Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide

Watson takes greater responsibility

Daniel Brettig in Adelaide

December 3, 2013

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Shane Watson pulled to mid-on, Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 3rd day, November 23, 2013
Shane Watson believes he is in a better place now than in the lead-up to the first Test © Getty Images
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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

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Posted by 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?

Posted by   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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.)

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by   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.

Posted by 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.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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