Somerset v Australians, Taunton, 2nd day

Watson responds to Lehmann regime

The Report by Daniel Brettig

June 27, 2013

Comments: 71 | Text size: A | A

Stumps Australians 266 for 4 (Watson 90, Clarke 45, Hughes 44*, Haddin 38*) trail Somerset 320 (Jones 130, Compton 81, Starc 4-33) by 54 runs
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Michael Clarke hits the ball square through the offside, Somerset v Australians, Taunton, 2nd day, June 27, 2013
Michael Clarke looked in no discomfort in his first innings back from injury © Associated Press
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Shane Watson followed James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc in providing a tantalising glimpse of the destructive power to be found within this Australian side as they warmed up against Somerset. In sending Watson up to open the innings and promising he will stay there, the new coach, Darren Lehmann, appeared to bring an immediate change to the allrounder's previously drifting game.

An innings of 90, on a blameless pitch against presentable bowling, does not quite indicate that Watson is to regain the Test match effectiveness that won him two Allan Border Medals, and had him named as Michael Clarke's deputy in 2011. In fact the score itself was emblematic of Watson's career aversion to making Test hundreds. But the clarity of his stroke production and the ease of his rapid scoring was exactly what Lehmann will hope for against Jimmy Anderson and company.

It was a marked contrast from Watson's previous innings, a brief affair against Sri Lanka in the Champions Trophy when one cover drive was followed by a horrid attempt to cut in line of the stumps. Wasteful dismissals such as these have been a significant factor in the failure of Watson to deliver on a promise that has hung in the air around him for a decade now, but there was nothing muddled about the way he opened up at Taunton, driving when the bowlers overpitched, pulling or glancing when short, and leaving most in between.

Michael Clarke also offered a promising cameo, finding touch in his first innings of any kind for three months before rain brought an early end to day two. A pair of low scores for Ed Cowan and Usman Khawaja did not enhance either left-hander's chances of winning a place in the XI for the first Investec Ashes Test at Trent Bridge. As the others proved, these were ideal conditions for batting.

Phillip Hughes and Brad Haddin were easing their way towards useful tallies when the showers arrived. Haddin lofted George Dockrell down the ground with typical flourish to have the ball pounding off the scorers' window in the Taunton press box. When the match resumes, Hughes should have the opportunity to press his case for retention after Cowan and Khawaja had failed to capitalise on their precedence in the batting order.

Watson ran up a huge percentage of his runs in boundaries, his straight drives a particular delight. He also took full advantage whenever Craig Meschede angled into the pads, flicking with wristy power between midwicket and mid on. He briefly threatened to collar a century before lunch, but a front edge from the bowling of the slippery Craig Overton ended a stay that lasted only 94 balls, 20 of which reached the rope.

Clarke's start was a little less forthright, as could be expected for someone who had not batted since the Mohali Test match against India in March, when the suspension of four players for failing to follow instructions was followed by the flaring up of his chronic back condition. But he punched a couple of drives through cover off the back foot to get going, and showed familiar balance and footwork against Dockrell's left-arm spin. It took a precisely-pitched away swinger from Meschede to dislodge Clarke, although by then he had probably given his back enough of a work out.

Cowan, whose odds of playing in Nottingham were lengthened somewhat by the coach Darren Lehmann's declaration that Watson would definitely open, fell in the very first over of the morning when he was deemed to have touched a Gemaal Hussain delivery on its way through to the wicketkeeper Alex Barrow. The dismissal had Cowan pointing agitatedly towards his trouser or pocket, but whatever the merits of the decision it now means one less opportunity to make the runs that would shore up his place, which may need to be earned again to some extent under Lehmann.

Khawaja survived somewhat longer for his 27, but it was a scratchy effort with numerous angled deliveries troubling him outside off stump. He was struck on the body when trying to pull Overton, who was slippery, and fell in an unsurprising manner by wafting at Meschede to be pouched in the slips. Hughes had time to snick one streaky boundary before the morning session concluded.

Minus Watson, the afternoon's scoring was more sedate, but Clarke's lack of discomfort was a welcome sign that his back has settled, and Hughes worked the ball around effectively with only the occasional flirt through the slips. He remained a little more hesitant against spin, but at least managed to get off the strike every now and then, which represented progress from India. Like Watson, a fresh start may be about to do him some good.

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Meety on (June 28, 2013, 13:41 GMT)

@VivGilchrist on (June 28, 2013, 10:31 GMT) - mate, if it was that simple, everyone would play like Gilchrest. The fact is, its not like that at all. Watto can hit boundaries, it takes skill, most of his shots are pleasant (brutal), but the POINT is, there are many opportunities to play LOW RISK deflection etc that only yoeld a single, but IMPORTANTLY it gets you off strike, gives the other batsmen a sighter, & disrupts the bowler & captains plans. This of course ignores the fact that Watto often has brain fades when running a single.

Posted by   on (June 28, 2013, 12:18 GMT)

@PrasPunter, fair enough, but it's still just one innings. I think Ussie has 3 FC centuries in the last 2 years? Rogers has like 5 in the last 6 months, thats where its at, that is the standard that MUST be attained.

@Mitty2, why do people bag Cowan? Just one century from 30 odd innings, worse average than any of Watson, Warner and Hughes and doesn't hold all of his catches either. I like the idea of having an Ed Cowan in the team, but he has to score a few more centuries, average 40+ and hold his catches a little better. I think the poms will be warming their hands in readiness for a catch every time he gets to 30. You can go about Warner and Hughes 'flashiness' as much as you want but big aggressive centuries wins matches, gritty 30's just leave the first drop a bit twitchy at the lunch break.

Posted by   on (June 28, 2013, 11:11 GMT)

What would be good is if this team had not really an allrounder but a batsman who can bowl a bit, to keep the runs tight, Clarke would be great if not for his back, Watson becomes 5th bowler, but aside from those 5 someone like finch or hodge with tight off spin would be handy in there to use inbetween spells of the 4 cardinal bowlers. But the team is coming together well.

Posted by H_Z_O on (June 28, 2013, 10:54 GMT)

@Rowayton heh, I get what you mean, but Watson's never going to be that kind of player and would probably end up struggling if he tried to be. Think that's part of the reason for why he slumped when he moved down the order. He seemed to struggle to decide whether to attack or consolidate and in the end did neither.

Rodgers seems more naturally suited to that job and Cowan could be if he stopped gifting his wicket away once he's done the hard part. Think you're right about Trott, and that's where you guys are going to miss Huss. Both teams rely heavily on their captains but where Cook has Trott for support, Clarke no longer has Huss, who got overshadowed a bit during the SA series but was probably crucial to Clarke's run of form in that series.

I rate Anderson, Swann and Cook but Pattinson's a handful and will only get better, Lyon's a tidy spinner with guile and very young by spinner's standards, and Clarke's 1500 runs in 2012 at an average over 100 speaks for itself.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (June 28, 2013, 10:31 GMT)

@moppa and Meety, to score boundaries you need to find the the gaps. If you find the gaps but with not enough power you have to run. So what you would prefer is that he used less power in his shots so he has to run more?

Posted by Playfair on (June 28, 2013, 8:54 GMT)

Watson and Rogers would be a good opening choice. For me, the jury is still out on Cowen and Khwaja

Posted by   on (June 28, 2013, 8:48 GMT)

1. Rogers 2. Watson 3. Cowan/Khawaja( Cowan good rock for 3?) 4. Hughes(unless another batter comes along). 5. Clarke 6. Warner/Smith(If Smith plays and performsin next warmup, then him) 7. Haddin 8. Agar/Starc(depending if Pitch is Slow or Quick) 9. Pattinson 10. Lyon/Harris(same with pitch) 11. Bird Team is picking itself a bit more than when they went to India, kind of a good thing.

Posted by Moppa on (June 28, 2013, 8:47 GMT)

@Troy Merritt and @Dazako, agreed on Cowan. He has been solid if unspectacular. Eventually his lack of talent will mean that he is dropped but in the meantime he will do a decent job taking the shine off the ball. Flipside of this is that he doesn't have the shots to bat further down the order. Hence my preference for Cowan opening and Rogers at 3. For those suggesting Cowan at 3, I don't think he has the big innings pedigree for that role.

Posted by Moppa on (June 28, 2013, 8:15 GMT)

@VivGilchrist, no, I'm just making the point that he hasn't proven anything with this innings. I would have been impressed if he'd pushed on to 140, at least that his concentration has improved. I think @Meety makes a great point on Watson's dependence on boundaries, which is probably related to why he gets bogged down in the middle part of ODIs and generally when the ball is older and not coming on. @stuartk319, the 'bagging' regarding making 90 is that batsmen have to cash in and go on when they get set - this compensates for the inevitable failures. Watson's failure to convert starts is the main reason why his career average is 35 and not 45. However, since 1/1/2011 he has averaged 25 over 28 innings, including 10 innings over 30: 2 scores above 60, and 8 scores from 30 to 59. Watson has lost his earlier consistency, but retained his complete inability to convert starts!!! Incidentally, Warner's last 28 inns also include 10 scores over 30: 2 100s, 4 x 60-99, 4 x 30-59, average 40.

Posted by Meety on (June 28, 2013, 8:13 GMT)

@Chris_P on (June 27, 2013, 21:42 GMT) - I think IF Smith is given a chance before the 1st Test & does half decently, he will be given a spot. Not sure about Hughes, I would like him @#4 & Clarke @ #5, Smith #6, & Haddin #7. That would mean we have a fairly good middle order v spin. It would be the job of Watto/Cowan & Rogers to see off Anderson & co. I feel sorry for Khawaja - the useless domestic schedule has stalled his (& Doolan's progress) & they haven't seemed to get their groove back. So I think the side will be 1. Cowan, 2. Watson, 3. Rogers, 4. Hughes, 5. Clarke, 6. Smith, 7. Haddin, 8. Starc, 9. Siddle, 10. Pattinson, 11. Lyon. Hopefully Watto & Cowan will draw inspiration from 1989-vintage Taylor/Marsh & bat ALL DAY! C'mon Ozzy!

Posted by   on (June 28, 2013, 8:03 GMT)

@Mitty2, Our second best batsmen on the India tour averaged just 33.13 (one half century) in a 4 match series, which is equal with his 17-match career average of 32.90. He is reliable for a 33-run innings, is 'gritty' and team oriented, but that won't be good enough against England in the Ashes I'm afraid. Unfortunately, we have no one else in the squad to fill his position, unless Khawaja/Smith/Warner are given the nod over him - none of which deserve a Test cap based on recent performances. At the moment I am reluctantly warming up to the idea of including Faulkner in the XI because we honestly don't have much choice when it comes to batting. Predicted XI - 1. Watson 2. Cowan 3. Rogers 4. Hughes 5. Clarke 6. Haddin 7. Faulkner 8. Starc 9. Pattinson 10. Siddle 11. Lyon - Rogers needs to fill the Hussey void, and Hughes/Watson need to step up, otherwise this Ashes series will be a similar story to the India series.

Posted by Meety on (June 28, 2013, 8:00 GMT)

@jeauxx on (June 28, 2013, 2:55 GMT) - yes you are right, - I am not certain that he has turned the corner & IMO this is his last chance. I would rather gamble with players like Smith, Henriques, & Khawaja then Watto IF he fails in the 1st test or two.

Posted by TeamRocker on (June 28, 2013, 6:04 GMT)

Good to see some form from Watto. Hughes seems a good candidate for number 4, while I'd go with Khawaja or Cowan at no 3. Rogers and Watson have to open. Clarke at 3rd drop, followed by either Smith or Warner. If Australia can get the right team in for the first game, they could well cause some problems. I don't think Faulkner's suited to English conditions (especially in Tests). This is my team for the first test:

Watto, Rogers, Cowan/Khawaja, Hughes, Clarke, Smith/Warner, Haddin, Siddle/Starc, Pattinson, Bird/Harris, Lyon

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (June 28, 2013, 5:55 GMT)

Australia will only once score above 200 in the upcoming ashes series

Posted by   on (June 28, 2013, 5:45 GMT)

watson could do good to aus team by just opening the innings,cowan with recent form and being not able to survive the crease would be tough choice in the team,better to open with watson and warner as in the middle over warner could be disaster as swann is great against the left handers. Watson and warner can provide a great and quick start with c. rogers at 3 as he has been playing lot of cricket in english and with these opponents he would provide a stability with clarke at 4. 5 could be for hughes/cowan/khawaja one of them who could stay and play spin better.6 for haddin he would definitely score quick and 7 for faulkner he provides good stability to team,with 8 for starc,9 for siddle,10 for pattinson and 11 for lyon.

Posted by Mitty2 on (June 28, 2013, 5:35 GMT)

I still can't believe it. People questioning Cowan. He was quite clearly our best bat in India with Clarke and he showed patience, intelligence (adapted quickly) and grit, unlike any other batsmen - including an especially Shane Watson - who face less bowlers than our number 11. But of course, because Watson plays a few good shots in an inconsequential warm up match in the same innings that Cowan was given out erroneously... He must be a better bat! All the other reasons for why Watson is a squib I've already stated. Most pertinent of them, Cowan is team orientated, Watson is not.

Anyway, my XI would be: Cowan Watson (only because Lehmann assured him that spot - expect him to underperform as usual) Rogers Hughes Clarke smith (sorry usman + Warner) patto Harris bird Lyon. Siddle has dropped off the mark in the A Games and this game, and we all know of starc and his propensity to replicate a certain Mitchell Johnson.

Hopefully Hughes can push on - we need him now more than ever.

Posted by hotcric01 on (June 28, 2013, 5:27 GMT)

Watto's best place is as an opener.Anyway his style of batting may not be suitable for tests.But batsman at the other end can protect his end,with Watto's quick runs Australia can build a big opening partnership in a short time which will be a good foundation for a big innings.Chris Gayle or Virendra shewag's styles are also not suitable for test formats but they have done at least something for their teams. (Both have scored two triples)

Posted by BillyLightfoot on (June 28, 2013, 4:41 GMT)

I have been bagging out Watson for a while but he has always performed well as an opener to I guess it's hard to argue with putting him there - always making him feel loved and wanted will help. He certainly can punish an attack when in form alas that has not been seen for a long time...Also Great to see Phil Hughes hanging around - we really need him to do well as he can score big hundred (and probably is the only guy other than Clarke who can)... Maybe batting him at 5 is a good idea ala Ricky in his early days

Posted by Amith_S on (June 28, 2013, 4:27 GMT)

Boof has said Watto will open, the rest of the batting order will revolve around this.Rogers has made too many runs in England this summer to not be picked. Khawja got a run a ball 27 so the intent was there and i think he is our best option at 3, just needs half the chance that Hughes has had that position. Cowan needs runs - he has been in England all season so far and not got more than 80 (someone correct me if this is wrong).This is the top 3(Watson, Rogers, Khawaja), the order is moot really. Clarke at 4 is something i like as well. Warner cant be picked with no cricket.Hughes is a stroke player and too flaky to bat against Anderson with a new ball, he has to bat at least 2nd drop. Maybe at 6, and when he fails we can bring Warner in.These blokes have poor recent records, but if Boof can get some confidence going, we are a chance to at least not lose these games as soon as we start batting.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (June 28, 2013, 4:22 GMT)

Love the few folks who get on Khawaja's back after he has had one go at number 3 spot. What about the same love for Cowan who is averaging 30 after 20 tests. Khawaja will be a star for us in this ashes, just needs one good score to get him going and then watch his class. Also like watson at opener. Boof is making the correct moves and well done to him.

Posted by   on (June 28, 2013, 3:57 GMT)

rogers should take cowans place. he has better technique and great record in england

Posted by Shaggy076 on (June 28, 2013, 3:47 GMT)

I know its only a warm-up game but with this and the Australian A games we appear to have quite a few players starting to show some form. With a couple of warm up games to go we could give this a good shake. For what its worth my First test team is Watson, Rogers, Cowan/Khawaja/Warner , Clarke, Hughes, Smith, Haddin, Pattinson, Harris, Starc/Siddle, Lyon. Leaning towards Siddle over Starc as we need a work-horse, although Starc has the ability to rip quick wickets. As for the number 3 spot we will wait to see who grabs it Cowan and Khawaja have opportunities and if they dont grab it we default back to Warner.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (June 28, 2013, 3:45 GMT)

Yup, Watson back to his old self - unable to turn 50s into 100s, leaving Australia precariously balanced at 3/150ish and it's last two recognized batsmen at the crease. Maybe good enough for an all rounder but not for an opener.

If he keeps doing this in the Tests, it will cost us matches, as scores that could have been 400 plus, will only be 300 plus.

It must be exciting and motivating for the bowling team when he passes 50, knowing his dismissal is not too far off.

Of the 8 Tests he's played against England, he has yet to score a century, but has 7 scores over 50, and Australia only passed 310 in 2 of those innings.

Hopefully Rogers will make the centuries so Watson's 50s can be a bonus.

Posted by HatsforBats on (June 28, 2013, 3:31 GMT)

I've always been an advocate of Watson and believe he should be in the team, buy only if he's bowling as well. I couldn't care less about his century conversion rate or his less than useful out-fielding, if he keeps his average above 40 and is taking wickets at 30-odd I'm happy. But this innings is just more of the same from Watto and shows he still hasn't addressed his single running issue. We all know he can drive & cut boundaries all day, but turning over the strike from decent balls is a major weakness and is often his downfall once the ball is older and a defensive field is set.

Posted by   on (June 28, 2013, 3:11 GMT)

they have the making of a good team. and now an inspiring former player that seems like a good guy that the team would want to play for and impress. wish NZ would do something similar with there leadership group.

Posted by jeauxx on (June 28, 2013, 2:55 GMT)

@Meety: "Glad to see Watto finally score FC runs. He hasn't done that for so long & that is why he hasn't done well in Tests, - he has always been injured then rushed straight back into the test team with no form FC form behind him."

Keep in mind though, Watson looked great in the India series warm-ups with some 50s under his belt. I'm reserving my judgment for his top-level performance.

Posted by heathrf1974 on (June 28, 2013, 2:54 GMT)

Team for first test should be Watson, Cowan, Rogers, Clarke, Hughes, Smith, Haddin, Pattinson, Siddle, Harris, Lyon. Warner to be available for next test.

Posted by   on (June 28, 2013, 2:50 GMT)

Usman Khawaja has completely failed in the Australia A matches, and again here against Somerset. It would be bemusing if he is selected for the Ashes against actually quality bowling. But I suppose, what other options do we have? Steven Smith?

Posted by VivGilchrist on (June 28, 2013, 2:39 GMT)

@moppa, what are you on about? would you rather he scored a duck?

Posted by Rowayton on (June 28, 2013, 2:18 GMT)

Interesting comments H_Z_O. Mind you, as an Aussie, I don't want to see Watson score a blistering 90 in the Ashes. A boring 160 in 8 hours would be much better. Forget FFL's love affair with Anderson, Swann, Cook etc - I think on paper the big difference between the sides is Trott. If we had him at No 3 and England had Khawaja or Cowan, I reckon the differnce between the sides would be hardly noticeable. I think another big effect on the series will be whether Rogers turns out to be a good test cricketer or not. Unfortunately, I suspect the selectors have been right up to now.

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (June 28, 2013, 2:13 GMT)

I hope they are not trying to turn Hughes into a middle order batsman. He is an opener and perfectly suited to that role, 3 at the lowest. Khawaja has failed again, he's only made one decent FC score in 12 months. Rogers is experienced and could bat anywhere, 5 looks vacant. Smith/Warner at 6, Haddin 7. Faulkner hasn't even made a FC century, number 8 at the highest if he plays.

Posted by   on (June 28, 2013, 1:10 GMT)

@ Moppa, I agree, I think thats the best top 3 for the opening test. When Rogers was named, I didn't think he would open, I think he will be suited to first drop, or even at number 6. I don't see why Cowans place is still being questioned, he is never going to set the world on fire, but he is very solid, occupying an end and he shows application to play to the conditions. He was our second highest run scorer on the indian tour, and from what I've read was a bit unlucky in this innings here. I would think he will start at least the first two tests, although there will be pressure if he fails there. I don't see him down the order, I think he is suited as an opener.

Posted by Potatis on (June 28, 2013, 1:07 GMT)

Australia need to strive for consistency now. If Watson gets out for 3 in the next innings, and Cowan scores a good 50, we won't know a lot about the openers. Hughes may get a good 50+ score this innings, but hopefully he won't fall early in his next innings due to a rash shot. We won't know what's going to happen in the 1st test if this sort of thing happens. Having some consistent performances from all of the players will help settle the nerves a bit for the first test. I'm hoping to see some mental toughness from the Australian players, if they have that, they will have a good series. They were very soft in India.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (June 27, 2013, 23:59 GMT)

I see that Shane Watson has a new plan to prevent his getting injured: just don't run. 80 runs out of 90 in boundaries? Take a single mate! ;-)

Posted by Dazako on (June 27, 2013, 23:21 GMT)

No 3 spot usually goes to the sides best batsman, which is Clarke, however he is best at 5. Our 2nd best bat (formwise) is Rogers im sure he has the ability/confidence/experience to pull it off. Let Cowan open he hasnt done that bad of a job. Watson, Cowan, Rogers, Hughes, Clarke, Smith, Haddin, Siddle, Harris, Pattinson, Lyon. Let Warner earn his spot back and keep pressure to perform on Hughe/Smith/Cowan to keep their spots. Sadly Khawaja is out of form due to poor team management having not played much cricket since Dec.

Posted by xylo on (June 27, 2013, 23:12 GMT)

Oh wow! did the opposition's bowling lineup include Anderson, Finn and Swann?

Posted by   on (June 27, 2013, 22:42 GMT)

What happened to Voges and Bailey? They were easily Australia's best batsmen in the Champs Trophy. Is Australia so flushed with batting talent that they can neglect Aussie batsmen who are making runs against international bowling line-ups in English conditions. At least they deserve a chance. Surely.

Posted by milepost on (June 27, 2013, 22:39 GMT)

I'd still leave out Warner and Hughes. We need sound batsmen. It was great when we could throw caution to the wind and have a team full of aggressive, reliable batsmen with bowlers to back it up but that seems like the distant past. Pick the techniques and temperament to see off a swinging ball under cloudy skies, stop picking on potential. Where is Simon Katich? He's still the best opener in Australia and is proven at test level.

Posted by   on (June 27, 2013, 22:22 GMT)

what a turnaround for Eng-Aus series.Majority aussie posters over here and they seem very encouraged by their batsmen's showing.Beware bowling is nothing like what we saw in the warmup and may be even wicket will be tougher to bat on.Comparing Watto to Sir Viv is just outlandish!!!!on the flip side bowling seems to be the real thing(finall)because even after allowing 300 plus runs to scored for the loss of 2 wickets they wrapped up the innings under 325...

Posted by whoster on (June 27, 2013, 21:59 GMT)

Rogers should've been the obvious replacement for Katich 2-3 years ago, and I can't believe an opening batsman with his first-class record was virtually ignored. It's pretty desperate of the selectors to pick him again at 35, but he seems a much better option than Cowan, who's scored very few runs very slowly for a long time. Khawaja was given a stiff test by the pace of Overton today, and he's got a lot to prove. The dreadful state of the Aussie batting in recent times means they'll have no problem with Watson again failing to make a hundred - any decent score is an improvement on his recent record. Facing a reasonable county attack on a beautiful batting pitch is hardly evidence of a batting revival, though Clarke played well after so much time away. Can't see Hughes or Khawaja prospering against England when conditions are tougher, but they're hardly blessed with options. Anderson and Swann love bowling at left-handers, and the Aussies will be crammed with them - whoever they pick.

Posted by hhillbumper on (June 27, 2013, 21:57 GMT)

this is just more proof of how dominant the Aussies will be all summer.Be worried England this is the greatest team ever

Posted by Chris_P on (June 27, 2013, 21:42 GMT)

@Meety, agree with all this talk with Boof. His record will be better reviewed after 2 years when his input will be on show. I have been Watson's bigger supporters in the past, but I still can't help feeling he shouldn't be there. Given enough chances, anyone will deliver & his record for first class matches for the past 3 years makes dismal reading. Khawaja needs time in the middle, he is, I feel, one decent innings away from restoring that confidence he started with last season. Good to see Hughes apply himself, I think a pointer to where he is being considered in the test line-up. By default, if Cowan drops to #3, Khawaja looks like our #6 over Warner so that concerns me a little, he needs time in the middle. They may go with Khawaja as # 3, but that, to me anyway, is a big gamble.

Posted by   on (June 27, 2013, 21:40 GMT)

I bet the Aussies are a bit peeved that the best Australian in form right now in England is Phil Jaques!

Posted by usernames on (June 27, 2013, 21:33 GMT)

It's going to be tough for them to win the Ashes, of course, but a good team might be something like: Cowan, Watson, Rogers, Hughes, Clarke, Smith, Haddin, Siddle, Pattinson, Harris/Starc, Lyon.

Posted by kc69 on (June 27, 2013, 21:23 GMT)

Brad Haddin today proved that he is a better batsmen keeper for Aussies and can even be tried in ODI format over Matthew Wade and I seriously doubt the talent of Usman Khwaja...I don't know how many chances will he get and I didn't even see him perform a single time on international arena (especially outside Australia).Would have loved to see Steve smith as an batsman (and more than handy bowler) rather than anyone else trying again and again.

Posted by Moppa on (June 27, 2013, 21:13 GMT)

There is room for both Cowan and Rogers in the same line-up, whereas many here seem to be assuming its one or the other. I would predict from here Cowan, Watson, Rogers as the top three. Interesting that Clarke batted ahead of Hughes in this match, but with Khawaja's scratchy form (agreed @PrasPunter, but he just hasn't looked good for a while - oh, in fact since the BBL break in December/January!) it is mostly likely to be Hughes at 4, then Clarke and Warner for the middle order. @Mitty2, good point, I forgot about the India warm up game in the earlier post - another classic example of Watson promising and not delivering when it counts.

Posted by Meety on (June 27, 2013, 21:09 GMT)

Better day, i sort of cringe a bit when Lehman is given credit for the turn around. He has a honey-moon period (should be longer than Arthurs) & I think he will do a much better job. Glad to see Watto finally score FC runs. He hasn't done that for so long & that is why he hasn't done well in Tests, - he has always been injured then rushed straight back into the test team with no form FC form behind him. Watto is a confidence player & IF Lehman is whispering sweet nothings in his ear - he COULD have a big series. That has been said before. Not a good day in the office for Overton - but he is young with talent.

Posted by PrasPunter on (June 27, 2013, 20:04 GMT)

@Jono Makim, thats because Khawaja scored a brilliant century on a mine-field of a wicket in Hobart last season. Wondering why he couldn't help himself with a big score to seal the No 3 spot.

Posted by mixters on (June 27, 2013, 19:37 GMT)

Watson reminds me a little of Mark Waugh all the potential in the world to be one of the greats but never seems to live up to it. When on song he reminds me a bit of Viv Richards dominating the bowlers but alas he seems to find a way to get him self out at these times.

Posted by   on (June 27, 2013, 19:26 GMT)

@ jono makim, to be honest I don't see where all the faith in Khawaja comes from either, but I do have some sympathy for him, I believe the problem lies with the openers, either 1 or both of them depart early in a innings and expose number three to the new ball and Khawaja and Hughes I might add can not deal with the new ball. I've seen Hughes on numerous occasions struggle with the new ball even when he opened against south Africa and got his debut test hundred, he was so bad against the new ball, but he managed to stick it out and dug in deep, in my opinion Hughes should stick to coming in when the ball is a bit older, like today. Maybe Rodgers and Watson to open with Cowan coming in at three? Just my opinion.

Posted by   on (June 27, 2013, 18:40 GMT)

Was listening in on the live stream today from Taunton, seemed to me that Cowan was a little unlucky, Khawaja struggled badly and the rest seemed to go okay. So many people have so much faith in Khawaja, expecting him to play a big role in this series. I just can't see where this faith comes from. If Hughes can carry on tomorrow to a big score then I think he'll seal the no.3 spot. Good to see Clarke batting at no.4 today, I hope he stays there thoughout the Ashes and leaves 5 and 6 open for a couple of the younger guys to occupy, Smith being one of them.

Posted by Cricfever_PM on (June 27, 2013, 18:35 GMT)

Aus still has to find 3 or 4 batsmen and grow them for home ashes. They all young but only thing is they have to perform well!! Aus has to think of Eng 2005/06 ashes team where they won with all young guns. Hope before Clark leaves Aus would be competitive cricket side.

Posted by Jaffa79 on (June 27, 2013, 16:49 GMT)

Good to see Phil Hughes in the runs...he should play in the first Test

Posted by Humdingers on (June 27, 2013, 16:22 GMT)

They need to forget about practice games for Watson. He seems to do well in lead up games, but when it comes to crunch time, he rarely delivers! Just save him for the decider!

Posted by stickboy on (June 27, 2013, 15:34 GMT)

still don't get all the watson dislike from some people, when he's on song he can score big. He has done so in shield cricket. he's just choked on a few occasions when in 90s in Tests earlier on...and a bit unlucky from runouts, but getting there is still good enough. Even if he does score a fifty every couple of innings and gets big wickets which he often does, this is worth often an extra fifty or a hundred (if someone like cook or pieterson is dismissed). He is one of the best cutters, pullers and drivers in the team and if he defends well in The Ashes I have no doubt he can score decently as an opener. If Boof believes in him I think he will be more confident and convert 50s into 100s.

I think everyone would prefer Chris Rogers over Ed Cowan, it shouldn't even be a consideration.

Posted by MaruthuDelft on (June 27, 2013, 15:27 GMT)

A 90 before lunch must have been backed by ability. He is not tough; that is the problem. But if he gets a sort of that score in the first test then confidence can compensate for being short in toughness. It is still possible Watson plays the most important role in the outcome of the Investec Ashes.

Posted by H_Z_O on (June 27, 2013, 15:25 GMT)

Before the likes of FFL and co inevitably come on here and give England fans a bad name, banging on about how it's "only" Somerset and Anderson and Swann will eat the Aussies for breakfast, I'd like to say there's some good signs for Australia here. While Pattinson and Starc might have struggled up front, they came back strong to bowl Somerset out for 320 when they were 304-3. Yes, it's "only" Somerset but it's also "only" a warmup. Meanwhile Watson got a blistering 90 and Clarke got a solid 45 (mustn't forget he's just back from injury) and as I write Haddin and Hughes are both in the 40s. The warm-ups are really just about time in the middle, getting into rhythm, and it looks like both the bowlers and the batsmen are getting there. Could be a closer series than many are predicting. As an England fan I obviously fancy us to nick it, but I'm also carrying way too many war-wounds from series past to write off Australia just yet.

Posted by RandyOZ on (June 27, 2013, 14:26 GMT)

Why is Ed Cowan a protected species? How is he still in the team with pathetic performance after pathetic performance?

Posted by Big_Maxy_Walker on (June 27, 2013, 14:20 GMT)

@HansonKoch. Maddinson is an immature slogger with a lot to learn. Warner looks like Bill Lawry compared to him

Posted by pundit14 on (June 27, 2013, 13:59 GMT)

Meanwhile, Australia manage to put 240/4 in 50 overs. It's a different format and much worse bowling attack, mind you... but you do wonder about the selections and why they couldn't post better scores in the Champions Trophy.

Posted by Big_Maxy_Walker on (June 27, 2013, 13:55 GMT)

Start packing your bags Ed, Mr Rogers has just taken your spot. Watson and Rogers to open in Ashes

Posted by pundit14 on (June 27, 2013, 13:55 GMT)

Good knock for Clarke in his comeback, I really think if Clarke performs as expected, Watson & Haddin do at least as well as in the last Ashes, and Rogers plays the Hussey role well, Australia can post totals defendable for their ever improving bowlers. Whatever happens, I don't think Australia will suffer three innings defeats or more this time around.

Posted by Mitty2 on (June 27, 2013, 13:46 GMT)

@hmmmm... Considering that there was a stage in the Aus summer and the first innings if the (in my mind infamous) chennai test that he scored 5 fifties in a row... I wouldn't be saying that, especially when you're comparing it to Watson, who has scored 2 centuries in 7 years. Also it's a warm up game. Watson dominated the Indian warm up games and guess how his series went? Didn't Nathan Lyon - number 10/11 - face more bowls than him???

Agree 100% moppa, but he has a thousand more issues than just that.

@deanwsmith, actually based on Test ability everyone will score more than Watson. Based on form, everyone but usman would score more than Watson. Based on recent test form, I say again, everyone would score more than Watson. Also for the point of it, I'm of the belief that our three highest run scores will be Clarke, Hughes - I simply cannot take the idea that a batsman's technique being critical for test success - and rogers. Wait since when has watson had a good technique???

Posted by HansonKoch on (June 27, 2013, 13:40 GMT)

If playing on location is to mean anything then Cowan and Khawaja must be on the next plane home. Rogers and Maddinson should be pencilled in for the first Test. Otherwise, what's the point?

Posted by Deanwsmith on (June 27, 2013, 13:21 GMT)

As much as Australians hate to admit it, Watson (and Clarke) with be our top scorers for the Ashes. Watson has a good technique, and I have a feeling this will be the series he scores the runs he is capable of. Needs to show some ticker though when he gets to the 80s and 90s

Posted by Mitty2 on (June 27, 2013, 13:17 GMT)

Khawaja has always been weak at the angled deliveries, but at the SCG game he was credited for playing with 'soft hands' - from what i've seen of him in the shield last year, in the ODI's and the PM XI game, I certainly haven't seen that. Despite all his mistreatment, and his poor form is a cause of his mistreatment, his performances do not warrant selection.

Cowan does for his performances in India and his average of 40-45 in a somewhat stronger County. In India, there were three definite decisions that he was given out erroneously, and Cowan was the only one who batted intelligently and stoutly - including Clarke. Because of what Lehmann said about prima donna Watson - Cowan to partner him and Rogers at three. Funny isn't it... That Watson in all his selfishness denigrated and targeted Cowan for his position and ability, and yet they will likely be opening together at Notts!

Remember, Watson dominated the Indian warm up games; and yet in the tests did worse than lyon as a batsmen.

Posted by Moppa on (June 27, 2013, 13:16 GMT)

More of the same from Watto. Out just short of a hundred when dominating. Belting the ball around on a true pitch against seamers in a meaningless warm up game (like the CT warm up game a month ago, or a bit like his ODI return v WI in Canberra in February, which I had the privilege of seeing first hand). Still doesn't prove anything in terms of: seaming wickets, spinners or Test match success. And the point about hundreds is not to do with milestones. It's that the easiest runs to make in Test cricket are the ones between, say, 100 and 170. When you get to 80 or 90 you have to cash in and push on. If you get to 160 and double your score compared to an 80, that's a solid innings that one other batsman doesn't need to play. Critical when your whole line up is flaky.

Posted by hmmmmm... on (June 27, 2013, 13:16 GMT)

another 90 for watson...i guess i would rather that most games over 1 in 12 innings from warner!

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Daniel BrettigClose
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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