The Investec Ashes 2013

Watson works on lbw woes with Clarke

Brydon Coverdale

August 18, 2013

Comments: 40 | Text size: A | A

Shane Watson lasted less than seven overs in the second innings, England v Australia, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's, 4th day, July 21, 2013
Shane Watson has been dismissed lbw four times during this Ashes © Getty Images
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Shane Watson hopes that a batting masterclass with the captain Michael Clarke, and the absence of his tormentor Tim Bresnan, will help him overcome his lbw issues in the final Test at The Oval. Australia's lacklustre batting effort during the tour match against England Lions may influence the selectors ahead of the final Test, but the Australians hope that what happened off field might have just as much impact as they search for ways to prevent another Test capitulation.

On the eve of the Northampton game, Watson spent a long session in the nets facing throwdowns from the official batting coach Michael di Venuto, while Clarke served as an unofficial mentor and yelled advice from the other end of the pitch. The goal was clear - to find a way for Watson to play as close as possible to his natural game while preventing a dismissal that comes equally naturally, the walking-across-his-stumps-lbw that has brought his downfall four times in this series.

"I've been having a chat to Michael over the last week especially about the way that I'm getting out, lbw at the moment," Watson said after the Northampton match. "I'm getting a lot of different information about the ways that I can try to get that right. Michael just more so jogged my memory of a few things that I was doing a couple of years ago, more so with Greg Chappell, and making sure I was taking it back to the basics and having someone throw the ball slowly and making sure I was getting myself in the right position.

"Michael's advice has been excellent. He has been through a similar thing at some stage in his career. It's good to be able to get his advice. He's certainly one of the best players in the world and has been for the last couple of years. He has been through all those different challenges throughout his Test career, so it's nice to be able to get his advice."

Watson and Clarke have not always seen eye to eye in the Australian camp - former coach Mickey Arthur's leaked legal documents certainly confirmed those reports - but both men insist they work together well, and a smoothly-running Watson in the middle order would be of significant benefit to the team's hopes. Watson showed some good signs in the first innings at Chester-le-Street, when he supported Chris Rogers with 68, but another lbw in the chase added to his trouble.

The good news for Watson is that Bresnan has been ruled out of the final Test due to a back injury, and while both James Anderson and Stuart Broad have also trapped Watson lbw once each in this series, Bresnan has done it twice. It was Bresnan who did the job in the second innings of the fourth Test and Watson knows that even in the absence of Bresnan, he must find a balance between playing his natural game and planting his front foot too much.

"I let myself down in the second innings to get out that way again," Watson said. "I know how they will attack me. Bresnan is the one who has given me the most trouble with that angle and unfortunately for him, but fortunately for me, he won't be playing. He has bowled nicely and done a great job."

Watson had hoped to put some of his training into practice during the tour match against the England Lions but he found himself largely facing the left-arm spin of Simon Kerrigan, against whom he clubbed 36 of his 45 runs. He was out hooking James Harris to fine leg, which denied him the chance to work on his technique more against the fast men.

"Mainly [my aim] was to try and face some quicks to work on a technical thing that I've been working on, getting my front leg out of the way more than anything, or getting my bat in the way," Watson said. "It wasn't too much of a practice against that today unfortunately. But being down here and being able to do a lot of work on that in the nets alone, I have got a lot out of these last few days anyway."

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

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Posted by ScottStevo on (August 22, 2013, 13:58 GMT)

@FFL, large rings Anderson is running, mate, all round the oval chasing leather. @hhillbumper & @Tommytuckersaffa, two of the least likely candidtates for analyst of the year with their complete lack of cricketing knowledge. Why would Aus go after an Andrew Flintoff??? The guy averaged over 30 with the ball and less with the bat! He may have been inspirational in a team devoid of any talent, but he would hardly last two games in an Aus side the way we shuffle players around...@JAH123, you really haven't got a clue about Watson whatsoever, mate. He's actually done very well for us as opener and did average around 41 before this series there (not sure of his avg now). Since his injury around 2 years ago we promoted Cowan to the top and have shuffled Watson ever since. With that, plus an obvious fallout with ignorant Arthur, it's no wonder his scores have been pathetic. We need Watson, as I agree with you, faulkner isn't good enough with the bat and Henriques isn't good enough period...

Posted by JAH123 on (August 20, 2013, 0:23 GMT)

@ jmcilhinney - That's exactly my point - Watson is NOT a front-line test batsman. He has been played in that role because Australia are lacking batting depth but he has all the hallmarks of a genuine allrounder. Let him bat at 6 or 7 so he can come in and support a set batsman (like he did with Rogers at Durham) or bat with the tail. If he had played his whole career in that role then the general public might have a very different view of his test cricketing ability right now.

Posted by Charlie101 on (August 19, 2013, 10:15 GMT)

Watson is hitting too many easy runs in T20 and the IPL and his technique has suffered. If he is serious about his test career he should take a sabatical from IPL 2014 . I doubt he will do this so he will eventually be dropped as the technical problem will not be sorted .

Posted by ravi_hari on (August 19, 2013, 9:16 GMT)

A close look at every aspect of him Watson gives the impression of a champ. He is tall, strong, has a quick eye, can play on any surface, can bat in any format, can bowl with the new or old ball, good slip fielder, et al. He is the perfect man to have in the team. However, he does not perform to that billing. What could be the reason? Only Watson can answer if he knows about it. As a spectator, I feel Watson comes on to bat with an intention to do well. Once he strikes a couple of boundaries thinks he is in fine nick and tries to smash every ball to the fence. He tries to play the same shots against all bowlers. And more often than not departs early disappointed. I think he should start respecting each bowler. He should spend time facing each bowler as he comes on in each spell. He should attempt to dominate only after he gauges the bowler correctly. You cannot take the same medicine for all ailments Shane! His bowling is a huge bonus and on helpful tracks can run through a side.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 19, 2013, 8:30 GMT)

@JAH123 on (August 18, 2013, 23:35 GMT), but Bairstow is over 8 years Watson's junior and played over 30 fewer Tests while Watson only has a slightly better average. If Bairstow is still averaging mid 30s at Watson's age then he will have been discarded long since. Of course, Watson's bowling is a big plus and England would love a fifth bowler like him. If Chris Woakes, Ben Stokes or the like can bowl as well as Watson and average 35 at #7 then England may well be happy but they wouldn't accept it from a front-line batsman. Interestingly, Watson has a better batting average than Ian Botham. Again though, Botham batted #7 and had a better bowling average than Watson though. He also won games with the bat single-handedly, which Watson has never really done.

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (August 19, 2013, 6:48 GMT)

Watson has not played his best this series. or for many series to be honest ! His batting against the Lion's I have no problem with however.

Kerrigan is in the English squad, the Oval always taken spin. Taking him down was seriously important ? Sad the others didn't ! There's always another game to play against "that guy" . Establishing how it will normally go is to me basic cricket !

Posted by   on (August 19, 2013, 6:43 GMT)

It seems most of the comments here (as per usual) show much more intelligence and common sense than the Australian selectors. This series was supposed to be Watson's last chance saloon, as if the selectors still had faith in him coming good, because the last two years has not provided enough evidence of his ineptness. The entire English team must be having a right old chuckle to themselves. But it's ok, our saviour is having a masterclass, so he is sure to make a good score sometime within the next 6 months.

Posted by   on (August 19, 2013, 6:37 GMT)

Watson's primary problem is simple: he thinks like an allrounder. That means he feels, at some level, his batting job is done when he passes fifty. That, not his fallibility to falling LBW, is his main problem.

Posted by skilebow on (August 19, 2013, 5:25 GMT)

As a Pom I hope he is in the Australian Test team for many years to come!

Posted by Unmesh_cric on (August 19, 2013, 4:31 GMT)

@Mitty2, that's pretty amusing description of how Watson has gone about in this series...enjoyed reading it.

Posted by ReverseSweepIndia on (August 19, 2013, 4:11 GMT)

They should not play Watson this test. If he somehow made a quickfire 80-90 (yep, still can't convert into 100s), Aus supporters may have to suffer more, because he still will keep getting selected based on this performance. And almost every team has such player who for reasons unknowns get keep selected in playing XI. We have Ishant, who is surviving on THAT spell to Ponting and we know how much it hurts.

Posted by Gurudumu on (August 19, 2013, 3:30 GMT)

Henriques doesn't have the technique nor temperament for Test cricket. I would back Faulkner to do well - he's shown that he can get runs even on the green pitches of Tasmania. And, as S Waugh would have said, he's got the 'mongrel' in him. On another note, I still think if Watson can overcome the demons whispering in his ear and develop self-confidence and belief, he can still be a good batsman.

Posted by   on (August 19, 2013, 3:08 GMT)

A lot being made of Watto but he remains Oz 3rd highest runs contributor in the series (216) plus he has a couple of wkts

Posted by Chris_P on (August 19, 2013, 2:02 GMT)

@Mitty2. Let's hope your'e right. I am still stunned by the dream run he has had these past couple of years with ordinary returns and pitiful efforts in first class games. He isn't even contributing in 50 over games (not that this should be any barometer for test selection), as it appears T20 mentality has completely taken over.

Posted by OneEyedAussie on (August 19, 2013, 2:00 GMT)

In a team with a few better batsmen Watson would be a great player to have. He could come in at 5/6 down with 200+ on the board and play with freedom for a quick 50 or so - then back up with the ball for a few tight spells and a wicket or 2. In other words, he was great when we had Hussey and Ponting in the team, but now the weaknesses of his batting are gaining more attention. Of course, Watson hasn't really helped himself with his "I don't want to bowl, I'm an opening batsmen - oh, wait I'm a bowler too!" back flipping and his seemingly endless trail of confusing media statements.

Agree with most of the previous posts that if Watson can't bowl, don't pick him. I don't think Faulkner could do worse - he is a talented cricketer and perhaps has more desire to prove himself at test level than Watson.

Posted by somethingdifferent on (August 19, 2013, 1:01 GMT)

It is true that Watson was a great prospect some time back but have failed to deliver specially as a batsman for the last couple of years and is still in the team primarily due to lack of options and due to hesitance on part of CA to drop a big name like him and select / experiment with new faces. Unfortunately people like Watson and Chris Gayle do wonders when playing various leagues like IPL but fail to reach the same level of excellence when they play for their country.

Posted by JAH123 on (August 19, 2013, 0:35 GMT)

The problem was never with selecting Watson for this series; it was opening with him. He is simply not an opening batsman. He is an allrounder who should bat at 6 or 7, where you can get away with a technical flaw or two. Of course he said he wants to open, because all batsmen want to bat up the order. Aus should never have treated him as beng any different to someone like Andrew Symonds. Symmo never would have worked at 1-4 in the batting lineup bacause he didn't have the technique to face the swinging/seaming ball, especially when the bowlers were fresh, but he could monster tired bowlers down the order. Bottom line: if Watto isn't fit to bowl then he shouldn't play. But suggesting that Henriques or Faulkner are better allrounders is laughable. Faulkner is probably a better bowler but he isn't a test 6 or 7, while Henriques is no more technically proficient than Watson. And to the Poms bagging him: do you think Bairstow would get a game at 6 if Eng could pick Watson? Please.

Posted by popcorn on (August 19, 2013, 0:28 GMT)

This is no excuse for Watson. EVERY BOWLER NOW KNOWS that he plonks his big fron foot in front, and thst he is a candidate for lbw. I thought Greg Chappell had corrected this defect st the COE.I suggest he takes a leg stump gusrd.

Posted by MinusZero on (August 19, 2013, 0:23 GMT)

Watson should have retired from tests long ago. Note to selectors: HE ISNT A TEST PLAYER. He is far better at the shorter game. Why he has been allowed more than two years of inadequate scores is beyond me. Why does Hughes get dropped after a few games and told to go back to first class cricket and yet not Watson? There is a shady back door deal i think. Enough already.

Posted by disco_bob on (August 18, 2013, 23:55 GMT)

When Watto plays a decent, purposeful innings, you know it's just a blip.

Posted by RJHB on (August 18, 2013, 23:35 GMT)

Yeah Watson, cos Bresnan is a scary world beater isn't he?!! Pathetic. You would not have survived in the 80s pal, when the Windies and others had exceedingly mediocre cricketers such as yourself and Bresnan for breakfast, lunch and dinner!!

Posted by   on (August 18, 2013, 23:23 GMT)

Enough of this...He's played 44 tests! How many chances does he get? If you want to pick an allrounder for his bowling surely Faulkner is the best bowling allrounder in the country! And he is tough to get out, he values his wicket as can be seen by his shear number of not outs batting 6-8 in the tour games... Personally 6 batsman is the way to go.. If Clarke really wants a 5th option Smith has developed a knack or taking Wickets.... And when did Siddle become Johnson and not take the new ball?

Posted by   on (August 18, 2013, 23:14 GMT)

A bit late now, innit? His downfall in the 2nd innings at Durham was a disgrace. He was the last bastion against our demise... and he threw the leg out..... again. Should lose his place for that alone.

Posted by TomPrice on (August 18, 2013, 20:52 GMT)

This has been happening for years. No Bresnan no difference - it's not as if he is the only bowler to have figured this out.

Posted by oval77 on (August 18, 2013, 20:28 GMT)

Extraordinary statement from an increasingly incoherent player. It's stuff like this that makes you understand a bit more Clarke's branding him a "cancer" in the dressing room. Anyway, Australia - please keep picking him!

Posted by NixNixon on (August 18, 2013, 19:57 GMT)

I dont mean to be rude, but watson is seriously overhyped! we keep hearing how a great player he is and how much talent he has. Just face it , this guy is not as good as you think. In t20 he bullies attacks and his bowling is handy. At test level its different and tests seperate the boys from the men. so far watson is a another player who has benefited from t20 which always makes a average player look good. Aus can keep picking him, but he will never be known as a great player.

Posted by jlw74 on (August 18, 2013, 19:38 GMT)

Couldn't agree more with the sentiments expressed. I think he will play at the Oval but that will be it at test level. I've grown weary of supporting him and listening to his this time, this time rumblings. He is not in the best 6 batsman in the country and at test level is a liability. For those talking up Henriques he's not in the best 6 either. Australia should abandon the "must play" an all rounder route it is as tiring as the old obsession with playing a left arm quick. Lets just pick an XI and stick with it for the home series and Sth Africa and if its unrecognisable to the side that plays at the Oval then so be it. A rebuild can not begin until the dead wood is cleared out.

Posted by hhillbumper on (August 18, 2013, 16:37 GMT)

Please pick him.I love what he brings to the team and each time I see him you can watch the mystique of the Baggy Green imploding before your eyes.Perhaps the best summation of how bad Aus cricket has got is that they allowed him to captain. Ditch Watson and you might find you go forwards.He was touted as the Aussie Flintoff.He is not even the AUssie Ealham. That is a bit harsh on Mark Ealham though

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (August 18, 2013, 15:53 GMT)

I am astounded that Oz selectors still havent dawned on the fact that Watson is not Test Match material. Amazing ODI and T20 player with excellent record but Test match cricket is too much of an examination on his batting for him. Thats what i love about test cricket, its a real assessment on your technique and ability. Flaws are far more easily masked in shorter versions of the game.

I hope he is one the Tour to SA next year though...

Posted by DylanBrah on (August 18, 2013, 15:41 GMT)

This tour has been a complete disaster from Australia's perspective. None of our young batsmen have stood up, our only find of the tour was old man Rogers, who we all knew was good anyway. Agar was blooded far too early, and looks to have lost all confidence... Pattinson still has injury problems. Watto has failed at opening. Ughh.. a long summer ahead.

Posted by AncientAstronaut on (August 18, 2013, 15:33 GMT)

An Australian batsman is glad that an English bowler won't be playing. The times they've changed so much, it's difficult to believe! As bad as Australia's batting reserve is, it will be for the best if they drop Watson. With the series lost, they can afford to try someone else.

Posted by   on (August 18, 2013, 15:02 GMT)

Have to agree with Mitty2 Watson will always have an excuse and it will get better next time but when next time comes another excuse and another next time. AC and selectors have to realise enough is enough evenif he is considered the chosen one and he makes every excuse under the summer sun he has to go from the test team. ODI and 20/twenty is where he belings now. Even in the just finished 2 day game where he has ample opportunity to score a dedicated and thoughtful innings he batted like it was a ODI. This is not preperation for the upcoming test. However knowing the selectors they will think WOW he scored a great 40 odd. No No No!!! Wake up selectors! Give Faulkner or Henriques a run now in this dead test rubber they may a least value their selection and try to produce a result for the team rather than themselves.

Posted by heathrf1974 on (August 18, 2013, 14:51 GMT)

Watson should only be picked if he is fit to bowl. He is an allrounder and should be treated as such.

Posted by   on (August 18, 2013, 14:31 GMT)

Henriques better allrounder than watson and he performed well in the chance he got against india in testing conditions..

Posted by   on (August 18, 2013, 13:37 GMT)

Get rid off him from Test level

Posted by Mitty2 on (August 18, 2013, 13:33 GMT)

Love those moments when you agree with @FFL. This will be the last time we will ever see Shane Watson play tests... Yay! You'd think after India he wouldn't even be allowed to play ODI's after that disgrace.

Just love is interviews and the circles he goes in. Before the series, he's feeling as confident as ever with his batting. First test, gets plumb LBW in the last innings, it's an aberration and he still thinks he's in career best batting form. Second test with his ignorance he abandons caution on his shocking technique and gets plumb LBW both innings. He gets criticised, and says it's just a minor blip and he can overcome it with ease (even though he's the one with the most relative LBW's as a mode of dismissal in test history). Third test he forgets to how to score runs at all, but it's ignored because the team played well and he bowled economically. Escapes attention. Fourth test, it all comes back! Gets injured, and gets LBW. But, no, it'll be THIS time things will change.

Posted by Robert1612 on (August 18, 2013, 13:19 GMT)

Surely the only way Watson can be even considered for the final test is if he is fit to bowl. At least then he can tie up an end, and if Australia get lucky he might even get a wicket or two! If he can't bowl, give Faulkner his debut .. at least he will be a genuine bowling option and pretty sure he will be good for the 20-30 runs an innings that you can expect from Watson. That would mean Haddin at 6 and Faulkner 7, followed by ?? Agar or Starc. It would seem from the two day game that Hughes is back in favour?? and will bat 3 in the final test. As an Aussie supporter all we can hope for is winning the toss and batting well without scoreboard pressure, but then again pigs may fly over the Oval next week!! We live in hope of a batting miracle (OT surely can't have been a one off) and fine weather for 5 days.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (August 18, 2013, 12:40 GMT)

Bresnan and Anderson just run rings around Watson, as has been the case for years. Jimmy may be burnt out, but there's anohter English bowler waiting in line just to play the same trick on Watson for the thousandth time. England won't mind one bit.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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