Australia in Sri Lanka 2011 September 13, 2011

Opening my primary job - Watson


Shane Watson has reiterated his desire to stay at the top of the order for Australia but said that if he has to bowl more overs for the team he may need to be played in a different role.

Watson has managed a highest score of just 36 during Australia's ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka, but as a bowler has had a significant influence. He took three middle-order wickets in the first innings in Galle, which tilted the match decisively towards Australia, then offered excellent support to Trent Copeland and Ryan Harris as they sought to spoil the hosts' efforts to save the Pallekele Test on the final day. This takes a toll on Watson's batting, but he said he must find a way to better balance the two roles.

"It's easy to say that [my bowling is affecting my batting], but really in the end I'm in the team as an opening batsman; my primary job is to score runs and I've just got to get better at it," Watson said. "There's no doubt being an allrounder and bowling does take a lot more out of you than guys who just bat, but that's part of being an allrounder.

"I really do enjoy opening the batting and taking on the quicks with the new ball, but it does depend on what my role is. If the new dynamics of the team require me to bowl more, as I did in this [the Pallekele] Test match, then my role may change and I'm happy to bat anywhere to make sure we've got the best people in the right positions. I feel my body is really coping and handling the overs a lot better as well."

Watson enters the final Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo without the runs he believes his batting touch has warranted. In something of a microcosm of Watson's Test batting career, first-innings scores of 22 and 36 gave Australia a start, but were not the match-shaping tallies he and the team crave.

A career ledger of two Test centuries, against 15 half-centuries, rather sums up his present state of frustration, despite spending plenty of time in this year's Indian Premier League at the feet of Rahul Dravid, who he quizzed in some detail about the art of concentration.

"It's been disappointing," Watson said of his batting performances in Sri Lanka. "After not playing Test cricket over the last seven or eight months I've been really excited about getting into the Test cricket side of things, the batting especially. I'm hitting the ball alright. Hopefully I can turn that into a big score.

"That's the most frustrating thing, not being able to capitalise when I'm batting really well. I know within the team I'm a more senior player now so it is my job as a top-order batsman to be able to score big runs, and unfortunately I haven't been able to do that consistently. It's something I've got to get better at."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on September 16, 2011, 2:55 GMT

    @Ben Liya - its been a pretty good public relation tour! The series itself has been free of any undue nastiness, (even the Mahela/Pup catch incident was fairly minor). Hopefully it will continue thru the 3rd Test.

  • Dummy4 on September 15, 2011, 3:57 GMT

    Hussey had a lot of success as an opener, and I don't know why they put him down the order. I think Watson should remain at the top though, as he has all the makings of a top-class opening batsman. He has been one of the bright lights for Australia, so why mess things up just because he had one bad test match and a score of 36?

  • Christopher on September 15, 2011, 1:07 GMT

    Watson is a champion.His weakness,not one i expect to be addressed,is his muscular physique burning energy more quickly than a natural physique,fatiguing him rapidly.It makes concentrating problematic.Physical and mental fatigue are intimately intertwined.I deem his duration of concentration to be between 90 and 120 minutes,when rested.Id have a dietician looking at supplements and monitor blood sugar.Rates of fatigue are different for each metabolism.Kallis and Flintoff are natuarally big men,producing strength from natural size,which uses less energy than trained muscle.I understand he has modified his training,to reduce muscle mass,which plagued him with hamstring and back problems,but im confident that this is the source of his concentration issues.The conundrum is that Watson is a complete batsman.The downside of Watson as opener,is that he cant run quickly and turn over the strike to help his partner.Its possibly why he bats the way he does.I think hes an ideal number 5 or 6.

  • Vinay on September 15, 2011, 0:49 GMT

    Watson's test batting is well under his ODI batting which means he will score far better at no 6 as well as bowl more overs. With Shaun Marsh's century, it should be obvious to MC to try that - Marsh & Hughes to open, Ponting at no 3, Watto at no 6 and Khwaja making way for now - if Hughes continues to fail, there is always Katich or trying Hussey or Khwaja as an opener.

  • Dummy4 on September 14, 2011, 22:40 GMT

    Aussie players show their generosity in sri Lanka.

  • John on September 14, 2011, 21:41 GMT

    @HatsforBats: the difference is, of course, that Anderson's getting better and Johnson's getting worse. Over the last 15 months, since the start of the English summer in 2010, Johnson has played 10 tests and got 30 wickets at 36. Anderson has played 17 tests and got 84 wickets at 22. So Johnson's wickets are costing him 14 more each and Anderson's getting 5 per game as opposed to Johnson's 3. Head-to-head in the Ashes series- Anderson 24 wickets at 26, Johnson 15 wickets at 36. Of course, Johnson had to bowl against England, while Anderson only had to bowl against Australia. I'm looking forward to England playing a team in form, too, or at least one that was in form before they played England. Now let's see- India, #1 ranked test side, beat Australia 2-0, tied with SA in SA 1-1, won the World Cup and beat WI in WI 1-0. If they hadn't played England, wouldn't you have said they were in form?

  • Dummy4 on September 14, 2011, 17:44 GMT

    Like Gilly, watson should bat at #6 / #7 in tests... Watson can bat without any pressure and he can play his natural (ODI) game, when the team needs to score some quick runs...

  • Dummy4 on September 14, 2011, 13:03 GMT

    When Ponting comes back I would like Marsh to open and Khwaja be dropped.Watson should be pushed down to no.6 and bowl more overs given that Harris is injury-prone,Johnson somewhat unpredictable and Copeland and Lyon are pretty new to International Cricket.That is what is good for him as well as the team.For limited overs Tim Paine and Marsh could open the batting with Watson and Cameron White at 6 and 7.

  • Dummy4 on September 14, 2011, 12:07 GMT

    you know what....let him open, when Ponting and Hussy retire(hopefully in a good note)then marsh and Uzi can come in to side full time, i still believe the Warner will be in the team, my bet that Warner will score a massive amount of runs this season for NSW that it will be near impossible to not play him for Australia, he is evolving into the perfect batsmen in all levels, puts your money on it!!!!

  • Dummy4 on September 14, 2011, 11:59 GMT

    i like Watson as an opener but i like his bowling just as much, to have both discipline and and be both great at each is fantastic, but!!!! i would like Marsh and Uzi to be both in the team, Watson could make a great floating top order batsmen, if the top order is struggling like 3 for 30 then put him in to build an innings, and if the top order does well then put him in if we need quick runs and bat like in the shorter version, his bowling is needed very much to keep it tight and take wickets.

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