The Investec Ashes 2013 August 7, 2013

'I'm happy to bat anywhere' - Watson


Shane Watson has said he is happy for his role in the team to evolve and concedes he has not scored enough runs at the top of the order on this tour to lock himself into a permanent opening position. Watson started this Ashes series as an opening batsman who bowled a bit but as Geoffrey Boycott has noted, he might finish it as an opening bowler who bats a bit.

Watson's role changed in the second innings at Old Trafford, where he was demoted to No.4 as the Australians promoted David Warner in a bid for quick runs and stacked their middle order with right-handers in an effort to attack Graeme Swann. It is an order they may well use again in the fourth Test at Chester-le-Street and it could mean Watson's days as a Test opener are numbered.

On this trip, Watson has scored 13, 46, 30, 20 and 19 opening and, in every partnership with Chris Rogers, it has been Watson who has fallen first. He has worked on his propensity to be out lbw to the ball moving in, attempting to balance himself better as the ball is being delivered and have a smaller stride, but at Old Trafford it was an outside edge that ended his stay in the first innings and Watson knows he has not delivered as an opener.

"From my personal perspective, it's been a really disappointing three Test matches so far," Watson said. "To be able to get the starts and get the things going and then not be able to capitalise on that has been extremely annoying. I've been working hard on one thing in particular where the ball is seaming back to try and give myself the best chance of being able to get through a ball like that.

"It's probably been the first time really in my career that I feel like I'm actually batting well, but I'm not getting the results that I know I can get. Of course it's been extremely frustrating, especially batting with Chris, I've felt like we've been able to get a really good bond together opening the batting. But I haven't been out there long enough to be able to build a really big partnership together with him.

"I certainly do love opening the batting in all forms of the game. But even in the second innings I absolutely do understand the thought process behind it [moving down to No.4]. I also haven't scored the runs as an opener as well in these three Test matches to be able to continue to feel like I'm doing a competent job at the top of the order. In the end, I'm happy to bat anywhere, I'm happy to play anywhere to be part of an Australian team that is certainly moving forward."

It is now 12 innings since Watson has made a Test half-century, the most recent one coming against Sri Lanka at the MCG in last year's Boxing Day Test. But his bowling workload has increased and he has sent down 61 overs during the series, even sharing the new ball during the second innings at Lord's. He has dried up England's runs effectively and Watson said he was happy with his extra bowling load.

"To be able to take the new ball in the second innings at Lord's and come on pretty early, my role is probably changing a little bit," he said. "But any way I can try and evolve and try and contribute to the team is the most important thing for me. I am trying to take wickets by being patient but also trying to work the batsman over. One of the outcomes is to keep it really tight.

"I'm not sure that opening the batting and bowling 20 overs in a day would be possible. If that was what the team wanted me to do I would do it to the best of my ability. The way my body is continuing to go and the way I am bowling at the moment I feel that is not too far away. Michael [Clarke] has been looking after me in the three Tests by not bowling me at certain times when we are about to go in to bat again. The way he has been looking after me has been excellent."

It has not only been a difficult tour for Watson on the field with the bat; the revelations in Mickey Arthur's legal documents that Michael Clarke had called Watson "a cancer" on the team and that there was "major tension" between the two men emerged at an awkward time as the battle for the urn heated up. Watson made no denials and said that there had been times when things became difficult off the field, but that Darren Lehmann's appointment as coach had helped.

"It didn't particularly worry me too much," Watson said of the leaking of Arthur's documents. "It's something that's happened in the past ... things that were in and around the team through that period of time of about a year certainly weren't that great but as I said this is an exciting time for me in my cricket career to be able to have Darren Lehmann doing an amazing job of bringing everyone together.

"For me this is the most enjoyable time I've had within the Australian team for a long, long time, so those things ... if things hadn't evolved the way they had within the team then it probably would have affected me more but how excited I am about being involved in the Australian cricket team at this point in time that's all in the past and we're all moving forward."

Watson said the tour of India this year, which included his suspension for one Test over the homework saga, was a low point of his career and he had contemplated his future. However, he said with Lehmann in charge he was no longer thinking in such a way.

"How he coaches is how he played the game, to make sure you really enjoy the game," Watson said of Lehmann. "He played with freedom. I always admired the way Darren did play the game. He got the most out of his talent and was always extremely exciting to watch. He always made the game go forward the way he played. That's how he saw the game and that's how he is as a coach and that's how I am as well I suppose.

"That's the cricket environment I got brought up with when I first started around the Australian squad. It drifted a little bit for a period of time but we've certainly got that back again now that Darren has taken over. People feel like they're instilled with a lot more freedom to be able to go out there and express themselves and have fun doing it."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JIGNESH on August 14, 2013, 23:31 GMT

    You of course happy to bat anywhere, but according to your statistics you cannot play test cricket anymore. Look at how does perform the new talents - C Rogers and S. Smith. AUS should kick him out and give a chance to new talents otherwise AUS would lose the every game. No one should hang there for their century old performance. India kicked out Sehwag and gave a chance to Shikhar Dhavan and look at his performance in every game. India could rise again.

  • disco on August 12, 2013, 5:54 GMT

    I'd also be happy for Watto to bat anywhere. Anywhere but the Test team that is. Another soft tissue injury after a decent bowling spell, means that he is a liability if picked as a bowler and his batting is not good enough on its own. Time to call time on his Test career.

  • omair on August 9, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    Watson has scored 13, 46, 30, 20 and 19 .But his bowling workload has increased thats why the batting collapse of watson .The main reason is bowling a lot. i think no 4 is good for him.and other bowlers take burden out of him

  • Charles on August 9, 2013, 12:49 GMT

    Shane Watson is definitely worth persevering with. He is a perfect number six. A strong striker and a very tight, reliable bowler.

  • John on August 9, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    Watson should be happy to bat anywhere. Given his record, he should be happy to bat at all.

  • Siva on August 9, 2013, 6:25 GMT

    Watson, the fuss maker. 7+ years since debut and neither Australia or Watson himself know what is expected out of him.

    Firstly he says he won't bowl at all, a few series later when he hasn't contributed enough with bat he says he will do bowling for the sake of the team's balance, and before long he figures that he cannot still contribute with the bat and opine that he's best at the opening slot & finally seeing that nothing is working out he is ready to turn the burden on the management to figure where he should bat.

    It should always have been Katich in his place. And Clarke is the one responsible for this mess, for not giving Katich his chance.

  • Dummy4 on August 9, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    It is a joke that Watson is still in the team. He has been selected as a batsman and his bowling os only an extra. As a test batsman, his last 50 was in December and before that April, 2012. Even his fielding in the last test was poor. Cowan, Khawaja and Hughes have all performed better in the same time frame. He must have something special on someone to keep getting selected when he has no form.

  • Dummy4 on August 9, 2013, 6:00 GMT

    watson is not seeming to be in the form in bating . but he is bowling well . heshould concentrate on batting or else to lose position in team. being a big fan of watto iam praying to god to make watto to perform well.

  • Mark on August 9, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    The problem with S.Watson is He's never able to bowl enough to take the pressure off of His batting. He must have so much scar tissue, I'm amazed He is still going into this next game Fit!! If He can continue to work extra hard on His body & Flexibility, at His pace, He should be able to stay healthy. You just could not be planning a future Aussie team with Him in it! Currently with the amount He bowls He is definetly a batting all-rounder, who, with His batting form, should not be picked in the next game!

  • Tasi on August 9, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    Watson should go. Batting anywhere really means he doesn't deserve a spot in the team. His selection shows the fixation the selectors have for him to be an all rounder, yet they persist on having him opening. Drop him down the order, and he can then focus on being an all rounder. He is not an opener, as his results speaks for itself.Put a proper opener in his place, and I don't mean David Warner who is also lucky to have a spot in the team. Rogers and Cowan to open, both specialist openers and build from there. Forget about the fast starts that the team always seems to hope for when Warner and Watson are opening.