Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide December 3, 2013

Watson takes greater responsibility

35

Australia's No. 3 batsman Shane Watson freely admits he will need to carry a far greater burden in Adelaide, both as a top-order run-maker and also a change bowler, on what is shaping to be an exceedingly dry and unhelpful surface for the fast men.

Watson struggled to bat with his usual presence in Brisbane, an understandable problem for a batsman who had not made a first-class appearance since the fifth Test of the previous Ashes series in England. But he said there was now no excuse for him to be a peripheral player as the hosts attempt to take a stranglehold on the series by going 2-0 up in as many matches.

"Going into the Test match in Brisbane, I had a week or so to be able to build up my Test-match batting and my mental capacity, so that was certainly my biggest challenge," he said. "I'm going to be in a better place now. I wasn't able to concentrate for a long enough period of time to be able to bat what I need to in a Test match. It was unfortunate that I wasn't able to adapt my game quick enough with not playing any four-day cricket or domestic cricket in the lead-up. That's part of being in international cricket. You have to adapt as quickly as you can, so hopefully I can do that in this Test match straight away."

The other concern for Watson in Brisbane surrounded his recovery from a hamstring strain that had left his status as a bowler in doubt. Ultimately the telling spells of Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Nathan Lyon allowed Watson the luxury of bowling only two overs for the match, but he agreed far more would be expected on Adelaide's drop-in pitch, which the ground staff have dried noticeably to attempt to recreate the ground's traditional five-day deterioration.

"It's going to be a really important part - the amount of bowling I can do to help out our quicks," Watson said. "If it's what we think it's going to be, the wicket will be flat and the bowlers will potentially have to bowl many more overs compared to Brisbane to bowl the English out. That's a really important role, especially with back-to-back Test matches and how important it is for our quicks to be able to get through this Test, bowl well and pull up well.

"We certainly know we've got the bowlers to be able to exploit that Perth wicket, so I know how important it is for me to pick up the slack. The bowlers certainly looked after me physically in the first Test, they bowled beautifully well and I wasn't really called on to bowl, but I know this is my turn to be able to put my hand up and bowl the overs to look after those guys as well."

Australia find themselves in an unfamiliar perch, leading an Ashes series for the first time since 2006. Add to this the fact that they have followed each of their past two Test match wins over England in 2009 and 2010 with immediate defeat int he next match, and Watson acknowledged the challenge of keeping the team level-headed and focused on the task at hand.

"It is a different situation to be in, there's no doubt," Watson said. "The last three series we've played in, whether it's been England holding on for a draw or winning the first Test, certainly we come in at a different perspective going into the second game. But we know how important it's going to be to start really well and keep the momentum going. We know how quickly it can change and how quickly the series can change if we don't give it everything we've got and be totally switched on from ball one.

"It's certainly a nice position to be in compared to the last three series I've been involved in but I know how quickly it can change. The English don't like losing, they haven't lost very often, especially to us, over the last three series so they certainly will be coming together to go whatever they can to get back into the series."

Pivotal to Australia's pursuit of another win will be the fitness of Michael Clarke, and Watson said the captain would be fine to train on match eve after resting a rolled ankle two days out from the Test. "It was more precautionary today," he said. "Michael batted beautifully in the first Test, so his preparation was always going to be very good anyway. I know the medical staff is very confident that it was just giving him a break today, and he'll be training flat out tomorrow ready to go for the Test."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • bren19 on December 4, 2013, 22:54 GMT

    Blah, Blah Watson. talk it up later in the season when the ODI's start. that is a form of the game that you can deliver in. Perhaps Australia might consider playing their best batsman at no 3 and putting the all-rounder with the average of 35 at maybe no 7 or 8. Watson has this status of being indispensable to the team - but what has he done to earn it?

  • on December 4, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    Shut the Gate, there's no such position as the allrounder. Having Faulkner in strengthens the bowling (but not by much) but weakens the batting. If we want stronger bowling, there are much better bowling options than Faulkner. If we want better batsman than Watsin, there may be some, but I'd be getting rid of Rogers and Bailey before I got rid of watson.

    he certainly attracts more hate than anyone in my 45 years of watching. fascinating stuff.

  • popcorn on December 4, 2013, 4:28 GMT

    I am delighted that Australia has not amed an unchanged side. It dies wonders for the morale of batsmen and bowlers who have had less success, conveys a message,"We have confidence in you. We have faith in uour abilities. YWe will persevere with you. You will not be a " One Test Wonder".This will make Rogers, Watson, Smith and Bailey be even more determined to perform. Watson's realization that he needs to steo uo and take more responsibility is wonderful to hear.Steve Waugh scored his first Test century after 19 innings.That's faith for you.

  • David_Bofinger on December 4, 2013, 2:05 GMT

    Watson had a great record as an opener, but somehow never gets to play there, and is rubbish anywhere else. (OK, could just be luck.)

  • disco_bob on December 4, 2013, 0:12 GMT

    There was not pressure on Watto in Brisbane and he was bailed out with a dismal batting performance. If he is unable to perform in the Adelaide Test it is time to face up to the fact that he will never live up to his potential in Test cricket and he should not be in the team.

  • Barnesy4444 on December 4, 2013, 0:06 GMT

    Watson is always in a better place than he was before.

    All he has done with the bat in 3 years is one good century. He should be averaging at least 45, 36 is way below par.

    There is an in-form Hughes averaging over 60 in the Shield scoring centuries at will.

  • MinusZero on December 3, 2013, 23:53 GMT

    He is only now realising he needs to do more? He has needed to for the last three years. I wouldn't select him at all but if necessary, he has till the third test. If he does nothing by then Faulkner should come in.

  • Buggsy on December 3, 2013, 23:47 GMT

    More talk from Watson. More failures coming up. You're not a Test player Watto, never have been, never will be. Go back to T20.

  • on December 3, 2013, 23:03 GMT

    Walk the talk - you score heavily in IPL but far from what needs to be done to Aussie Cricket. You are no good as a number 3 - you may have scored centuries at number 3 but far below what Punter did to Aussies Cricket at No : 3.

  • blink182alex on December 3, 2013, 22:42 GMT

    He needs to bat with a better tempo in this 2nd test. He just got stuck and didn't rotate the strike at all in Brisbane. He usually faces a lot of dot balls anyway but hits boundaries to keep the scoreboard ticking but he did neither in the last game.

    That 2nd innings should of been tailor made for him to come in and dominate but he went nowhere. Hopefully as he sat down and watched Clarke score that century as a demonstration on how to bat.

  • bren19 on December 4, 2013, 22:54 GMT

    Blah, Blah Watson. talk it up later in the season when the ODI's start. that is a form of the game that you can deliver in. Perhaps Australia might consider playing their best batsman at no 3 and putting the all-rounder with the average of 35 at maybe no 7 or 8. Watson has this status of being indispensable to the team - but what has he done to earn it?

  • on December 4, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    Shut the Gate, there's no such position as the allrounder. Having Faulkner in strengthens the bowling (but not by much) but weakens the batting. If we want stronger bowling, there are much better bowling options than Faulkner. If we want better batsman than Watsin, there may be some, but I'd be getting rid of Rogers and Bailey before I got rid of watson.

    he certainly attracts more hate than anyone in my 45 years of watching. fascinating stuff.

  • popcorn on December 4, 2013, 4:28 GMT

    I am delighted that Australia has not amed an unchanged side. It dies wonders for the morale of batsmen and bowlers who have had less success, conveys a message,"We have confidence in you. We have faith in uour abilities. YWe will persevere with you. You will not be a " One Test Wonder".This will make Rogers, Watson, Smith and Bailey be even more determined to perform. Watson's realization that he needs to steo uo and take more responsibility is wonderful to hear.Steve Waugh scored his first Test century after 19 innings.That's faith for you.

  • David_Bofinger on December 4, 2013, 2:05 GMT

    Watson had a great record as an opener, but somehow never gets to play there, and is rubbish anywhere else. (OK, could just be luck.)

  • disco_bob on December 4, 2013, 0:12 GMT

    There was not pressure on Watto in Brisbane and he was bailed out with a dismal batting performance. If he is unable to perform in the Adelaide Test it is time to face up to the fact that he will never live up to his potential in Test cricket and he should not be in the team.

  • Barnesy4444 on December 4, 2013, 0:06 GMT

    Watson is always in a better place than he was before.

    All he has done with the bat in 3 years is one good century. He should be averaging at least 45, 36 is way below par.

    There is an in-form Hughes averaging over 60 in the Shield scoring centuries at will.

  • MinusZero on December 3, 2013, 23:53 GMT

    He is only now realising he needs to do more? He has needed to for the last three years. I wouldn't select him at all but if necessary, he has till the third test. If he does nothing by then Faulkner should come in.

  • Buggsy on December 3, 2013, 23:47 GMT

    More talk from Watson. More failures coming up. You're not a Test player Watto, never have been, never will be. Go back to T20.

  • on December 3, 2013, 23:03 GMT

    Walk the talk - you score heavily in IPL but far from what needs to be done to Aussie Cricket. You are no good as a number 3 - you may have scored centuries at number 3 but far below what Punter did to Aussies Cricket at No : 3.

  • blink182alex on December 3, 2013, 22:42 GMT

    He needs to bat with a better tempo in this 2nd test. He just got stuck and didn't rotate the strike at all in Brisbane. He usually faces a lot of dot balls anyway but hits boundaries to keep the scoreboard ticking but he did neither in the last game.

    That 2nd innings should of been tailor made for him to come in and dominate but he went nowhere. Hopefully as he sat down and watched Clarke score that century as a demonstration on how to bat.

  • OneEyedAussie on December 3, 2013, 22:16 GMT

    It's hardly a surprise Watson can't concentrate - he has barely participated in any domestic FC cricket over the past 3-4 years. Always seems to be injured leading into the Australian summer (conveniently). He spends most of his time playing short form cricket for Australia and foreign t20 franchises. He doesn't spend much time playing the kind of cricket that demands innings of sustained concentration.

  • ShutTheGate on December 3, 2013, 22:11 GMT

    I think that this series is crucial for Watson's test career. He's always been an amazing limited overs player and has potential to shine in the long form of the game. But I've always thought that he hasn't fulfilled his potential. If he doesn't step up in this series then I think it's time to let him go from the test side.

    We have Doolan, Hughes and Khwaja who could be longer term possibilities for the Australian top order and perhaps the South African tour would be a good opportunity to make this change. With Watson out of the team it would make sense to me to have Faulkner as the all rounder - although not batting at number 3!

    However saying that, if Watson does finally deliver then I can't see us loosing the series. Especially with Warner finding consistency and the form of our bowlers.

  • shopcraft on December 3, 2013, 19:29 GMT

    Watson had better step up, put his hand up and just shut up and play some wuality international cricket. To me he's no more that an overrated ODI player that happened to get a lucky break when there was a transition in the Aussie team. He averages around 35 with the bat, occassionally takes a wicket that is vital at times, but is often too injured to make an impact as a bowler. 25 LBWs from 87 innings shows a lack of discipline and he throws his wicket away too easily going for big cover drives or pull shots when Australia needs a number 3 to bat for hours or even a day. I don't know what the solution is to our number 3 problem, but it's time for Watto to be dropped and a young bloke to be given a chance.

  • CodandChips on December 3, 2013, 17:21 GMT

    IPL has overrated Watson. But he is a useful cricketer, not a world beater. He bowls steadily and bats a bit. Surely Chris Woakes could do a simliar job for us? Woakes is a better batsman than Watson in the long form and would bat at 6. Surely he could be a long-term answer to our no6 problem?

  • Shrikar_11 on December 3, 2013, 15:56 GMT

    Its been Watson's turn to put his hand up for a while, but he's got to walk the talk

  • on December 3, 2013, 14:49 GMT

    Australia are the favorites for this Ashes.

  • milepost on December 3, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    @Clunge, dig the name, has a nice ring to it. I think it is about time Watto gave us a performance, though I'd settle for consistency. Why would we drop Rogers? It's telling for England that our test reserves are absolutely piling on the runs and taking loads of wickets but Rogers deserves his place.

  • Matt. on December 3, 2013, 13:48 GMT

    Wo serious deja vu right now! Don't worry Shane, just score a century once the series is over with then you'll retain your place for the next series

  • on December 3, 2013, 13:38 GMT

    best solution make him to open n drop rogers n bring philip hughes who is now in gr8 form in shield field .. It is better to utilize a players ability when they r in form...

  • on December 3, 2013, 13:33 GMT

    I don't know, I have a good feeling that Watto will score big in adelaide (a half century at least). Hopefully he could follow that up with a couple of wickets.

    Team for Adelaide: Rogers, Warner, Watson, Clarke, Smith, Haddin, Faulkner, Johnson, Siddle, Harris, Lyon. XII: Bailey

  • on December 3, 2013, 13:05 GMT

    Blah, Blah, Blah, heard it all before Shane.

  • on December 3, 2013, 12:56 GMT

    Shane WATSON he is a quality all rounder nd quality batsman as well,he will stay @ no 3 position,no doubt abt that...#nd ideal position for him also...!

  • CricketChat on December 3, 2013, 12:45 GMT

    Rogers and Watson,m if they don't contribute in the next test, should be benched. They have stayed on promises a bit too long in the recent past. It's always going to be a gamble with Watson's bowling given his proclivity to breakdown quite often.

  • on December 3, 2013, 11:21 GMT

    Good teams have good batsman coming at no 3. Aus had Ponting, India had Dravid, SA- Kallis etc etc.. Watson is just not a good enough no 3 batsman. IMO Clarke should bat at no 3. Watson should bat at 5/6. My team for the Adelaide test will be: Warner Rogers Clarke Smith Watson Haddin Faulkner Johnson Siddle Harris and Lyon.

  • Front-Foot-Clunge on December 3, 2013, 11:13 GMT

    Haha - excellent call Meety! If we can ban Watto from talking before the match, and Warner from talking, well, AT ALL, we might have ourselves a formidable top order.

  • BalakumarM on December 3, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    better watto to open the innings with his natural aggressive batting style in all the formats

  • Biggus on December 3, 2013, 10:36 GMT

    Rather he hadn't predicted that and had simply made a personal vow to himself.

  • siddhartha87 on December 3, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    He will score one or two big hundreds in the series eventually.Nothing to worry about Watto

  • Meety on December 3, 2013, 10:20 GMT

    Man I wish Watto the best, but he almost never delivers when he does an interview. Wish he would actually avoid interviews before a match - just do post match interviews!

  • on December 3, 2013, 10:19 GMT

    same old story heard this a million times from Watson. He better follow through this time with the bat at least.

  • sando31 on December 3, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    @handyandy-Watson isn't talking the talk this time. He's merely stating the fact that he has to bowl much more overs due to the flat Adelaide wicket and he's absolutely right and is willing to do it

  • Green_and_Gold on December 3, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    Just get the runs mate - thats what we Aussies want to see. We hope that the openers will get off to a good start and we need our #3 to take that forward and be a solid player.

  • austentayshus on December 3, 2013, 8:40 GMT

    His time has never turned up how many opportunities does he need he is Australia's Chris Gayle (T20 and occasionaly ODI ) .. Faulkner in bat at 7 hadds at 6 bailey at 3

  • Clavers on December 3, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    Shane Watson will make history in this test match.

  • handyandy on December 3, 2013, 8:23 GMT

    Watson always talks the talk but hardly ever walks the walk.

    Lets hope that he canl actually deliver the goods in this test.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • handyandy on December 3, 2013, 8:23 GMT

    Watson always talks the talk but hardly ever walks the walk.

    Lets hope that he canl actually deliver the goods in this test.

  • Clavers on December 3, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    Shane Watson will make history in this test match.

  • austentayshus on December 3, 2013, 8:40 GMT

    His time has never turned up how many opportunities does he need he is Australia's Chris Gayle (T20 and occasionaly ODI ) .. Faulkner in bat at 7 hadds at 6 bailey at 3

  • Green_and_Gold on December 3, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    Just get the runs mate - thats what we Aussies want to see. We hope that the openers will get off to a good start and we need our #3 to take that forward and be a solid player.

  • sando31 on December 3, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    @handyandy-Watson isn't talking the talk this time. He's merely stating the fact that he has to bowl much more overs due to the flat Adelaide wicket and he's absolutely right and is willing to do it

  • on December 3, 2013, 10:19 GMT

    same old story heard this a million times from Watson. He better follow through this time with the bat at least.

  • Meety on December 3, 2013, 10:20 GMT

    Man I wish Watto the best, but he almost never delivers when he does an interview. Wish he would actually avoid interviews before a match - just do post match interviews!

  • siddhartha87 on December 3, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    He will score one or two big hundreds in the series eventually.Nothing to worry about Watto

  • Biggus on December 3, 2013, 10:36 GMT

    Rather he hadn't predicted that and had simply made a personal vow to himself.

  • BalakumarM on December 3, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    better watto to open the innings with his natural aggressive batting style in all the formats