watson comes back he'll be under enormous pressure. Where he's concerned that's more or less writing on the wall.

  • POSTED BY smudgeon on | February 19, 2014, 8:25 GMT

    He's a conundrum, isn't he? The perfect not-quite-allrounder: not good enough with the bat to nbe a specialist, too fragile/not fit enough to take on a full bowling workload. He has a pretty good record, mind you. But he's not exactly Steve Waugh, who dropped bowling once his back went and became a fine batsman. It's also a tough one for the selectors, because he has an irritating knack for breaking partnerships, as well as giving the bowlers a rest.

  • POSTED BY Ronald_T on | February 19, 2014, 8:25 GMT

    Here we go again, Clarke has destroyed many careers. Symonds, Katich, Mike Hussey to name a few. Now he is after Watson, he tried to influence Micky Arthur the previous coach and dobbed in Watson along with 3 other players for not doing their homework. Clarke is not a team player, after he is finished with Watson the next will be Johnson.

  • POSTED BY anujbhasin56 on | February 19, 2014, 8:24 GMT

    Watson is a great asset for ODI and T20 but his fitness is an issue at times. Give him the option of retiring from test cricket, he may take it and prolong his ODI career. Aussie test side has found a balance and will be able to do fine without Watto.

  • POSTED BY Ozzz.z on | February 19, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    Keep Watto out of the team. He's a liability as being always injured and not making any runs at all. He's an easy wicket walking and only bowling a couple of overs per spell is not an all rounder or that means JP Duminy is an all rounder lol. Watto bye bye please go back I to aus

  • POSTED BY D-Ascendant on | February 19, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    As much as Doolan doesn't look a No. 3, it's pretty clear Watson does not belong in this side. Time for Hughes to return, or for someone like Maddinson etc to be tried out.

  • POSTED BY real_gone_gadd on | February 19, 2014, 8:18 GMT

    Makes sense - I've always thought that Watson is well suited to a number 6 slot.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 19, 2014, 8:10 GMT

    Seeing as Clarke has unequivocally said, Watto is now a no. 6 and that was decided before the series, then I fail to see how he's going to push out Smith Ave 38 and on the up, Watson 36; Smith 34 innings 4 100's, Watson 95 innings 4 hundreds; and Smiths hundreds were when we really needed them. Clarke must have been referring to Watson batting at 6 in the ODI squad.

  • POSTED BY Buggsy on | February 19, 2014, 8:02 GMT

    That's a fair call regarding Watson; his batting alone is nowhere near strong enough to warrant a place. And even then his bowling is only used to rest the others. I hope he never comes back.

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | February 19, 2014, 7:59 GMT

    Secretly, way back in a tiny, dark little part of his mind Watto will be death-riding Doolan and Marsh. If they continue to bat well where can you fit him in? Nowhere, that's where. For the first time in a long, long time he's under real and present danger of losing his spot through something other than injury. If he does get back in he better take it take it by the scruff is all I can say.

    Speaking of Doolan and Marsh, I think they're the obvious targets for the Saffers. Take away their runs and we were struggling just as much as the SA. Both those men had better be prepared for a workout.

  • POSTED BY Naren on | February 19, 2014, 7:58 GMT

    I think I jumped too soon without reading the whole article. The moment you hear that Watson cannot play unless he bowls, I thought that was coming from Clarke. He had said that several times in the past and this time he has backed Watson. On the long run, Australia might benefit from having him instead of Rogers.

  • POSTED BY Naren on | February 19, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    This is just absurd. Why Watson alone can play only as an All rounder? Clarke is always doing this to Watson. I hope the selectors are also not thinking that way. Clarke does not bowl these days and his batting is not going well as well. This is just plain arrogance from Clarke.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 19, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    But..but..I distinctly remember Watson saying in India that he considers himself an opener and not a bowler and that he would inform management when he would deign to bowl. Clarke doesn't care because he knows he's not a selector, so he'll just say what he has to, Lehmann knows that Watto is not the right person for this squad. Now we know that the only way Watson is going to be in the side again is if Smith collapses and frankly I can't see that happening. Plus Smith is a useful bowler and he might get a chance to bowl in tandem with Lyon. But this pitch sounds a lot like Adelaide, known for being flat. MJ bowled well in Adelaide and Donald got a 12 for on this pitch in 1992 so we may see another MJ blitzkrieg. At the moment SA are agonising over how much of a haircut they want to give the deck. Whichever way they go they'll be playing a dead rubber in Cape Town.

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  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 19, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    But..but..I distinctly remember Watson saying in India that he considers himself an opener and not a bowler and that he would inform management when he would deign to bowl. Clarke doesn't care because he knows he's not a selector, so he'll just say what he has to, Lehmann knows that Watto is not the right person for this squad. Now we know that the only way Watson is going to be in the side again is if Smith collapses and frankly I can't see that happening. Plus Smith is a useful bowler and he might get a chance to bowl in tandem with Lyon. But this pitch sounds a lot like Adelaide, known for being flat. MJ bowled well in Adelaide and Donald got a 12 for on this pitch in 1992 so we may see another MJ blitzkrieg. At the moment SA are agonising over how much of a haircut they want to give the deck. Whichever way they go they'll be playing a dead rubber in Cape Town.

  • POSTED BY Naren on | February 19, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    This is just absurd. Why Watson alone can play only as an All rounder? Clarke is always doing this to Watson. I hope the selectors are also not thinking that way. Clarke does not bowl these days and his batting is not going well as well. This is just plain arrogance from Clarke.

  • POSTED BY Naren on | February 19, 2014, 7:58 GMT

    I think I jumped too soon without reading the whole article. The moment you hear that Watson cannot play unless he bowls, I thought that was coming from Clarke. He had said that several times in the past and this time he has backed Watson. On the long run, Australia might benefit from having him instead of Rogers.

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | February 19, 2014, 7:59 GMT

    Secretly, way back in a tiny, dark little part of his mind Watto will be death-riding Doolan and Marsh. If they continue to bat well where can you fit him in? Nowhere, that's where. For the first time in a long, long time he's under real and present danger of losing his spot through something other than injury. If he does get back in he better take it take it by the scruff is all I can say.

    Speaking of Doolan and Marsh, I think they're the obvious targets for the Saffers. Take away their runs and we were struggling just as much as the SA. Both those men had better be prepared for a workout.

  • POSTED BY Buggsy on | February 19, 2014, 8:02 GMT

    That's a fair call regarding Watson; his batting alone is nowhere near strong enough to warrant a place. And even then his bowling is only used to rest the others. I hope he never comes back.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 19, 2014, 8:10 GMT

    Seeing as Clarke has unequivocally said, Watto is now a no. 6 and that was decided before the series, then I fail to see how he's going to push out Smith Ave 38 and on the up, Watson 36; Smith 34 innings 4 100's, Watson 95 innings 4 hundreds; and Smiths hundreds were when we really needed them. Clarke must have been referring to Watson batting at 6 in the ODI squad.

  • POSTED BY real_gone_gadd on | February 19, 2014, 8:18 GMT

    Makes sense - I've always thought that Watson is well suited to a number 6 slot.

  • POSTED BY D-Ascendant on | February 19, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    As much as Doolan doesn't look a No. 3, it's pretty clear Watson does not belong in this side. Time for Hughes to return, or for someone like Maddinson etc to be tried out.

  • POSTED BY Ozzz.z on | February 19, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    Keep Watto out of the team. He's a liability as being always injured and not making any runs at all. He's an easy wicket walking and only bowling a couple of overs per spell is not an all rounder or that means JP Duminy is an all rounder lol. Watto bye bye please go back I to aus

  • POSTED BY anujbhasin56 on | February 19, 2014, 8:24 GMT

    Watson is a great asset for ODI and T20 but his fitness is an issue at times. Give him the option of retiring from test cricket, he may take it and prolong his ODI career. Aussie test side has found a balance and will be able to do fine without Watto.