Australia in South Africa 2013-14 February 26, 2014

Watson accepts all-round role

69

Shane Watson has conceded he does not merit a place in Australia's Test side on his batting alone and is committed to pursuing a more targeted pre-season this winter in a bid to be fitter for the all-round role the captain Michael Clarke and coach Darren Lehmann require of him.

Little more than a year after he toured India as a non-bowling batsman, Watson is now at peace with his definition as an allrounder with a variable commission in the Australian batting order. Though he batted at No. 3 during the home Ashes, Watson is more likely to come in at No. 6 in Cape Town should, as is expected, he be included in the team seeking to win the series decider over South Africa.

"I know where I am at and where I have been with my batting in Test cricket especially, I haven't been as consistent as I would have liked," Watson said. "I don't warrant a spot as a batsman at this point, but I do know I can hold my spot as an allrounder.

"For this upcoming Test I will bowl what is required, hopefully I wont have to bowl much because it will mean the wicket's got a little bit in it and the main quicks have done their job. Once I have a decent break after the IPL I'll be talking to Alex [Kountouris, physio] and the doc [Peter Brukner] about getting a good pre-season in for the first time in quite a while to try and make my body more hardened to be able to bowl the overs I want to bowl."

These words will be music to the ears of Clarke in particular, who engaged in numerous debates with Watson over the course of his captaincy about what the former vice-captain's best role should be. Initially used as an opener following a successful stint at the top during Ricky Ponting's tenure, Watson found himself bowling more as Clarke valued his intelligent seam and swing as much as his destructive but variable batting.

The additional workload duly led to injuries and a shuffling up and down the batting order, something that has continued since Lehmann replaced Mickey Arthur as coach. Watson and Arthur lost respect for each other as time went on, culminating in his suspension from the Mohali Test in 2013. Lehmann and Watson have a demonstrably better relationship, contributing to the younger man's willingness to adapt.

They and Clarke had agreed upon Watson's demotion to No. 6 in the batting order for South Africa, before a calf problem intervened. This episode was the first significant setback for Watson since Brukner's successful use of dry needling to reduce tension in his muscles. It cost Watson his place for the first two Tests of the series, and his change bowling was badly missed in Port Elizabeth as the pace attack flagged on an unresponsive pitch.

"[A day] was what it was going to be initially but I came back a little bit too quick, it was only a couple of days before I was running and trying to bowl again," Watson said. "Initially it was only going to be a couple of days, and especially the techniques that Peter Brukner has got as well, he's got me through a hell of a lot of cricket.

"When something has flared up he's been able to help me to get over that very quickly. This time it didn't work exactly to plan. [But] it also gave me a chance to get my body right, I've had a few niggles through the summer that I was able to play with but this has given me time to get over those. It's worked out better because when I come back I won't have those niggles."

Thus a spectator at St George's Park, Watson watched Dale Steyn's mastery of reverse swing with some interest, having enjoyed success with the old ball himself. Cape Town was the scene of the dramatic 2011 Test, when what was arguably Watson's best Test spell - 5 for 17 - was obscured by Australia's subsequent disintegration for 47.

"It'd be nice if that happened again, and the conditions were the same - but not the back part of that [Test]. I couldn't get a run ... and started the rot when we got bowled out for 40-odd," Watson recalled ruefully. "The wicket has normally got a bit of seam and swing in it for the first couple of days. I know if I'm fit and I get picked that my bowling could be pretty suited to it.

"It's going to be a big challenge for us in this next Test, because they've got more bowling under their belt. I know Dale and a few of their bowlers were a bit underdone going into that first Test match, but they've got some more bowling under their belt now, and they were impressive in that last Test match."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on February 28, 2014, 7:58 GMT

    To all those Hughes supporters, the guy has already been dropped like 3 times! The selectors are being very careful with him, each time in the past he has been found out at international level. Remember that NZ series? Anyway Hughes is still relatively young where as Doolan and Marsh are both 30 so the selectors have done the right thing.

  • Shaggy076 on February 28, 2014, 6:16 GMT

    I'm with foozball - I'm an unashamed supporter of Phil Hughes and can't understand why initially Doolan and Marsh were picked in front of him. But we are now coming to the third test his last first class game was back in December, which really not ideal conditions for his re-entry to the team. Get him back to Australia and get him playing first class cricket. Bring Watson in for Marsh its the only change needed at this point, we need Hughes with some decent match practise before his re-entry.

  • cricketsubh on February 28, 2014, 5:49 GMT

    i donot think australia need allrounder to play in the team to support the fast bowlers 4 bowlers can win u thy test if they are gud inof i think australia need batsmen not allrounders they need solid batsmen who can make big runs if they pick watson who is not a test player and 33 years of age makes team weak in bating if i am a selector i pick hughes for marsh and bating him at no 6 and bird and go with 4 fast bowlers and smith and clarke ,warner can bowl part time spins so my team for 3rd test 1.rogers.2.warner.3.doolan.4.smith.5.clarke.6.hughes.7.haddin.8.jhonson.9.harris.1.bird.11.siddil.

  • 2MikeGattings on February 27, 2014, 18:47 GMT

    Perhaps this time he has finally figured out that he needs to adapt to the demands of the team. But I suspect he's just telling people what they want to hear.

  • ScottStevo on February 27, 2014, 16:49 GMT

    @HansonKoch, you've gotta be kidding me! The Big Show or whatever else he'd like to proclaim himself to be, should consider himself lucky to play in our T20 side let alone ODI side and shouldn't even come close to our test side. He's useless enough in ODIs, In tests, 30 from 20 isn't good enough, hell, it's not good enough in ODIs!

  • ScottStevo on February 27, 2014, 16:44 GMT

    @kensohatter, completely disagree. There's not a chance in hell that Faulkner can replace Watson. I'm sure his 'admission' that he's not up to it as a batsman alone is through gritted teeth. Considering WE selected Watson on his return to the Aus team in 09 as an opener, I'd say we'd selected him as a batsman first and foremost. To that extent, Faulkner isn't worthy to bat anywhere in the top 8 of any test team, regardless of a few slog sessions in ODI's - which, when compared to Bailey's ODI heroics in 2013, don't stack up and yet Bailey was unable to cut it with the bat even when we were hammering Eng. What would make anyone believe that Faulkner would do any better? So, replacing a batsman who can bowl (and was once considered a genuine bowler) with a bowler who most likely isn't up for selection as a bowler as there are others more worthy, who can't and shouldn't bat in the top 8 sounds like complete idiocy to me...

  • foozball on February 27, 2014, 12:23 GMT

    Normally I would back a callup for Hughes, but to what end? For 1 match, at the end of the season? If he fails, he'll be miserable. If he succeeds, he'll spend the off-season wondering if his showing was good enough to cement a follow up.

    Poor Hughes can't win: better not to play, I'm afraid.

    Doolan shown to be woefully out of his depth, despite talent and ability. Needs more time, but not sure this team is strong enough to carry him.

    Marsh... haven't seen enough of him to draw any conclusion, really. PE was not encouraging, but was (unfortunately) all too recognisable

  • rock_kamran on February 27, 2014, 8:53 GMT

    Phil hughes and Shane Watson should come in place of doolan and marsh.

  • SteveSinatra on February 27, 2014, 8:30 GMT

    I must agree that Phil Hughes is overdue for a recall. My team and batting order would be Hughes & Warner to open, Rogers at 3, Clarke at 4, Watson at 5, Smith at 6, Haddin at 7, Johnson at 8, plus whatever bowlers are fit and picked

  • on February 27, 2014, 6:36 GMT

    yes Jamie Dwyer, no Martyns, Slaters, Langers, I Chappells, Harveys, Clarkes etc. No Normal O'Neills. No Doug Walters.

    Funnily, England are following the Australian model (although Carberry was a strange throwback). But they will pick Robson when we wouldn't.

    When I was a kid Silk would have been in the team FOR SURE this season.

    Funny how things change, all because M Hussey was a one-off...

  • on February 28, 2014, 7:58 GMT

    To all those Hughes supporters, the guy has already been dropped like 3 times! The selectors are being very careful with him, each time in the past he has been found out at international level. Remember that NZ series? Anyway Hughes is still relatively young where as Doolan and Marsh are both 30 so the selectors have done the right thing.

  • Shaggy076 on February 28, 2014, 6:16 GMT

    I'm with foozball - I'm an unashamed supporter of Phil Hughes and can't understand why initially Doolan and Marsh were picked in front of him. But we are now coming to the third test his last first class game was back in December, which really not ideal conditions for his re-entry to the team. Get him back to Australia and get him playing first class cricket. Bring Watson in for Marsh its the only change needed at this point, we need Hughes with some decent match practise before his re-entry.

  • cricketsubh on February 28, 2014, 5:49 GMT

    i donot think australia need allrounder to play in the team to support the fast bowlers 4 bowlers can win u thy test if they are gud inof i think australia need batsmen not allrounders they need solid batsmen who can make big runs if they pick watson who is not a test player and 33 years of age makes team weak in bating if i am a selector i pick hughes for marsh and bating him at no 6 and bird and go with 4 fast bowlers and smith and clarke ,warner can bowl part time spins so my team for 3rd test 1.rogers.2.warner.3.doolan.4.smith.5.clarke.6.hughes.7.haddin.8.jhonson.9.harris.1.bird.11.siddil.

  • 2MikeGattings on February 27, 2014, 18:47 GMT

    Perhaps this time he has finally figured out that he needs to adapt to the demands of the team. But I suspect he's just telling people what they want to hear.

  • ScottStevo on February 27, 2014, 16:49 GMT

    @HansonKoch, you've gotta be kidding me! The Big Show or whatever else he'd like to proclaim himself to be, should consider himself lucky to play in our T20 side let alone ODI side and shouldn't even come close to our test side. He's useless enough in ODIs, In tests, 30 from 20 isn't good enough, hell, it's not good enough in ODIs!

  • ScottStevo on February 27, 2014, 16:44 GMT

    @kensohatter, completely disagree. There's not a chance in hell that Faulkner can replace Watson. I'm sure his 'admission' that he's not up to it as a batsman alone is through gritted teeth. Considering WE selected Watson on his return to the Aus team in 09 as an opener, I'd say we'd selected him as a batsman first and foremost. To that extent, Faulkner isn't worthy to bat anywhere in the top 8 of any test team, regardless of a few slog sessions in ODI's - which, when compared to Bailey's ODI heroics in 2013, don't stack up and yet Bailey was unable to cut it with the bat even when we were hammering Eng. What would make anyone believe that Faulkner would do any better? So, replacing a batsman who can bowl (and was once considered a genuine bowler) with a bowler who most likely isn't up for selection as a bowler as there are others more worthy, who can't and shouldn't bat in the top 8 sounds like complete idiocy to me...

  • foozball on February 27, 2014, 12:23 GMT

    Normally I would back a callup for Hughes, but to what end? For 1 match, at the end of the season? If he fails, he'll be miserable. If he succeeds, he'll spend the off-season wondering if his showing was good enough to cement a follow up.

    Poor Hughes can't win: better not to play, I'm afraid.

    Doolan shown to be woefully out of his depth, despite talent and ability. Needs more time, but not sure this team is strong enough to carry him.

    Marsh... haven't seen enough of him to draw any conclusion, really. PE was not encouraging, but was (unfortunately) all too recognisable

  • rock_kamran on February 27, 2014, 8:53 GMT

    Phil hughes and Shane Watson should come in place of doolan and marsh.

  • SteveSinatra on February 27, 2014, 8:30 GMT

    I must agree that Phil Hughes is overdue for a recall. My team and batting order would be Hughes & Warner to open, Rogers at 3, Clarke at 4, Watson at 5, Smith at 6, Haddin at 7, Johnson at 8, plus whatever bowlers are fit and picked

  • on February 27, 2014, 6:36 GMT

    yes Jamie Dwyer, no Martyns, Slaters, Langers, I Chappells, Harveys, Clarkes etc. No Normal O'Neills. No Doug Walters.

    Funnily, England are following the Australian model (although Carberry was a strange throwback). But they will pick Robson when we wouldn't.

    When I was a kid Silk would have been in the team FOR SURE this season.

    Funny how things change, all because M Hussey was a one-off...

  • on February 27, 2014, 6:15 GMT

    The selectors are still getting the batting selections wrong. For too long potential players are getting a gig before the batsmen making runs in the Sheffield shield competition. Why has Michael Klinger never been given a test after all these years of consistently making big scores. It's time to pick the best batsmen in the country. No more potential picks please.

  • RickabyRoost on February 27, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    I'm absolutely baffled that Watson is only now seeking advice regarding a fitness program to prepare his body for more bowling. What was he thinking during previous pre-seasons? Goodness me, his body can barely cope with batting and fielding. He looks like he's been working the weights, aiming for a Matty Hayden type body but has ended up just looking heavy and slow.

    As for who to drop, either Doolan or Marsh could consider themselves unlucky which cancels out their good fortune in being selected (ahead of Hughes) in the first place. I can only assume Boof (and Invars) see something in them that is not reflected in their stats. I too have been seduced by Marsh in the past, watching him nonchalantly slay a quality attack without raising a sweat but such sublime talent is not enough - he must find a way to better survive the early part of his innings.

    I put my trust in Boof (and Invars) to make the right moves.

  • on February 27, 2014, 5:47 GMT

    Watson averages high 30s. and has averaged almost 50 for an extended 18-month period. he has 3 50s and 2 tons in the last 7 tests, and a 43 in Sydney when nobody else could even get bat onto Anderson.

    he will be hopeless at 6 because he is not a strike rotator, and because the ball may reverse or he may face non-spinning spinners.

    this is selection voodoo. he should be at 3 because he is a better 3 than Doolan or Marsh. if he bowls a bit, bonus. if he fails over an extended period, drop him. it's actually really simple.

    Sad to see the "3 bags full, sir" mentality. Clarke says the selectors say so Watson has to agree... even though it's palpable.

    (If watson doesn't deserve a spot "now", how to justify his selection for 6 months when he was out of form and averaging about 20?)

  • Ozcricketwriter on February 27, 2014, 5:42 GMT

    The question is whether we think that Doolan and Marsh circa 1st test is what they will do in the 3rd or whether Doolan and Marsh circa 2nd test is what they will do. If they repeat their 1st test efforts, there is no spot for Watson. If they repeat their 2nd test efforts, then both should be dumped, even if Watson can't bowl. Marsh's twin ducks surely make it difficult to pick him. I'd have Watson in my team any day of the week. Bat him at 4, where he likes to bat. Simple as that.

  • Cricmaths123 on February 27, 2014, 4:55 GMT

    I think that Watson should surely be in the team as he is a good fifth bowling option and he can reduce the workload of the bowlers. He is a good batsman too and he can bat at no. 6 or no.7. I agree that Watson is not consistent and he does have some technical flaws but it can be corrected by having a good batting coach for him. He is also a good fielder and he is really committed to the team. So for the next test Watson will replace Shaun Marsh and J. Bird and J. Pattinson should come in for Harris and Siddle as they both are looking very tired and they both need a break.

  • AlSmug on February 27, 2014, 4:43 GMT

    Shane watson is defiantly 1 of our top 6 batsmen in the country , he has to come in to the team, afterall, its judgment time for Watson he needs to play to his ability these next few seasons otherwise he will not make the cut. His bowling will be crucial if the suffas make another girly slow deck. Sth Africa are scared to play Australia on fast tracks as they are to slow , AB devilliers needs to wipe that smug 24/7 grin off his chin and stop tampering with the ball , Australia are the underdogs in the 3rd match and an upset is more than possible if clarke plays with a bit of respect for the opposition

  • OneEyedAussie on February 27, 2014, 3:47 GMT

    Was the fact that Watson made more runs under Ponting due to something special Ponting has and that Clarke doesn't? I don't think so. I think it has to do with bowlers becoming more successful at targeting Watson's front pad and clever use of DRS. Watson has worked on his technical issue and has recently scored more runs. The question is: is he worth a spot as a batsman alone? Hmn, it really is a 50/50 call given that Marsh and Doolan made good scores one test ago. If he can bowl a few spells however, I think he can edge out either Marsh or Doolan.

  • on February 27, 2014, 2:31 GMT

    drop marsh. 6 ducks in 11 innings doesn't warrant a place in the side. give doolan a few more and if he doesn't perform get hughes in again. Watson is decent. he isn't a number 3 but he could go well around 6 or 7

  • on February 27, 2014, 1:36 GMT

    Agree Watson should slot in at six. I've been unhappy with his contributions in the past,but currently Australia has no other option. Surprised about the lack of support for Hughes' possible inclusion as well. What does the guy have to do? Warrants a spot.

  • mike_b on February 27, 2014, 1:18 GMT

    I agree with Ian Chappell. Clarke should move to no.4. Smith should be batting one higher at no.5. He has shown the knack for scoring first innings 100s (two against England and now one against SA) & needs to be in earlier. Doolan should be given a run at no.3. I am sick & tired of the "feast or famine" career of Marsh. We got lucky with that 1st test innings of his - it'll be a string of failures before he is able to rise again mentally for one or two good digs. Watson is just about our best old ball seam bowler. In the right conditions he can take a number of wickets. Remember last time in Cape Town? So many fans underestimate his bowling & what it offers. As a batsman he continues to bat as an allrounder. He just lacks the singlemindedness of a top 4 batsman who have to be century makers & large innings players. Being a 36 average with the bat & a 31 average with ball (with best figures of 6/33) is a very handy no.6 allrounder in my book! Botham averaged 33 with bat & 28 with ball.

  • wellrounded87 on February 27, 2014, 0:36 GMT

    He is certainly a better bat than Marsh or Doolan. And that is reflected by his test and FC record. Marsh is a one hit wonder, always has been always will be. He does exactly the same thing in shield. Plays one good innings followed by extended periods of garbage.

    He did not do anything in domestic cricket to deserve selection, he was picked for his name's sake. North, Voges, Hughes, Khawaja, Burns, White and Silk all outperformed him by a large margin in this years shield and burns, khawaja and hughes all outdid him last sheild season. I would see Watson and North into the side in place of Hughes and Marsh and Hughes on standby for injury or if/when Rogers finally calls it quits/loses form.

  • MinusZero on February 27, 2014, 0:35 GMT

    @usapsunil. I dont think anyone disputes Marsh is not a test player. If anything, Hughes should have been selected first. But i have to disagree about Watson's ability, great ODI player (no doubt), but he does not have the record of a world class test player. Watson is a no 6 at best. His average in wins is pretty much the same as losses which suggests that he doesnt contribute towards a win in any way...he just plods along...until he gets injured that is.

    I think Clarke is the problem, Ponting learned to manage his injuries and he stayed fit. How many injuries has he had since Clarke took over?

  • MinusZero on February 27, 2014, 0:30 GMT

    The problem Watson has that even as an allrounder, he is expected to contribute. With Faulkner closing rapidly, he can't afford to keep just being average....but then after so many years, maybe average is all he will ever be. I still believe, he isn't a test player.

  • Maroubra_Flyer on February 26, 2014, 23:59 GMT

    @Usapsunil. Yes Watson's average is better than Smith's but not over the past two years. Smith averages at least well over 40. He started his career as an all rounder but has now improved so much he should bat at 3. Those earlier innings when he was dropped have brought his average down. "First there's lies, more lies and damn statistics". Be careful of averages, a batsman can be interpreted in a number of ways - First Innings runs vs second innings runs. Early in the series or late. position in the batting order, opposition, scores by similar batsman in the team, pitches, responsibilities (Clarke's have gone up since he has been captain) , match situation and age.

  • ToneMalone on February 26, 2014, 23:34 GMT

    Watson is one of the most suffocating bowlers in the world, an incredible strokemaker, and utterly dedicated to improving his game and fitness. But he keeps getting injured, keeps getting out, and his presence keeps holding Australia back from finding a long-term solution, such as further developing another allrounder like Faulkner.

    Can't blame the selectors for wanting to keep him in the frame, but I can't see a way he'll be a success story in Tests over the next couple of years, either as a specialist batsman or an allrounder.

  • Batmanian on February 26, 2014, 23:05 GMT

    @usapsunil, you speak the truth. Watson is a better bat. He has serious problems with injuries, but as a bat, when he's functioning, he's a monster. He's harebrained on the field, but that's part of his genius (and why I'd prefer to see him right up the order). As he ages, his abundant giftedness will fade, but so far it's injuries rather than generic degeneration setting him back. He's not as smart a batsman as Kallis, but he's a better one at his best. He's relatively cleverer with the ball than the bat, and I'd be glad to get four overs a session out of him.

  • ShutTheGate on February 26, 2014, 22:42 GMT

    This is great news. Watto coming in at 6 if the top order has done their job and set a platform could be devastating for an opposition attack, we then have the walking innings saver in Haddin @ 7 incase Watto fails. I think he'll excel with the slightly older ball.

    I think that at least 4 of the top 6 batters for Australia will be averaging in the 40's by year end - Warner, Rogers, Clarke and Smith. Hopefully we have a number 3 gaining momentum and establishing their spot also. Our batting stability and consistency is the last piece of the puzzle before we push for number 1.

  • DragonCricketer on February 26, 2014, 21:38 GMT

    I strongly suggest that all Australian players be fitted with zipper side pockets at assist in reverse swing as per du Plessis.

  • Puffin on February 26, 2014, 20:54 GMT

    Well, he's not the ideal model of an allrounder, able to get a place on the strength of batting or bowling alone, but it is a mistake to try to force someone who is not of that class into the role of "proper" allrounder without accepting that it won't always work all that well. But such a player is not always on offer, so a judgement needs to be made with what is available against the benefits of team balance. He clearly has something to offer, at least for now.

    As far as fitness goes, being an allrounder means you're doing strenuous things rather more than most people, so expect a toll to be taken on the body. Usually no 6 is the right place for such a player as batsman, and I think that applies here too.

  • usapsunil on February 26, 2014, 17:00 GMT

    ..you guys really think marsh , doolan and smith are batter batsman than watto ... , i think u guys need to check avg of all , watson also got 1000 run last year , only other AUS got are warner and clark . he is best player Australia has .. only thing they don't know how to manage him .... most of here don't understand ..marsh is one match player .. we may not score more than 10 run in next 10 inning ...u guys can see this record ..he got duck in 6 innings ..common ...can't rate player based on 2 innings ... watto is batter as batsman alone in this team ..or any team ..currently playing ..

  • stormy16 on February 26, 2014, 16:12 GMT

    I am holding to my guns here and say Watson should stop bowling and focus on being a pure batter. Firstly Aus seriously need some muscle in the batting which is up and down, when you consider Marsh was called in and Baily flopped before that and Doolan has played just one test. Secondly Watto's bowling while effective and handy has resulted in too many injuries, which as a result has seen him off the park which in turn has effected his performance. Finally Watto is getting older and presumably injuries will be more of an issue so in my opinion, Watto would serve Aus better buy being a pure batter rather than a handy bowler who breaks down a bit and get some runs - its a here nor there situation which is the last thing Aus need.

  • zoot on February 26, 2014, 15:23 GMT

    He is good as some of the other batsmen.

  • CustomKid on February 26, 2014, 14:35 GMT

    hahaha poor old Watto always copping it. I was told he posted on facebook with the wash out in the warm up games he was quoted as saying well i can now get some practice on how twitter works. There were about 3000 replies telling him don't worry about twitter get in the indoor nets and practice on your effing batting lol.

    CA have finally accepted what the rest of the AU cricketing public have been calling on for years. He's a number 6 at best, maybe even a 7 who can bat a bit and bowl a bit. The problem is his body is a ticking time bomb. I'd love to see him a 6 and hold that role for a number of years.

    He's got 9 ODI 100's V's 3 or 4 test 100's . He's should not bat any higher than 5.

  • RapidCommentsPlz on February 26, 2014, 14:28 GMT

    must time for australia to introduce maxwell. I saw maxwell at that match where he scored MIND FREAKING century against the situation where they where I think, 6,down??and also he australia already have 3 seam have options . Maybe Maxwell can team up with lyon as spin attack. you simly cannot rely on Lyon to take wickets. suggestions?

  • MaruthuDelft on February 26, 2014, 14:27 GMT

    Watson is Watson's enemy. He was not happy because he confronted Clarke. If he was happy he would have continued to perform better irrespective of whether he batted as number 6 or 3 or 1. He performed well early in his career but not outstandingly enough as he thought to confront a player like Clarke or Ponting. It happens to many who overrate their importance and performance. However now he is enlightened. I expect him to perform well hereafter.

  • RapidCommentsPlz on February 26, 2014, 14:26 GMT

    must time for australia to introduce maxwell. I saw maxwell at that match where he scored MIND FREAKING century against the situation where they where I think, 6,down??and also he australia already have 3 seam have options . Maybe Maxwell can team up with lyon as spin attack. you simly cannot rely on Lyon to take wickets. suggestions?

  • Clavers on February 26, 2014, 14:24 GMT

    Watson is averaging 49.72 with the bat over his last six test matches. That is better than Michael Clarke is doing.

  • Barnesy4444 on February 26, 2014, 13:08 GMT

    Watson should bat at 6 whether he can bowl or not. His bowling is a bonus and he shouldn't be overbowled due to injury risk. A few handy overs as a partnership breaker would still be better than a 3 and 4 not up to test standard.

  • NALINWIJ on February 26, 2014, 12:51 GMT

    Watson is potentially the best all formats all rounder but the 3 formats and IPL are more than his body can handle. He can be a match winner in 2015 world cup and Australia will have to use rotational policy in limited over matches and short bowling spells to get the best use of him.

  • crockit on February 26, 2014, 12:32 GMT

    What he means is that when he is bowling he thinks he deserve a place ahead of one of the batters in the team/squad. That rather depends how they are doing. If they all get to the point of being decent test batters then why would you want to get rid of them for a guy near his mid thirties who is inconsistent with bat and for some time have done little more than contain with the ball. Especially when you consider that in Clarke and Smith Aus has two partnership breaking part-timers and in Lyon a guy who can bowl solidly for a good while at one end. Of course right now is still a phase where only four of the top 6 are established -However, if you want the probies (Doolan and Marsh) to come good you need to give them a fair crack

  • fazald on February 26, 2014, 12:25 GMT

    Watson has been in and out of the aussie side very often due to injury and has been on the sidelines for most part of his cricketing career and is very lucky to be still there in the team for the last 10 years or so. It is high time that Watson contributed with either bat or ball in this crucial test. Unless he is really fit to bowl he shouldn't be playing. If he can swing the ball like Dale Steyn it will come in handy. After about the 35th over Steyn was unplayable and no doubt raised many highbrows in the aussie camp as if the ball had suddenly come to life. Untill then the aussies were right on top of the South African bowling attack. Both Siddle and Harris looked very ordinary in the second test and Pattinson should get the nod for a place in the side for the final test match.

  • on February 26, 2014, 12:14 GMT

    Maxwell will surely be worth a place if he is given as many chances as watson & he does merit a place too ... raj999

  • on February 26, 2014, 11:47 GMT

    If he is breaking down without doing any bowling, he might as well bat at 6 and be prepared to bowl, especially in swing-friendly conditions. Otherwise his batting is no worse than Smith's if he bats at 5; Doolan and Marsh have still a lot to prove (one test match don't a cricketer make) so even no 3 is still an open spot, up for grabs.

  • Sir_Francis on February 26, 2014, 11:40 GMT

    The traditional definition of an allrounder is someone who can make the team as a batsman and as a bowler. He acknowledges he isn't a good enough batsman and averages around 2 wickets a game so he's not really good enough as a bowler. Kind of opposite of an allrounder, really.

  • Tumbarumbar on February 26, 2014, 11:29 GMT

    @swuazzie, Regarding Maxwell's batting skills, if you been following the Sheffield Shield you would have noticed that he scored a century on a pitch where Victoria were 6 wickets down for 9 runs and then followed it up with a century in the next game. He has also been taking wickets on a regular basis. I'm not saying he's the finished article but Steve Waugh for example was a relative failure until he ran amok in England and there is little doubt that Maxwell has more natural talent than Waugh. Pick him at six and be patient, the pay off down the road will be spectacular.

  • disco_bob on February 26, 2014, 11:21 GMT

    If Watson was not so prone to breaking down, he'd be a top quality bowling all rounder in the manner of Fred, although not as a strike bowler. It always amazes me that he gets wickets so regularly and keeps it so tight, not sure how he does it. Maybe he doesn't bowl enough to get found out.

  • swauzzie on February 26, 2014, 11:00 GMT

    @HansonKoch Sure he's a freak in the feild, (Big Show) but he's a NO SHOW most of the time with the bat AND ball. Needs to mature outside the international areana to be a test cricketer.

  • Richard_B on February 26, 2014, 10:52 GMT

    Its a scary prospect for the opposition, having him coming in at 6 with Lyons and Johnson following. That is a lot of batting.

    I wish Watson well - I appreciate his honesty and relative humility (compared to say Warner), as well as his skill and willingness to work. I agree with sifter Clarke has done him no favours.

    So good luck to him but not too much. I'd love to see Smith win this series. He is a consummate test cricket captain. he learnt over a long period that the game requires conservatism to achieve consistency. i love that SA batsmen value their wicket so highly and that Smith places such value in not losing, and going for the kill only when you know you're on top, and making captaincy decisions in the context of whole series, not just the session or the game. How people still question his captaincy i don't know. No. 1 for a good spell now and deservedly so. We have short forms of the game to celebrate aggression and flair.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on February 26, 2014, 10:42 GMT

    Geeez, he gets injured a lot. Surely he is now too risky to play in Test cricket because if he breaks down, you are handicapped for days with him.

  • swauzzie on February 26, 2014, 10:20 GMT

    @ozwriter Dude! This is an article about his role in test cricket! "watson is the best batsman in the side and the second best bowler after johnson" what are you smokin? Gimme some it must be awesome! What on earth are you baseing that on? That you like him? Can't be his collective performaces or his stats at all! As a test player, I think the role that they are putting him in now is his correct one. An allrounder - he's equally good in tests with the ball & the bat. Batting at no. 6 & 4th seamer.

  • pat_one_back on February 26, 2014, 10:04 GMT

    Nice insight into what's often described as a personal spat between Clarke & Watto, really no surprise to read it was a professional difference of oppinion on what was best for the team, I guess some fans just like a soap opera. Watto is a more reliable bowler than bat, he'll more than likely strike batting form & consistency through letting go of the pressure he's placed on himself to prove his worth solely as a batsmen.

  • on February 26, 2014, 9:30 GMT

    I think this puts a perspective on the career of the of the game's greatest players. The one and only Jacques Kallis who shouldered the responsibility of batting at 3/4 and being the 3rd change bowler for almost 2 decades without breaking down. And accumulating, along the way, 13000 test runs and 290 test wickets. All hail 'The King'

  • Nagar_Thole_PAKISTAN on February 26, 2014, 9:30 GMT

    No doubt!!Watson is one of the best all rounder that cricket has ever produced.Great striker with perfect mind approach.Daniel thumbs up for a fabulous article.

  • ozwriter on February 26, 2014, 9:26 GMT

    watson is the best batsman in the side and the second best bowler after johnson. I can see how he won the allan border medal two years running.

  • SurlyCynic on February 26, 2014, 9:24 GMT

    I saw the highlights of that test again yesterday, amazing game. Watson was hooping it all over the place to get 5 wickets in 15 balls, I'm sure Warner would have something to say about that as he does when other bowlers swing it.

  • Digimont on February 26, 2014, 9:20 GMT

    I'm really not sure about Watson..I wonder whether this is just him saying whatever he needs to say to stay in the team? I'd rather see the deeds to be frank.

  • on February 26, 2014, 9:02 GMT

    Against my better judgment of Watson - I think he's up there with the greatest and most triumphant 'winners' of all time in sport - he is definitely a better batsman that at least three of the top six Aussies, including Rogers, who I do like. His bowling should be considered a useful bonus.

  • Big_Maxy_Walker on February 26, 2014, 8:53 GMT

    For a guy who is such a good bowler, its really is amazing to see how much he seems to dislike it. If he could stay injury free and bowl as many overs as Clarke wants, Watson would become a much more consistent wicket taker. His record should be over 100 wickets at around 30 or just under. But injuries, pace going up and down, his interest in bowling itself, as well as inconsistent overs numbers have kept him from being as could as Watson could be. Its really a shame. Having played around 50 matches, if Shane had lived up to his potential, he should be averaging low 40s with the bat and just under 30 with the ball. And at least 7 or 8 100s, instead of the 4 he has at the moment.

  • on February 26, 2014, 8:52 GMT

    If Shane Watson has yet another injury after this one, and is likely to miss one or more tests, it will be time to draw a line in the sand and move on from him. He is now 32 and the term potential no longer applies. He should have been so much more of a test cricketer than he has been.

  • sifter132 on February 26, 2014, 8:30 GMT

    "Initially used as an opener following a successful stint at the top during Ricky Ponting's tenure, Watson found himself bowling more as Clarke valued his..." Common misconception. Watson actually bowled slightly more under Ponting (10.34 overs per innings vs 10.02 under Clarke). Averages 2 runs less with ball under Ponting too. That's what galls me most. Watson was able to bowl WELL and often under Ponting, while he still OPENED THE INNINGS! This myth that Watson needs to bat lower to stay fit and bowl well is rubbish. He opened and bowled well between mid 09 and 2010/11 - he missed only 1 of 19 Tests in that time when he was hit in the glute by Shane Bond in an ODI. Then when Clarke took over in mid 2011, someone had the bright idea to move Watto down the order and he hasn't quite been the same since...I'd argue Clarke has HINDERED Watson's career, not helped it.

  • HansonKoch on February 26, 2014, 8:11 GMT

    If he were better in the field 12th man would be his most obvious position. For now I'd leave him at 13th.

    The Big Show's in great form right now, plus he's a freak in the field. A much better choice for an all-rounder.

  • on February 26, 2014, 8:11 GMT

    I think Watson has not been utilized properly by the Aussie management. He was one of their most consistent batsman when he opened under Ponting (admittedly he was not scoring big and kept on getting out scoring attractive 50's), but a lot of pressure has been put on him to bowl. This has led to insecurity which has affected his performances. He is a huge asset as a bowler no doubt about it but as a batsman also he has so much to give. People might say that has recent test centuries have come under no pressure situations but test century is a test century and all those runs are valuable. Of course it will be good to see him getting more runs consistently. Batting at 6 where can express himself more and bowling a few overs each match might do the trick for Watson to have a longer and consistent career as a test batsman. Wish him luck..

  • on February 26, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    Watson is alot like Johnson, there is obvious talent but mentally they are so brittle. When things go well the look like world beaters but when their backs are against the wall the disappear. Both their careers have been proof of that. That's why you just dit back and wait and their next slump comes. Faulkner would become alot better then Watson I feel just because he displayes alot toughness

  • on February 26, 2014, 7:58 GMT

    This is good news, watson regardless of what people say is a very valuable test cricketer for our team. The only reason he cops so much flack is because he wants to bat at 3 4 or 5 and not bowl that much etc. A player like him needs to either open (where 37 average is acceptable whilst not being great) or bat 6 and bowl lots which would be more ideal giving his bowling talents (particularly with MJ being the prime wicket taker, wattos good economy gives a reliable option to give MJ a rest). This obviously provides a much more balanced team, which should do much better than last test, particularly if the wicket is slower, id say if it was fast and bouncy then just Mj would be enough to win anyway haha.

    Ideal 11: Rogers Warner Doolan/marsh Smith (time for him to step up as i think hes our best bat just about now) Clarke Watson Haddin MJ Harris/sids/patto harris/sids/patto lyon

  • kensohatter on February 26, 2014, 7:53 GMT

    I really like Lehmans stance on Shane Watson. Watson is an all rounder or the term I prefer is bits and pieces player. I say this because Watson should not make the Australian team as a specialist bat or bowler. What he does provide is a little of both. If Lehman can get 1 wicket and 40runs from him every inning he would take it. Its in that role that he adds value to the Australian side. As a batsman he continues to have problems converting starts, rotating strike and using the review system. His bowling can be quite economical and in this Australian team useful as they lack part time options especially with Marsh, Doolan and Hughes coming into the squad. I think he is very lucky Faulkner is injured otherwise they may very well have put an end to this decade long Shane Watson experiment.

  • Big-Dog on February 26, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    Watsons batting is as brittle as his body. Australia should retire him for good.

  • on February 26, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    Watson just get that front pad out of the way otherwise its going to be 2 x LBW decisions against you, for not plenty.

  • cccrider on February 26, 2014, 7:11 GMT

    Best thing for Watto to do would be to lose 10 kilograms. On Warner, he is perfectly justified to raise concerns with SA and ball tampering. They have form, most recently just 6 months ago, with Faf.

  • rezmata on February 26, 2014, 7:08 GMT

    CA just ruined a genuine world class all-rounder. They dumped Katich and when they didnt have experience top of the order they made Watson an opener without any credentials. I just hope its not too late now for the world to experience the same kind of entertainment Flintoff provided for England from Watto.

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  • rezmata on February 26, 2014, 7:08 GMT

    CA just ruined a genuine world class all-rounder. They dumped Katich and when they didnt have experience top of the order they made Watson an opener without any credentials. I just hope its not too late now for the world to experience the same kind of entertainment Flintoff provided for England from Watto.

  • cccrider on February 26, 2014, 7:11 GMT

    Best thing for Watto to do would be to lose 10 kilograms. On Warner, he is perfectly justified to raise concerns with SA and ball tampering. They have form, most recently just 6 months ago, with Faf.

  • on February 26, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    Watson just get that front pad out of the way otherwise its going to be 2 x LBW decisions against you, for not plenty.

  • Big-Dog on February 26, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    Watsons batting is as brittle as his body. Australia should retire him for good.

  • kensohatter on February 26, 2014, 7:53 GMT

    I really like Lehmans stance on Shane Watson. Watson is an all rounder or the term I prefer is bits and pieces player. I say this because Watson should not make the Australian team as a specialist bat or bowler. What he does provide is a little of both. If Lehman can get 1 wicket and 40runs from him every inning he would take it. Its in that role that he adds value to the Australian side. As a batsman he continues to have problems converting starts, rotating strike and using the review system. His bowling can be quite economical and in this Australian team useful as they lack part time options especially with Marsh, Doolan and Hughes coming into the squad. I think he is very lucky Faulkner is injured otherwise they may very well have put an end to this decade long Shane Watson experiment.

  • on February 26, 2014, 7:58 GMT

    This is good news, watson regardless of what people say is a very valuable test cricketer for our team. The only reason he cops so much flack is because he wants to bat at 3 4 or 5 and not bowl that much etc. A player like him needs to either open (where 37 average is acceptable whilst not being great) or bat 6 and bowl lots which would be more ideal giving his bowling talents (particularly with MJ being the prime wicket taker, wattos good economy gives a reliable option to give MJ a rest). This obviously provides a much more balanced team, which should do much better than last test, particularly if the wicket is slower, id say if it was fast and bouncy then just Mj would be enough to win anyway haha.

    Ideal 11: Rogers Warner Doolan/marsh Smith (time for him to step up as i think hes our best bat just about now) Clarke Watson Haddin MJ Harris/sids/patto harris/sids/patto lyon

  • on February 26, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    Watson is alot like Johnson, there is obvious talent but mentally they are so brittle. When things go well the look like world beaters but when their backs are against the wall the disappear. Both their careers have been proof of that. That's why you just dit back and wait and their next slump comes. Faulkner would become alot better then Watson I feel just because he displayes alot toughness

  • on February 26, 2014, 8:11 GMT

    I think Watson has not been utilized properly by the Aussie management. He was one of their most consistent batsman when he opened under Ponting (admittedly he was not scoring big and kept on getting out scoring attractive 50's), but a lot of pressure has been put on him to bowl. This has led to insecurity which has affected his performances. He is a huge asset as a bowler no doubt about it but as a batsman also he has so much to give. People might say that has recent test centuries have come under no pressure situations but test century is a test century and all those runs are valuable. Of course it will be good to see him getting more runs consistently. Batting at 6 where can express himself more and bowling a few overs each match might do the trick for Watson to have a longer and consistent career as a test batsman. Wish him luck..

  • HansonKoch on February 26, 2014, 8:11 GMT

    If he were better in the field 12th man would be his most obvious position. For now I'd leave him at 13th.

    The Big Show's in great form right now, plus he's a freak in the field. A much better choice for an all-rounder.

  • sifter132 on February 26, 2014, 8:30 GMT

    "Initially used as an opener following a successful stint at the top during Ricky Ponting's tenure, Watson found himself bowling more as Clarke valued his..." Common misconception. Watson actually bowled slightly more under Ponting (10.34 overs per innings vs 10.02 under Clarke). Averages 2 runs less with ball under Ponting too. That's what galls me most. Watson was able to bowl WELL and often under Ponting, while he still OPENED THE INNINGS! This myth that Watson needs to bat lower to stay fit and bowl well is rubbish. He opened and bowled well between mid 09 and 2010/11 - he missed only 1 of 19 Tests in that time when he was hit in the glute by Shane Bond in an ODI. Then when Clarke took over in mid 2011, someone had the bright idea to move Watto down the order and he hasn't quite been the same since...I'd argue Clarke has HINDERED Watson's career, not helped it.