The Ashes 2013 May 23, 2013

Taylor calls for Watson to be Ashes opener

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Mark Taylor believes restoring Shane Watson to the opening position and shifting David Warner down to No.5 or 6 could be the formula Australia need to post challenging totals on the upcoming Ashes tour. The Australians are preparing to depart for England this weekend ahead of the Champions Trophy and Ashes campaign and after their disastrous series in India in February and March, there remain plenty of questions about the make-up of their batting line-up.

Chief among those is how to structure the top order given that the squad includes five potential opening batsmen: Watson, Warner, Ed Cowan, Chris Rogers and Phillip Hughes. Cowan and Warner are the incumbent openers but neither man has made himself untouchable and the inclusion of the veteran state and county batsman Rogers, who has nearly 20,000 first-class runs to his name, has raised the possibility of a shake-up to the top three.

There is also the matter of how to get the best out of Watson, who in the past two years has averaged 24.11 in Tests while batting anywhere from the opening position to No.5. Overall, Watson's average as a Test opener is a more robust 43.06 and Taylor, the former Test captain and opener who will be covering part of the Ashes as a commentator, believes the warm-up matches in Somerset and Worcestershire before the first Test will be telling.

"I think what they'll do is they'll use the first couple of county games to decide who is going to open the batting," Taylor told Radio Sport National. "I think Chris Rogers is right in the frame to open the batting. If I was a selector I would be looking at having Shane Watson as an opener as well. Shane Watson to me has been struggling now for 18 months or maybe two years. I think one of the reasons he's struggling is he's not really sure where he should play.

"If you look at his record, he plays his best opening the batting. Every time he bats down at four, five or six and tries to be a bowler also, he doesn't bat anywhere near as well as he should. That really hurts Australia because he is one of Australia's best batsmen. I would be thinking very seriously about playing Shane Watson where he plays the best, which is opening the batting.

"I think he's going to open with Warner, or he's going to open with Cowan or Rogers. The problem with opening with Warner is then you haven't really got the explosive player to play down the order at five or six. I wouldn't be surprised if they open with Watson and someone like Cowan or Rogers - I think they'll be vying for one spot, I don't think both of them can play, they're too similar in the way they play - and I think Dave Warner is a chance of batting down the order, he may bat at five or six."

Although Cowan and Warner have been together at the top of the order for 18 months, the possibility of a change has rekindled memories of the 1993 Ashes tour, when Matthew Hayden and Michael Slater were competing to become Taylor's new opening partner. Slater averaged 80.60 in the five first-class tour matches before the first Test compared to Hayden's 35.85 and made the Test spot his own. Taylor believes a similar battle could take place this year.

"I think they are going to be absolute trial games for the Australian side," he said of the tour matches. "They won't be just there for a bit of match practice. I think they'll be trying to work out what is the best order for this Australian side. I think Shane Watson creates the biggest question mark for the Australian side because I think on his day he is behind Michael Clarke as our best player, but Australia have to get the most out of him in this series.

"He's no longer the vice-captain of the side so he really only has to worry about batting, bowling and fielding. That's probably not a bad thing. I reckon the Australian hierarchy might me saying that to him, just get out there and particularly make some runs. I think Australia have got the quicks to get some wickets to win Test matches.

"Even though Shane Watson's bowling certainly is handy, it's not what they need mostly out of him. They need runs out of Shane Watson. They need probably two players to make 500 runs in this series and I think Shane Watson can do that job. But I'm not sure he can do it batting at four or five or six when he's also bowling."

Brad Haddin is likely to slot in at No.7, although he could also play in the top six, and his reinstatement as wicketkeeper and vice-captain at the age of 35 has raised questions about the lack of leadership options behind Clarke. Taylor said he believed all sports were struggling to develop leaders in the modern era, given the individual focus that players these days inclined towards.

"I'm not sure [the Test captaincy] has the same lustre these days because the money is so good in the game regardless," he said. "Players are more focused on themselves and playing for their future, playing as a career. I think sometimes they don't look at leadership like they used to 10 or 15 years ago."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on May 23, 2013, 7:37 GMT

    Tubby is absolutely correct on this point. Watson averages over 40 when opening, and his troubles over the past two years coincided exactly with his batting lower down the order. Putting Rogers anywhere but opening will be a waste of his awesome recent form. It will be well worthwhile to give Warner a run at #4. That leaves Cowan the odd man out, and unless he shines in a big way in the warmup matches I would prefer him to sit the series out as his inability to go on is starting to become a liability. My lineup is: Rogers, Watson, Hughes, Warner, Clarke, Khawaja, Haddin and would expect to sub Smith in somewhere at some point. But knowing CA they will more than likely screw up the squad and lineup and do something daft, eg. India tour.

  • goldeneraaus on May 23, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    Watson certainly is a conundrum and Taylor is absolutely right, Watson is our second best batsman, he averaged 45 in FC cricket through 2003-2009 a strong period for shield, has a very good ODI record and just needs to be used properly. What is 'properly' though is a many sided argument, it does seem appealing to have him open the batting and do a bit of bowling, as that is where he has been most successful, but I also think he has the game to adapt at number 5-6 where he started his FC career, (he has been in and out for the last 2 yrs due to injury and i think that stop-start nature is as much to blame for his low average), face the second new ball if needed, and also provided more than handy overs, especially given our injury prone quicks and his excellent use of swing. Team for England Rogers Cowan (perfect to see off the new ball and protect our stroke makers ala Cook n Strauss) Hughes Khawaja Clarke Watson Haddin with Warner as cover anywhere in the top 6 for failing batsman.

  • OneEyedAussie on May 30, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    The problem with Watson is discipline - he simply doesn't have the willpower to construct a test match innings. Look at his dismissals in India recently, don't take my word. Now, you can forgive guys like Hughes this trait because he is young and with proper mentoring he may grow out of this habit. Clarke was the same way too. It's interesting that Watson (with all the skills and no discipline) suffers the reverse problem from Cowan who is all discipline and no skills. Both should be left out of the squad in my opinion - we need hundreds not 30's.

  • hhillbumper on May 28, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    Having read the comments on here do you want us to just give the Ashes to you now and save time.i mean this must be the greatest Aussie team to these shores since Bradmans unbeatables. I mean it is scarey that we can play a team who have beaten all comers recently. By the way what was the score in India.I know England beat them but you lot must of demolished them given all the talent that you have?

    let us know where you want the Ashes left as the NHS is really busy and we don't want to have to patch up your fast attack too often

  • Jagger on May 28, 2013, 14:39 GMT

    @ KeithMillersHair - Thanks for your comment: No, I said one all-rounder - select one from exhaustive the list of players Shane Watson is keeping out of the team with a poor average of under 35 and can't bowl. "/" = "or". Also, picking recently retired players is simply illustrating how poor our current batch of batsmen are, and that we did not learn from past transition. It is a massive issue and it has not been publically discussed enough by the media imho. Ponting is not as 'shot' as Malcolm Conn would like everyone to think he is, in fact he was the most prolific batsman for the domestic Sheffield Shield as I'm sure you're aware. Cop that Malcolm. Not saying he'd star in England now, he probably wouldn't, but all he'd have to do is turn up because the current batch of Test batsmen, Clarke aside, are no better than B class, arguably below that, and certainly no better than Brad Hodge and Jaimie Siddons et al. who were run machines and missed out. Tribunal anyone $$$?

  • Longhairrocks on May 28, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    Interesting, from some of the comments posted here, England may as well not turn up and are being written off. Not the wisest move in the world

  • ScottStevo on May 28, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    Is it any coincidence that Watsons form slump coincided with his movement from opener to middle order batsman? Think not...If Watson doesn't open, he shouldn't play. Rogers shouldn't even be in the squad (complete joke) and Cowan finds ways of getting out straight after a wicket to put us in trouble when he's supposed to be a "solid" guy...Think Watson and Warner at the top with Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke. 6 is tough as we didn't bring enough specialist batsmen with us so either Cowan or Rogers has to play. As Rogers is the man for whatever we need him to be, he should be 6, then haddin and bowlers...Anyone suggesting Wade anywhere near the side without the gloves on needs their head examined as he's nowhere near good enough with the bat alone (nor with the gloves for that matter...)

  • kearon47 on May 28, 2013, 7:37 GMT

    A decent Squad for Australia, pause zzzzzzz, bowling wise ;-) Good, promising and mainly young bowling attack with the addition of Sir R. Harris. The Batting is where Australia will ulti 'mate' ly fail. Flat-tracker dudes like Hughes, Watson and Warner will not enjoy the swing of the Englishmen.

  • JF19 on May 27, 2013, 7:10 GMT

    Warner should be dropped from the test team and the selectors should pick someone who they believe would be the future of Australian cricket. The problem with Watson though is he does not go on and get the big scores. This is what a team needs from their opening pair. This takes the pressure off the others. This is what the great Aussie teams always had. A good platform.....

  • Barnesy4444 on May 26, 2013, 15:23 GMT

    I agree with the best captain since Border. We need runs, not bowlers. Ponting used Watson best, open the batting and bowling as a partnership breaker only. Watson should open with Rogers or Cowan, Hughes 3, Clarke 4, Warner 5, Khawaja 6, Haddin 7.

  • on May 23, 2013, 7:37 GMT

    Tubby is absolutely correct on this point. Watson averages over 40 when opening, and his troubles over the past two years coincided exactly with his batting lower down the order. Putting Rogers anywhere but opening will be a waste of his awesome recent form. It will be well worthwhile to give Warner a run at #4. That leaves Cowan the odd man out, and unless he shines in a big way in the warmup matches I would prefer him to sit the series out as his inability to go on is starting to become a liability. My lineup is: Rogers, Watson, Hughes, Warner, Clarke, Khawaja, Haddin and would expect to sub Smith in somewhere at some point. But knowing CA they will more than likely screw up the squad and lineup and do something daft, eg. India tour.

  • goldeneraaus on May 23, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    Watson certainly is a conundrum and Taylor is absolutely right, Watson is our second best batsman, he averaged 45 in FC cricket through 2003-2009 a strong period for shield, has a very good ODI record and just needs to be used properly. What is 'properly' though is a many sided argument, it does seem appealing to have him open the batting and do a bit of bowling, as that is where he has been most successful, but I also think he has the game to adapt at number 5-6 where he started his FC career, (he has been in and out for the last 2 yrs due to injury and i think that stop-start nature is as much to blame for his low average), face the second new ball if needed, and also provided more than handy overs, especially given our injury prone quicks and his excellent use of swing. Team for England Rogers Cowan (perfect to see off the new ball and protect our stroke makers ala Cook n Strauss) Hughes Khawaja Clarke Watson Haddin with Warner as cover anywhere in the top 6 for failing batsman.

  • OneEyedAussie on May 30, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    The problem with Watson is discipline - he simply doesn't have the willpower to construct a test match innings. Look at his dismissals in India recently, don't take my word. Now, you can forgive guys like Hughes this trait because he is young and with proper mentoring he may grow out of this habit. Clarke was the same way too. It's interesting that Watson (with all the skills and no discipline) suffers the reverse problem from Cowan who is all discipline and no skills. Both should be left out of the squad in my opinion - we need hundreds not 30's.

  • hhillbumper on May 28, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    Having read the comments on here do you want us to just give the Ashes to you now and save time.i mean this must be the greatest Aussie team to these shores since Bradmans unbeatables. I mean it is scarey that we can play a team who have beaten all comers recently. By the way what was the score in India.I know England beat them but you lot must of demolished them given all the talent that you have?

    let us know where you want the Ashes left as the NHS is really busy and we don't want to have to patch up your fast attack too often

  • Jagger on May 28, 2013, 14:39 GMT

    @ KeithMillersHair - Thanks for your comment: No, I said one all-rounder - select one from exhaustive the list of players Shane Watson is keeping out of the team with a poor average of under 35 and can't bowl. "/" = "or". Also, picking recently retired players is simply illustrating how poor our current batch of batsmen are, and that we did not learn from past transition. It is a massive issue and it has not been publically discussed enough by the media imho. Ponting is not as 'shot' as Malcolm Conn would like everyone to think he is, in fact he was the most prolific batsman for the domestic Sheffield Shield as I'm sure you're aware. Cop that Malcolm. Not saying he'd star in England now, he probably wouldn't, but all he'd have to do is turn up because the current batch of Test batsmen, Clarke aside, are no better than B class, arguably below that, and certainly no better than Brad Hodge and Jaimie Siddons et al. who were run machines and missed out. Tribunal anyone $$$?

  • Longhairrocks on May 28, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    Interesting, from some of the comments posted here, England may as well not turn up and are being written off. Not the wisest move in the world

  • ScottStevo on May 28, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    Is it any coincidence that Watsons form slump coincided with his movement from opener to middle order batsman? Think not...If Watson doesn't open, he shouldn't play. Rogers shouldn't even be in the squad (complete joke) and Cowan finds ways of getting out straight after a wicket to put us in trouble when he's supposed to be a "solid" guy...Think Watson and Warner at the top with Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke. 6 is tough as we didn't bring enough specialist batsmen with us so either Cowan or Rogers has to play. As Rogers is the man for whatever we need him to be, he should be 6, then haddin and bowlers...Anyone suggesting Wade anywhere near the side without the gloves on needs their head examined as he's nowhere near good enough with the bat alone (nor with the gloves for that matter...)

  • kearon47 on May 28, 2013, 7:37 GMT

    A decent Squad for Australia, pause zzzzzzz, bowling wise ;-) Good, promising and mainly young bowling attack with the addition of Sir R. Harris. The Batting is where Australia will ulti 'mate' ly fail. Flat-tracker dudes like Hughes, Watson and Warner will not enjoy the swing of the Englishmen.

  • JF19 on May 27, 2013, 7:10 GMT

    Warner should be dropped from the test team and the selectors should pick someone who they believe would be the future of Australian cricket. The problem with Watson though is he does not go on and get the big scores. This is what a team needs from their opening pair. This takes the pressure off the others. This is what the great Aussie teams always had. A good platform.....

  • Barnesy4444 on May 26, 2013, 15:23 GMT

    I agree with the best captain since Border. We need runs, not bowlers. Ponting used Watson best, open the batting and bowling as a partnership breaker only. Watson should open with Rogers or Cowan, Hughes 3, Clarke 4, Warner 5, Khawaja 6, Haddin 7.

  • Buckers97 on May 26, 2013, 12:16 GMT

    This is how the team should line up; 1. Watson 2. Cowan 3. Hughes 4. Rogers 5. Clarke (c) 6. Warner 7. Haddin (wk/vc) 8. Pattinson 9. Siddle 10. Harris 11. Lyon I really wish that they had of picked O'keefe or Agar and Steve Smith

  • on May 26, 2013, 11:04 GMT

    I would pick Cowan and rogers to bat first and have khwaja @3, hughes @4,clarke@5, watson@6,haddin@7,pattisnson@8,Starc@9,Bird@10 and lyon@11

  • ygkd on May 26, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Watson is not really an opener. However, apart from "Maxi" Klinger, there really aren't any obviously experienced right-handed openers to turn to. There is too much swap-handed batting coming through the ranks and that means an awful lot of leftie converts. The right/left opening partnership, once so common, is now noticeable by its rarity. Yes, there's a few younger ones about, yet too few to make a discernible difference any time soon. Is there anything really wrong with encouraging young right-handers to stay that way? Australia's recent struggle with off-spin is partly a result of too many lefties in the batting department. The balance is completely out of kilter.

  • VillageBlacksmith on May 26, 2013, 9:14 GMT

    "I think he's going to open with Warner, or he's going to open with Cowan.... or Rogers''... So that's settled then, ok so now you know watto !!

  • VivGilchrist on May 26, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    @Mitty2, you're not related to Ed Cowan by any chance?

  • Ozcricketwriter on May 25, 2013, 12:38 GMT

    Watson can open but I wouldn't be so certain that Rogers needs to open. Rogers is the new guy to the team so will bat where he is most needed - if he gets a place in the team at all. Rogers is in no position to be demanding to open the batting. The two most successful openers for Australia, out of the team, are Watson and Warner. These two should open. Let the rest fill out the batting order however they wish.

  • Mary_786 on May 25, 2013, 12:34 GMT

    @Popcorn well said, agree 100%

  • on May 25, 2013, 6:30 GMT

    @Popcorn, not sure how you can knock Warner's efforts at the WACA after he thrashed them at Adelaide. I think he also made half centuries in every test against SL and then in two tests against India as well. Pretty sure he is still averaging around 40. If Hughes is living on past glories, which I don't believe he is, then what is Watto doing exactly? Hughes to me looked a much better player when coming back against SL, getting in behind the line of the ball and scoring all around the ground. I think he'll be one of our top bats over the next 10 years. Cowan, as good a fighter as he is generally looks cooked by the time he gets to 30 or 40, its just not enough, not when you can have a young bloke in there scoring big centuries. Snail rate 40's do not win matches. He is currently doing the same thing at Notts, btw. Rogers, Warner, Hughes is my top 3.

  • popcorn on May 25, 2013, 4:47 GMT

    @Jono Makim,check the records of Phil Hughes and David Warner. Phil Hughes is resting his laurels on his twin centuries against South Africa in South Africa in early 2009. After that zilch. He flattered to deceive in the County matches before The Ashes 2009.And shook our foundation by his poor opening technique - Harmison found him out,and he had to be dropped. Arise Sir Shane Watson, out of the blue, and he salvaged something. We lost The Ashes 2009.for two reasons - a) Phil Hughes and b) not plating Nathan Hauritz at the Oval. Next against New Zealand, Hughes was "caught Guptill in the slips bowled Chris Martin" - FOUR TIMES. He was Dropped. He came back and failed in India. Send him back to his banana farm. As to Dave Warner, when we wanted him to play steady, he flashed outside the off stump against Dale Steyn at the WACA, and we lost. Then in India again,he thought Test cricket is T20.We lost.Watson and Haddin, on the other hand at least score runs.And Watson bowls a good pace.

  • Jayzuz on May 24, 2013, 14:04 GMT

    No doubt Watson is a quality opener. His technique is superb against the new ball. His problem was always when he got to thirty-odd, and the brain freeze sets in. We have too many openers. Despite what some ignoramuses say, Warner was very consistent before the India tour (went into the series averaging 47), and we won't see the outrageous dustbowls that the Indians served up, in the Ashes. Nor can the Poms readily dish up green tops, because quite frankly, we have a pretty awesome fast attack in the making there, and if conditions suit, England will be in for a nightmare ride if they bat first in such conditions. I'd actually be tempted to open with Rogers and Watson, and put Warner #3. He doesn't fancy spin, so I don't see him as a #6. Then Hughes, Clarke... It also has to be remembered that we have a very long tail, with Starc, Pattinson and co effectively allrounders. They might just shock and make some big scores.

  • Moppa on May 24, 2013, 10:37 GMT

    @Mitty 2, I should add that I hadnt' spotted your comment when I posted before - nice analysis. However, I think Watson still has to be given one more chance, Australia aren't going to win the Ashes back by playing safe and Watson is one guy that could really shift the balance of power... or fail miserably!

  • mcj.cricinfo on May 24, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    Sorry to say, but as much as Watson's talent is there, he can't make it happen in test cricket. Everyone would like to see him succeed as a batsman but now that the bowlers have done their homework on him in test cricket, he doesn't succeed. Warner and Cowan have the best record in the last 18 months worldwide. Breaking up a successful opening partnership in vain hope to resuscitate Watson's fading career is a reckless gamble.

  • on May 24, 2013, 7:48 GMT

    1. Watson 2. Rogers 3. Hughes 4. Burns 5. Clarke 6. Khawaja 7. Haddin 8. Pattinson 9. Siddle 10. Bird 11. Lyon

    Get rid of the unreliable and overrated slogger Warner and bring in reliable no.4 Burns.

  • derpherp on May 24, 2013, 6:50 GMT

    Whatever they decide to do with Watson, i reckon Rodgers has to open.

  • on May 24, 2013, 6:39 GMT

    @Popcorn, so you'd drop Warner and Hughes because they are undependable, yet play watto and hadds, both of whom having pretty average records despite long runs in the team? Both these guys have scored more centuries than Watto from far fewer innings played.

  • popcorn on May 24, 2013, 4:04 GMT

    I would drop Warner and Hughes totally. Both are undependable.Ed Cowan and Chris Rogers are rock solid openers and will lay the foundation for a huge score.At one drop is another batsman with good techmique, Usman Khawaja. The Engine Room.Watson as allrounder at 4, Captain Clarke at 5, Haddin as wicket keeper and batsman at 6, Mathew Wade as batsman at 7.

  • on May 24, 2013, 3:41 GMT

    agree with Taylor. Watson is best up top, Warner can have a slog down the order, he's just not reliable enough up top. Cowan what on earth is he doing in the Australian side, get rid of him asap. Rogers opening alongside Watson, thats about the best this rubbish side can do at the moment, but England really arent *that* much better so who knows.. might be closer than people expect.

  • disco_bob on May 24, 2013, 2:24 GMT

    Watson may end up doing a Freddy Flintoff and end up bowling out of his skin with a few devastating batting cameos, then disintegrate as his fragile body implodes.

  • Meety on May 24, 2013, 1:26 GMT

    @jonesy2 on (May 23, 2013, 17:10 GMT) - yes, this thread needed you to put some perspective back into things. That said, I would have to pick you up on something, surely Mitch Marsh is the best allrounder in the world? You have said so yourself! :)

  • Meety on May 24, 2013, 1:22 GMT

    @Winsome on (May 23, 2013, 8:04 GMT) - I agree re: Warner down the order, & Watto seems to struggle against a softer ball in Test cricket. IMO Cowan needs to open (if selected), IF we are to worry about Swann, we'd be better off batting Henriques or Smith in the middle order. Which really IMO comes back to what I've sort of said for a while now, if Swann is taking wickets, it would sort of mean we have seen off the quicks where the bulk of the damage COULD be done QUICKLY! @Mitty2 on (May 23, 2013, 9:30 GMT) - OUCH! When you say it like that.... Seriously was with you until you started with the "..selfish.." bit onwards. Nailed just about all the batting weakpoints in Wattos batting though! @landl47 on (May 23, 2013, 11:42 GMT) - I don't think Watto's problem is specifically close in fielders in Tests. I don't think he gets caught in the slips too often (no more than others), look at the list Mitty compiled earlier. His biggest problem is, he doesn't rotate the strike & isn't aware!

  • Meety on May 24, 2013, 1:11 GMT

    There is elements of truth in Tubby says. On the other hand, having Warner open (the position MOST of his FC career has been played) is pretty compelling as he has one of the only currently decent Test averages in the top 6. Also, having Watto down the order in THEORY should be a counter punch to Swann (v having middle order lefties).

  • MinusZero on May 24, 2013, 0:31 GMT

    I disagree, I wouldnt pick Watson at all. Why do they persist on trying to make an ODI player into a test player. Watson has never excelled in tests. Enough time and money has been wasted on him. Cowan is the perfect fit at the top of the order. He has patience, Watson and Warner do not and constantly get out to stupid shots.

  • alstar2281 on May 23, 2013, 23:30 GMT

    I have been saying that for the past year. My XI in batting order: Cowan Watson Rogers Clarke Wade Warner Haddin Starc Pattinson Lyon Bird Siddle (12th) Obviously the four quicks can rotate throughout the series and Siddle would bat 8. Hughes is next in line for a batting spot and could take Wade's spot if they are adverse to playing two keepers (but lets not forget Wade's handy mediums could be useful if Watto or another quick breaks down)

  • pat_one_back on May 23, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    England need a miracle spell just to put NZ away, surely these guys can chalk up 300 beteeen them in any order, Aust bowlers and Eng's underperforming batting line up do the rest. Rogers needs to slot in at 5 or 6 to support Clarke and bat through with our strong lower order, ie replace Hussey! Watson & Warner opening Hughes @ 3 will put early pressure on before any reverse comes into play, be interesting to see Khawaja given a shot at 4 or 5 too.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on May 23, 2013, 19:24 GMT

    Excellent, bring back Watson just so Anderson can help himself again. Australia really haven't moved on in five years, which makes what's happened to them in that time plain for all to see except for Cricket Australia and a few supporters.

  • RandyOZ on May 23, 2013, 18:12 GMT

    We should be opening with Warner and Rogers. The line up is obvious: Rogers, Warner, Khawaja, Hughes, Clarke, Watson, Haddin, Pattinson, Starc/Lyon, Bird, Harris

  • on May 23, 2013, 17:58 GMT

    its ok for watto as opener...but i dnt think batsman like dave warner can bat at no 6 or 5....same problem for hughes as they r playing swann and monty......

    my xi for 1st test will be- 1.s watson 2.p hughes 3.d warner 4.m clarke 5.c rogers 6.m wade 7. b haddin 8.m starc/j faulkner 9.j patto 10.n lyon 11.p siddle 12.e cowan

    starc can bat too(and better then cowan) so he or jf can provide depth to batting lineup...

  • jonesy2 on May 23, 2013, 17:10 GMT

    ok for a start wattos bowling isn't "handy" its outstanding, he is the best allrounder in the world, would walk into any other team in the world purely as a bowler alone and needs to be bowling but I don't see why he cant be bowling and opening, its purely a mental thing with shane. I was thinking about it the other day and I think this should be the batting lineup: Watson, warner, rogers, khawaja, Clarke, hughes, I think having hughes down the order is a great ploy, imagine how demoralising it could be for England to have taken about 4 or 5 wickets and still have to deal with hughes and a top order batsmen or wade. for mine that lineup is world class and has no weakness at all with the brilliance of watto and warner opening up then the test specialist solidity and sublime skills of rogers and usman in the middle followed by the worlds best then the explosive and versatile hughes rounding it out. perfecto! sorry ed

  • dinom on May 23, 2013, 16:46 GMT

    Agreed with Taylor, Watson should open. However, lets try Rogers to be his partner. Cowan can be an alternative if Watson-Rogers partnership fails. I am more in favour of Warner at first fall (reminiscence of master blaster Sir Richards at no 3). Hughes can drop to 4, Clarke played his best cricket at 5 anyway so he should go back there, Khawaja should be tried again at 6 (with Smith as an alternative if he failed), Haddin at 7, then the four bowlers.

  • vrn59 on May 23, 2013, 15:50 GMT

    I agree. My XI would be Watson, Cowan, Rogers, Hughes, Clarke, Warner, Haddin, Harris, Pattinson, Siddle, Lyon. 12th man: Starc.

  • KeithMillersHair on May 23, 2013, 15:38 GMT

    @Jagger you sounded like you were making sense, and then you picked a side where the batting order has an average age of about 54 and has mostly retired from international cricket. Why not pick Bradman while you're at it? Then you chose 6 all-rounders, a keeper who is not much of a batsman, and only three specialist bowlers. Its a bit of waste of time picking sides like that which will never play. And rightly so. I am the biggest Hodge fan and cried out for him to get a Test place for years - but now he is 38 going on 39, and I'm afraid his generation is no longer the answer. One way or another the younger guys need to stand up, and they can only do that if they play.

  • Jagger on May 23, 2013, 14:40 GMT

    Rubbish. Watson is not an opener. Not a middle order batsman either. He is the optimum number 7 in tests, and a pinch hitter in limited overs cricket. Rogers is the only successful opener in the side, Clarke is at 3rd drop because he is a back related invalid, Warner is a number 6 test batsman at absolute best, and we need a real wicket keeper. The whole Australian squad is completely WRONG. First Ashes Test should be: Rogers, M.Hussey, Ponting, Hodge, Clarke, Warner, O'Keefe/ McDonald/ Watson/ Faulkner/ Henriques/ Coulter-Nile, Hartley, Pattinson, Harris, Bird. That side, ladies and gentlemen, would give the poms a hiding.

  • on May 23, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    We need centurions at the top of the order. Watson did average over 40 opening but that was against all opposition. England are a tough opposition. Watson didn't have enough conversions to centuries. What must also be taken into account is that Watson didn't bowl as much when opening and his bowling is needed in the Ashes. Watson can not open. On the same note Cowan should not be in the side. He has done more to warrant being dropped, than he has to warrant selection. Hughes and Warner should open, with Rogers as the other possibility. Warner has the capability to do what Hayden used to do - take the game away from the opposition early. Warner should open and Hugh's style of batting with complement Warner well. Watson averaging in the 40's also just means that he was in form four years ago (when he still wasn't scoring centuries). Watson should not open

  • Baseball-Sucks on May 23, 2013, 13:48 GMT

    It seems that CA is adopting " Mahela strategies ". wow. It was Mahela who sent Warner down the order to get "KP" outta him in the IPL. Now CA is following the same strategy.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on May 23, 2013, 13:33 GMT

    The wheels are starting to come off already without a ball being bowled. When Clarke retires after the next Ashes (through injury or, more likely, being forced out after becoming the first captain to lose a B2B Ashes so comprehensively), Siddle should be given the captaincy and Warner should be keeper/batsman, taking Clarke spot down at 7 or 6 or wherever he plays these days. Aus needed to make serious changes long ago, now it's just too late.

  • YogifromNY on May 23, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    It made me nostalgic to read about Slater and Hayden fighting for the opening spot on that English tour a couple of decades ago and Hayden actually losing out to Slater in terms of the spot for the opening partner with Taylor. What batsmen Australia had then! Also, too bad T20 did not exist then - players like Slater and Hayden would have been LETHAL in that format. And Glenn McGrath would have rivaled Dale Steyn in his effectiveness at strangling batsmen's scoring! Oh, well. (This from an Indian supporter based in the US.)

  • blink182alex on May 23, 2013, 12:11 GMT

    Watson averages 48 against England as an opener. He scored 435 runs in the 2010-1 ashes so it is not beyond the reals of possibility that he can get 500 runs in a series. I would personally have him open with Warner as that would be an aggressive opening partnership that have showed they can open in tests.

    However, the selectors love Cowan and they have pretty much guaranteed Rogers a starting place so i would imagine the top 7 for Trent Bridge would be this 1. Warner 2. Cowan 3. Rogers 4. Watson 5. Clarke 6. Hughes 7. Haddin. Not sure they will bat Hughes at 6 though, it shows how unstable our batting is atm that we don't know what the batting order will be in our next test.

  • on May 23, 2013, 12:10 GMT

    agreed with mitty. Also watson's bowling is at its best when conditions suit swing/reverse swing. You just can't miss his bowling, considering the brittle nature of Australia's fast bowlers. This will allow guys like stark and pattinson to bowl shorter spells and hence much quicker.

  • KeithMillersHair on May 23, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    For what is worth my XI for the first test is: Warner, Cowan, Rodgers, Clarke, Kwahja, Wade, Haddin, Harris, Siddle, Patnison, Bird. With Lyon as 12th man.

    Watson, along with Hughes, misses out in favour of less glamorous but more reliable players. Ussie gets three tests to stake his claim, after which he is either in for the long hall or can be written off as a dud. Even if Wade doesn't keep he bats at six because even with only one ball he has more than some of the other players on the team. And four seamers because the first test is played at a ground which doesn't do much for spin. That side will be able to take 20 wickets reliably and fairly economically and can grind out enough runs to be competitive. And that's about as good as we can hope for I reckon.

  • landl47 on May 23, 2013, 11:42 GMT

    Watson isn't a very successful test batsman because his shot selection is poor. He gets away with it in the shorter formats because there aren't many close catchers, but in tests it gets him out. He's a useful bowler, but Taylor seems to be giving up on his bowling in the hopes that he'll make more runs.

    Since I see no point in picking Rogers for the squad unless he's going to be in the team (otherwise what is he there for- the experience?) I assume he'll play. Cowan, although he's not a test-class player in a strong squad, at least sticks around and sees off the new ball. Clarke is at #5, which leaves Watson, Hughes, Warner and Khawaja competing for 3 spots.

    It's an odd-looking line-up, with 5 batsmen who consider themselves openers plus Clarke and the inexperienced Khawaja, so Aus will probably try various combinations to see which works best. I'd have Watson in the side if only because he'll be there as cover for Harris and/or Pattinson.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on May 23, 2013, 11:42 GMT

    Why are Aus. still so reluctant to throw out the short-form specialists from tests? It makes no sense. And where are O.Keefe and McKay to bolster the fragile bowling attack? There's even a lot of talk of Siddle not being picked for the team; can you belive it? He's the only bowler there capable of bowling more than 4 overs.

  • KeithMillersHair on May 23, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    Nooooooo. This is just terrible logic. The fact that Watson averaged higher four years ago than he has for the last two years does not mean that he should go back to opening the batting. It means that he is in very bad form! Seriously, we have five potential opening batsmen and we are going to pick the one with the worst batting form over the last two years on the theory that opening will suddenly rekindle some form?? Sorry Tubby, you're way off.

    I also disagree with Tubby that you can't have Cowan and Rodgers in the same side because they are too similar... they maybe similar but they are different than every other batsman we have in that they are solid and steady. Cowan and Warner are actually one of the best performing opening pairs in the world right now - although I agree individually they both need to do better - so in an unstable side why mess with one of the few aspects that is halfway working?

  • on May 23, 2013, 11:13 GMT

    @Chris_Howard, I agree whole heartedly. Rogers, Warner and Hughes really should be our top three. We need batsmen scoring centuries. Cowan Watson and to a lesser extent Khawaja show little inclination/ability to make big scores once settled. Just have a look at the career hundreds/innings ratio of these 6 batsmen and you'll soon see why the former should be playing and the later considered fringe players.

    I'm not so sure that Watto has lost form as been figured out. A full moving ball is just not his syrup at all. The big advantage he has in limited overs cricket is that the ball just doesn't move at all in a lot of matches and he can hit through the line of the ball as well as anyone, making him a superstar. I don't know why our selectors can't see the difference.

  • Beertjie on May 23, 2013, 11:10 GMT

    I agree with most of his remarks except the one: "They need probably two players to make 500 runs in this series and I think Shane Watson can do that job." Sure that's what they need but Watson has never looked close to getting there before so why pick him to do so now? For me, although he's practically a newbie, Rogers is that man. But Watto opening comes with a caution. Here I partly agree with @Chris_Howard on (May 23, 2013, 9:00 GMT) that "Just because Watson made runs as an opener a few years ago doesn't mean he will again." Through him and any others out before we are humiliated again. Give him a go in place of Cowan, but if he or others fail bring Cowan back. Clearly CA is playing a waiting game with the 17th player @Lliam Flynn on (May 23, 2013, 7:37 GMT) - not a bad strategy to have an extra batter or spinner fly in later.

  • on May 23, 2013, 11:06 GMT

    I think it is a great idea to move Warner down to the middle order. It has worked wonders for Baz McCullum and NZ. He has been far more consistent with his hitting and scoring.

    As for Watson. I don't care what Taylor says. Watson is seriously not good enough to be in a test team. There is no excuse for his failures over a two year period. Even before that he was hardly lighting up the world.

    There is no doubt he is a quality ODI and T20 player. So are a lot of people. He should not be on this tour.

    Rogers, Cowan (yes both - they need stability), Hughes, Clarke, Warner, Kwaj, Haddin, Starc, Siddle, Pattinson, Lyon

  • Mitty2 on May 23, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    To the myth of Watson being better as an opener and considering that it is already established that his form does not in any way warrant selection, the only justification or watson's selection can be that he is better at a certain position, but if his record at that position is even more mediocre than his normal record, he should be very very far away from the test team.

    Sheffield Shield Batting Average by Batting Position: Opening = 11.3, no.3 = 55.8, no.4 = 37.7, no.5 = 77.5, no.6 = 33.8, no.7 = 115.0.

    Sheffield Shield Batting Average by Year: 2001-2004 (Tasmania) = 42.9, 2004-2009 (Queensland) = 44.7, 2010-Present (New South Wales) = 20.1

    For the county, he never even opened and averaged 82.

    His average of 42 opening is only because he opened in the years of him being in form/uninjured and considering his terrible form and bad record at opening, I'm afraid mark you're wrong and Watson should be as far away from even the Australia A squad as possible.

  • farkin on May 23, 2013, 10:28 GMT

    if your going to talk about who should be where and using runs in the subcontinent for who should be in the ashers side then you only have clarke and the bowlers because the other nuff nuff batsmen like watson an warner did not make runs in the subcontinent

  • Gandery on May 23, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    I agree with Tubby also. Watson has been a big success at the top and failed miserably in other spots. My 11 would be: Watson, Rogers, Hughes, Clarke, Khawaja, Warner, Haddin, Copeland, Starc, Harris, Lyon

  • Batmanian on May 23, 2013, 9:35 GMT

    Very similar to Lliam Flynn: Watson, Rogers, Warner, Hughes, Clarke, Khawaja, Hidden

    I would add their margins for error: Watson (safe for two games), Rogers (safe for two games), Warner (safe for one), Hughes (safe for one), Clarke (safe), Khawaja (safe for two), Haddin (safe for two)

    The back up is not terrible: Smith deserves another go. Wade is better batting with the tail than Haddin. Joe Burns deserves a go soon. If things go really wrong, there's Cowan, or Henriques.

  • Mitty2 on May 23, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    Despite being a perennial underperformer and an absolute disappointment with the bat at test level who gets out early, gets out when he's looking good, when he's looking bad, gets out after planting his front foot out because he couldn't read a length to save himself, when about to reach a milestone, about to reach a break, when trying to start after a break, when trying to run between the wickets, when playing the same shot that has gotten him out three times already in the same series (see against India) and of course, when getting bogged down, Watson also is an egocentrical, selfish and arrogant primadonna with terrible leadership skills who loves to throw a fit when things aren't going his way (see India), watto also couldn't care less about the team he plays for! (see the amount of times he says "me", "I" "my" in an interview in comparison to how many references he makes to the team). The selectors won't drop him purely because he'll throw a fit and complain like a baby if they do

  • on May 23, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    @Winsome, you are absolutely correct. I did oversimplify the relationship between Watson's position and his batting stats. He opened all thru 2011 and averaged ~25. Interestingly, 2011 was his best year with the ball (averaging sub-20) which included a few innings at the Saffas on their home turf! I feel that the desire to get Watson back to form prompted the bouncing around of position which patently hasn't helped. I think it's to the point of open or nothing. If he can't make runs at the top then given his reluctance to bowl he has no excuses and he has to go.

  • Chris_Howard on May 23, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    Just because Watson made runs as an opener a few years ago doesn't mean he will again. We keep holding onto that crazy hope. Maybe he lost form because he lost form. Maybe he's not as good as he used to be. Putting him back to open is no guaranteed magic bullet. And anyway - he was a crap opener. Openers must turn 50s into 100s. We lost Tests because of that fail of his as an opener.

    He instills no confidence in the fan. And it must give the bowler heart knowing Watson is unlikely to get his century after reaching 50. You know his wicket is just around the corner.

    We want openers who can see the shine off the ball and then go on with it. Chris Rogers would be an obvious choice. Cowan will see the shine off but is not going on with it. Hughes and Warner want to dominate the bowler, but consequently play with greater risk. The combo of a solid opener and one with flair may work.

    So it's hard to know who to pair with Rogers. We'll just have to let the warm up matches decide

  • Governor on May 23, 2013, 8:57 GMT

    Mark Taylor does raise a valid point. You play your best batsmen in their best postiions.

    This is my ASHES XI

    Watson Warner Rodgers Khawaja Clarke Wade Haddin Siddle Pattinson Harris Ahmed

  • bootesy15 on May 23, 2013, 8:49 GMT

    This would be my lineup: Watson, Rodgers, Warner (he can be aggressive and dangerous like Ponting was much of his career - and if a wicket falls early he can deal with the new ball), Clarke, Hughes (No 5. would take a lot of pressure off of hughes and i think would provide him a chance to play a similar role as Steve Waugh played), Cowan/Wade (This is highly contentious - without Hussy the accumulator you need someone who provide stability and do a similar role - thats why i've played cowan and he showed he is getting better with spin after India, Wade would also do) Haddin, Starc, Pattinson, Harris, Lyon (best test spinner Australia have at the moment)

  • deathstar01 on May 23, 2013, 8:41 GMT

    There is no doubt that Watto should be the opener. It was Ashes 2009 in England when Watson started his revival his career and that was also as a opener.

  • on May 23, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    david warner and watson should be opening the batting ed cowan should be out he failed to make runs in sub continent on the other hand david warner and watson will pe providing good starts to the team and setting up the platform

  • Winsome on May 23, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    Lliam Flynn, Watson's problems with the bat started when Katich was dropped. He lost form then while he was still opening and has never regained it no matter where he has batted. Warner is as bad as Watson against spin, possibly worse, I just can't see how anyone will be helped by Warner or Watson at 6. Swann will be licking his lips. They should put Ed Cowan there, he appeared to cope least worst out of the Aus batsmen apart from Clarke in India. Or bring in Steve Smith, though that thought makes me shudder.

  • on May 23, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    This is all very well and good until poor old Watto has to bowl 15 overs and then go out and bat late in the day. He has said numerous times he can't take the load of opening and bowling together. Far better having him at 6 where his "can i bowl, should i bowl, will i bowl, i think i'll have a bowl!" routine is least disruptive. Its then up to watto to perform or make way for someone else. Enough pampering already!

  • ramonster on May 23, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    My XI: Watson, Cowan, Rodgers, Clarke, Hughes, Warner, Haddin, Starc, Pattinson, Siddle, Lyon/Harris

  • Dangertroy on May 23, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    When Watson was recalled as an opener, everyone said it was a stopgap for a series or two. Now commentators want him back at the top. Kind of funny we went from have Watson and Katich opening, neither of which was a natural opener, to now potentially having four in the team, or five of that's what Watson is considered now...

  • Dangertroy on May 23, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    When Watson was recalled as an opener, everyone said it was a stopgap for a series or two. Now commentators want him back at the top. Kind of funny we went from have Watson and Katich opening, neither of which was a natural opener, to now potentially having four in the team, or five of that's what Watson is considered now...

  • ramonster on May 23, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    My XI: Watson, Cowan, Rodgers, Clarke, Hughes, Warner, Haddin, Starc, Pattinson, Siddle, Lyon/Harris

  • on May 23, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    This is all very well and good until poor old Watto has to bowl 15 overs and then go out and bat late in the day. He has said numerous times he can't take the load of opening and bowling together. Far better having him at 6 where his "can i bowl, should i bowl, will i bowl, i think i'll have a bowl!" routine is least disruptive. Its then up to watto to perform or make way for someone else. Enough pampering already!

  • Winsome on May 23, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    Lliam Flynn, Watson's problems with the bat started when Katich was dropped. He lost form then while he was still opening and has never regained it no matter where he has batted. Warner is as bad as Watson against spin, possibly worse, I just can't see how anyone will be helped by Warner or Watson at 6. Swann will be licking his lips. They should put Ed Cowan there, he appeared to cope least worst out of the Aus batsmen apart from Clarke in India. Or bring in Steve Smith, though that thought makes me shudder.

  • on May 23, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    david warner and watson should be opening the batting ed cowan should be out he failed to make runs in sub continent on the other hand david warner and watson will pe providing good starts to the team and setting up the platform

  • deathstar01 on May 23, 2013, 8:41 GMT

    There is no doubt that Watto should be the opener. It was Ashes 2009 in England when Watson started his revival his career and that was also as a opener.

  • bootesy15 on May 23, 2013, 8:49 GMT

    This would be my lineup: Watson, Rodgers, Warner (he can be aggressive and dangerous like Ponting was much of his career - and if a wicket falls early he can deal with the new ball), Clarke, Hughes (No 5. would take a lot of pressure off of hughes and i think would provide him a chance to play a similar role as Steve Waugh played), Cowan/Wade (This is highly contentious - without Hussy the accumulator you need someone who provide stability and do a similar role - thats why i've played cowan and he showed he is getting better with spin after India, Wade would also do) Haddin, Starc, Pattinson, Harris, Lyon (best test spinner Australia have at the moment)

  • Governor on May 23, 2013, 8:57 GMT

    Mark Taylor does raise a valid point. You play your best batsmen in their best postiions.

    This is my ASHES XI

    Watson Warner Rodgers Khawaja Clarke Wade Haddin Siddle Pattinson Harris Ahmed

  • Chris_Howard on May 23, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    Just because Watson made runs as an opener a few years ago doesn't mean he will again. We keep holding onto that crazy hope. Maybe he lost form because he lost form. Maybe he's not as good as he used to be. Putting him back to open is no guaranteed magic bullet. And anyway - he was a crap opener. Openers must turn 50s into 100s. We lost Tests because of that fail of his as an opener.

    He instills no confidence in the fan. And it must give the bowler heart knowing Watson is unlikely to get his century after reaching 50. You know his wicket is just around the corner.

    We want openers who can see the shine off the ball and then go on with it. Chris Rogers would be an obvious choice. Cowan will see the shine off but is not going on with it. Hughes and Warner want to dominate the bowler, but consequently play with greater risk. The combo of a solid opener and one with flair may work.

    So it's hard to know who to pair with Rogers. We'll just have to let the warm up matches decide

  • on May 23, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    @Winsome, you are absolutely correct. I did oversimplify the relationship between Watson's position and his batting stats. He opened all thru 2011 and averaged ~25. Interestingly, 2011 was his best year with the ball (averaging sub-20) which included a few innings at the Saffas on their home turf! I feel that the desire to get Watson back to form prompted the bouncing around of position which patently hasn't helped. I think it's to the point of open or nothing. If he can't make runs at the top then given his reluctance to bowl he has no excuses and he has to go.