A successful international team needs a balanced batting order. Australia is missing one, and they will not return to the number one ranking until this is rectified.
The number three batsman is the backbone. For decades Australia has been lucky enough to choose from a wealth of batting talent to fill this vital position, until now.
Shane Watson is undoubtedly talented, however, to the detriment of the current Test team, he is being grossly misused.
Watson is most valuable as an all-rounder batting at six. His Test average of 38.37 is well below par in comparison to past Australian threes – Ricky Ponting (52.85), David Boon (45.84) and Ian Chappell (50.94).
If used solely as a batsman, he wouldn’t be in the XI. Watson’s last 10 innings average 30.4, having reached in excess of 39 five times, without scoring a hundred.
Younger batsmen Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja were both dropped for averages around 30 after a similar amount of innings. I feel Khawaja in particular didn’t get a proper chance.
Khawaja’s technically sound, occupies the crease and plays from a solid defensive base, yet he has been ostracised? Go figure.
The failure to convert 50s into 100s is Watson’s biggest weakness. Those who don’t convert underachieve. Ponting has a 66 percent successful conversion rate as oppose to Watson’s ll percent.
A three needs to be able to bat for three sessions. Batting past drinks in the second session would seem like an eternity for Watson. David Warner’s emergence to the Test arena further warrants Watson’s demotion. Each can be spectacular, however it’s simply too risky to have them both up the top.
Top batsmen score runs when the team needs them, but Watson doesn’t, averaging 36.1 in Tests where Australia lose.
Fluent yet flashy 50s don’t signal a class number three but mettle does – a trait Watson seems to omit. Batsmen don’t occupy the crease for fun’ a deep desire to not be dismissed burns inside them.
Once they get a start, the resolve to not play a loose shot is stronger than ever. Watson is yet to prove he is of the calibre of all-rounders Jacques Kallis or Sir Garfield Sobers and until doing so, he needs to be at six or seven.
Poor judgement equals bad decisions. Watson has been involved in eight of the 21 run outs occurred in his 33 Tests. Self-obsession dictates his batting. Last Ashes series he ran out Katich due to being more concerned about an LBW appeal lodged against him!
Stoppages in play are Watsons biggest downfall, be it the entire 2009 Ashes series where he was continually dismissed within minutes of a break or in Adelaide against the Windies in 2009 where he was 96* overnight. He was dismissed two balls later the next day.
However, his Test bowling average of 29.9, coupled with his safe hands in the slips, proves he is an asset to the team.
I have no doubt his value to the team but only because his ill disciplined batting is continually offset by his skillful bowling and new found ability to take the new ball with aplomb, shown in the recent second Test against the Windies.
His failure of conversion is a weakness of the mind. His all-round workload is hindering his performance batting at three to a degree whereby his concentration is shot.
The selectors cannot continue to waste this supreme talent, who is currently doing less damage to the opposition than the team’s balance.
With current batting stocks low and the impending retirement of both Ponting and Hussey, Australia needs Watson to reach his potential more than ever.