Watson could move back to Test opener

By Ben Horne,

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    Ed Cowan’s position in the Australian Test team is on shaky ground after the selectors revealed they’ll consider moving Shane Watson back to opener.

    Injury-prone vice-captain Watson has given up his allrounder status, declaring he wants to be considered as a batsman only.

    Watson was only moved down from the top of the order to help manage his workload, but now he won’t bowl there’s nothing stopping him from slotting back into his best position at opener against India next month and England in July.

    Australian coach Mickey Arthur acknowledged that was a genuine possibility while also revealing in the aftermath of the series win over Sri Lanka that Brad Haddin would definitely go on the Ashes tour as a back-up wicketkeeper.

    “If he (Watson) is not bowling it’s worth the consideration,” said Arthur. “It will certainly be worth the chat.

    “I still maintain that I felt No.4 was a really good fit but that was (with) Shane Watson bowling some overs as well.

    “Watto wants to come back as a batsman. He feels every time he bats and then gets injured bowling, he loses a bit of momentum with his batting.

    “Maybe he does (open again), maybe he doesn’t, but it’s probably too early to even discuss it.”

    Despite a century to begin the summer against South Africa in Brisbane, Cowan is now on thin ice, averaging just 32.81 from 13 Tests.

    The Tasmanian looked out of sorts in his two innings against Sri Lanka in Sydney and has missed too many opportunities to cash in on good pitches.

    On the other hand, Watson averages 43.67 as an opener, far better than he fares elsewhere in the order.

    Cowan is unlucky that domestic scheduling robs him of a chance to find decent first-class form and press his case before the team departs for India in early February.

    Tasmania don’t play their next Sheffield Shield game until February 6 and as a longer-form specialist Cowan won’t play in the ODI series.

    The decision to stop Watson bowling for at least the foreseeable future means Australia is also on the lookout for their next allrounder.

    “We want an allrounder all the time. I think that’s quite important for us,” said Arthur.

    Spinner and lower order hitter Glenn Maxwell, who was 12th man at the SCG, is a near-certainty for India. Batting option David Hussey also bowls useful off-spin.

    Paceman Mitchell Johnson is now also considered to be of allrounder quality by selectors, although the balance of the team in the third Test in Sydney with five bowlers was debatable.

    Other allrounder options like Moises Henriques and Dan Christian weren’t picked for the first two ODI matches.

    Meanwhile, Australia will give an Ashes recall to 35-year-old Haddin and will also consider taking the NSW gloveman to India as shadow for No.1 Matt Wade and as another middle-order batting option following his return for the ODI team.

    “We’ve looked at a full group of 20-21 players (including Haddin) that needs to be cut down to take to India,” Arthur said.

    “Whether we take two keepers I’m not sure. I do know we’ll be taking two keepers to the Ashes in England.

    “It’s important we know who our second keeper is and he’s comfortable knowing exactly where he stands as well.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (43)

    • January 8th 2013 @ 4:16am
      jack said | January 8th 2013 @ 4:16am | ! Report

      i can sense something fishy with coach n captain when they say “We’re lucky in that I think Watto can bat anywhere from Nos.1-6 in our order and has had some success there. He’ll still be opening in one-day cricket. And who knows, maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t but again it’s probably too early to even discuss it.”
      but watson is a man. he’ll come back as opener very soon. coach, captain, selectors can plan all they want to keep him down the order. but nobody can stop him from retaining his place (dominating opener n destroyer). it’ll happen soon

    • January 8th 2013 @ 7:21am
      Robie said | January 8th 2013 @ 7:21am | ! Report

      I think Watson should open with Warner. If hes not gonna bowl then we gotta get him back to where hes had his most success. I dont think Cowan has done enough to secure his spot. Warner has only played two more test than him and you can see the potential there, he looks like hell play 100 tests in a row. I like what i have seen of Khawaja, very technically sound, got most of his runs on green decks this year and a player who scores under pressure. I liked the five bowling option aswell especially coz our young quicks are probably our biggest asset at the moment and theyre all pretty good with the bat. You need to take 20 wickets to win a test match (well less if you keep sendin them to the hospital like we did at the G) and four quicks and a spinner, I guess Lyon, will give us a better chance of doing that.My team would be Warner, Watson ,Hughes, Clarke, Khawaja, Wade, Johnson, Siddle, Pattinson, Starc, Lyon looks pretty good to me.

      • January 8th 2013 @ 10:16am
        saad said | January 8th 2013 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        Robie, Cowan is doing well. He made a century against number one South Africa. He might be successful in sub-continent. So I think he deserves a place in team.

        • January 8th 2013 @ 11:43am
          jameswm said | January 8th 2013 @ 11:43am | ! Report

          A century and a binch of dud scores against both SA and SL.

          I think if Watson doesn’t bowl, he takes Cowan’s opening spot. If he’s bowling, Watson bats at 6. There’s the conundrum.

          • January 8th 2013 @ 12:42pm
            Rob Barrow said | January 8th 2013 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

            I think the problem with Cowan is that at 31 with an average in the 30s in boht shield and International he is not going to improve much. He looks out of his depth and is always trying to talk himself up. I thought he would get it right in the Sri Lankan series but failure against such a weak attack was not acceptable, get Watson to open and Khawaja in at 4 and Ferguson at 6.

    • January 8th 2013 @ 7:38am
      WW said | January 8th 2013 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      its a no brainer.

      Watson must be in the test side if fit.

      • January 8th 2013 @ 9:04am
        Lukeling said | January 8th 2013 @ 9:04am | ! Report

        That is one of the many problems with Watson. At any moment he can go down in a crumbling heap, I don’t think that can all be just because of bowling. It would make the team very unstable if you have to keep bringing in a replacement for Watson every 3 or 4 tests if he was the opener.

        • January 8th 2013 @ 9:50am
          WW said | January 8th 2013 @ 9:50am | ! Report

          unstable…. a little much to suggest players can’t handle playing with a different player until one recovers from injury

          • January 8th 2013 @ 10:21am
            Red Kev said | January 8th 2013 @ 10:21am | ! Report

            Because it isn’t injury cover for 2 matches for Clarke’s hamstring it is more than 50% of tests that Watson misses and disrupting an opening partnership continually like that is ludicrous.

            • January 8th 2013 @ 10:33am
              WW said | January 8th 2013 @ 10:33am | ! Report

              you keep stating 50% of tests. Watson made his debut in 2005 but didn’t secure a place in the side until 2009-2010. a lot of the missed test matches was when he was on the periphery of a side that had had a lot more talent than the current one so his missing so many tests since his debut as you’ve posted is misleading.

              bowlers get injured though mate. deal with it.

              who mentioned clarke?

              • January 8th 2013 @ 12:38pm
                Craig2 said | January 8th 2013 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

                You are absolutely correct WW

              • January 8th 2013 @ 1:09pm
                Red Kev said | January 8th 2013 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

                You mentioned injury cover, I was using Clarke as an obvious example … I thought it was fairly straightforward, but maybe I needed to use bigger letters, shorter words and colourful diagrams for you to get it.
                Bowlers getting injured have nothing to do with the batting order nor opening partnerships.
                Is it misleading to post that Watson opened in 2011 and averaged 32 … exactly the same as Cowan!
                Is it misleading to post that Watson has only played 16 of the last 25 tests and every single absence has been injury enforced!

    • January 8th 2013 @ 7:50am
      Red Kev said | January 8th 2013 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      The biggest concern out of all of this is Inverarity and Arthur’s insistence that an all-rounder is a 100% necessity and that Australia must have one. That is simply not true. Warner can bowl 4-5 overs an innings, so can Clarke, so can Khawaja (as shown in the Chairman’s XI match) – that is sufficient to give a frontline bowler a rest during an innings. Moreover with the absurd rotation policy there is no problem with “over-bowling” as you simply rotate the guy out next match.
      Arthur is obviously desperate for an Australian Kallis (no.4 is the best spot for Watson – rubbish).
      If Watson is one of the best six bats in the country, then pick him. He isn’t, so don’t.
      The absolute worst possible outcome from this drivel from the NSP and Arthur is Watson to open, Cowan to 3, Hughes to 4, Maxwell at 6 and Khawaja once again messed around by the old white rednecks Inverarity, Marsh and Arthur.

      • January 8th 2013 @ 8:39am
        Chui said | January 8th 2013 @ 8:39am | ! Report

        Are you saying Khawaja is being left out of the side because of the colour of his skin?

        I think he should be in the side, but there are mutterings around NSW that his training ethic is a little ‘relaxed’. I wonder if this is a perceived problem. His fielding ability has also been questioned.

        • January 8th 2013 @ 8:54am
          Red Kev said | January 8th 2013 @ 8:54am | ! Report

          So has his scoring rate, rotation of strike, the fact he can’t throw ambidextrously, that all he does is score runs, that he’s too introverted, that he doesn’t spend enough time in the gym – excuses not reasons.
          Anyone who has actually watched his games under boof for Queensland knows that while some of those may have been a concern in 2011 when he was dropped, the reality is he had a poor year of form (in my opinion as much brought on by the selectors constantly messing him around) and that the environment at NSW is toxic hence Cummins leaving NSW for the BBL and Hughes and Khawaja leaving the state entirely. Khawaja fields in the covers and the slips and does it well for the Bulls.
          As I have said previously, I am very skeptical of the conduct and motives of this NSP.

          • January 8th 2013 @ 9:21am
            Chui said | January 8th 2013 @ 9:21am | ! Report

            Id have to agree with you about the NSW environment. I couldnt blame any of them for leaving. Its as if the Waratahs and CNSW share the same halfwits. I can tell you there is absolutely bugger all support for junior cricket in NSW. People at club level are tearing their hair out.

          • January 8th 2013 @ 10:46am
            Rob Barrow said | January 8th 2013 @ 10:46am | ! Report

            Well said Kev, the issues in NSW cricket show that its them who need to fix their issues so they stop losing their best players, as guys like Khawaja and Hughes are showing that nothing was wrong with them but with the strucutre in NSW cricket. Boof deserves alot of credit for what he has done for Khawja

          • January 8th 2013 @ 12:40pm
            Craig2 said | January 8th 2013 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

            Khawaja is a must for the test team. Cowan is the batsman that should move over.

            • January 8th 2013 @ 8:24pm
              The Kebab Connoisseur said | January 8th 2013 @ 8:24pm | ! Report

              What is his batting average in Sheffield Shield the past 12 months? He only has 43 over his career, it is a big step up to test level. He has only 1 x 50 in all the innings he has had so far. A lot of starts which suggest “concentration” problems if you are getting out in your 20s and 30s a lot.

              He will get back in sooner or later, but he did not really set the world on fire when he had the chance.

              Who else is around?

        • January 8th 2013 @ 5:16pm
          Disco said | January 8th 2013 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

          Perhaps he’s not seen as a ‘good bloke’ whatever that means. It seems to keep others in the picture.

      • January 8th 2013 @ 9:01am
        Brendon said | January 8th 2013 @ 9:01am | ! Report

        I agree, I think for the moment until a quality all rounder presents himself then Australia need to stop trying to unearth one. Clarke & Warner can both bowl and our pace stocks are the best they have been for a long time. Batting depth is what we need and they shouldn’t be compromising that in order to slot an all rounder in.

        Technically we kind of have one in Wade anyway, he performs duel roles allowing us an extra batsmen, I understand he doesn’t bowl.
        I keep hearing Maxwell’s name, I haven’t seen him play but I’m not sure (maybe people can comment who have seen him) that he’s good enough either as a bowler or a batsmen in international cricket. Surely if you look at a Kallis/Flintoff type model they have to be really good at both, plus he’s a spinner, and last time I checked, Clarke’s leggies were actually pretty good.

        Time to move on and if an all rounder selects himself then so be it.

        • Roar Guru

          January 8th 2013 @ 12:10pm
          TheGenuineTailender said | January 8th 2013 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

          Clarke’s leggies? You’re definitely a ‘casual’ fan of the game. But most of what you’re saying is very true.

      • January 8th 2013 @ 9:03am
        WW said | January 8th 2013 @ 9:03am | ! Report

        We need to pick our test match all rounder and play him at 6 and if he is good enough he will become a specialist batsman and probably move up the order over the years…. and then you bring in the next young all rounder.

        Watson was the all rounder but just like S waugh it is now time for him to give up bowling in order to stay fit to concentrate on his batting.

        lets bring in Henriquez at 6 and if he fails bring in Marsh. Both of these will probably also end up specialist batsman as most all rounders do as they get older.

        Kallis still being able to bowl medium at his age and bat at 3 or 4 is just freakish. Flintoff was one of the rare examples of going the other way and became a front line bowler that batted at 7 or 8. but of course this move cut short his career with knee problems.

        we the fans also need to not expect the no 6 to average 50 with the bat and 20 with the ball. We should expect both bat and ball to average in the 30’s as an allrounder. anything better than that is a bonus. Keith Miller averaged mid 30’s with the bat after all.

        • January 8th 2013 @ 9:08am
          Red Kev said | January 8th 2013 @ 9:08am | ! Report

          Allrounders are not a necessity in test teams.

          • January 8th 2013 @ 9:46am
            WW said | January 8th 2013 @ 9:46am | ! Report

            they are if you want to win consistently against sides that on paper are genuinely better than you.

            Flintoff in 2005. all he needed to do was chip in with the bat and score 1 good hundred and take a few wickets each test in a series for england to beat an sutralian side that was better on paper. frankly he was the difference.

            having a no 6 allrounder gives you balance and an advanatge. An extra arm to bowl and someone to chip in with the bat. You don’t need one to average 50 with the bat and 20 with the ball is all.

            Fans like you have lost all perspective on what a no 6 needs to be able to do.

            • January 8th 2013 @ 10:14am
              Red Kev said | January 8th 2013 @ 10:14am | ! Report

              The problem with that allrounder is that Flintoff was GOOD. So is Kallis. To be honest so is Watson if he can stay fit.
              You don’t play a sub-standard player just because he can bowl and bat. An allrounder has to be able to hold his spot either as a top six bat or as a frontline paceman.

              • January 8th 2013 @ 10:46am
                WW said | January 8th 2013 @ 10:46am | ! Report

                so now you’re going from the generic ‘allrounders are not a necessity’ comment to specifics…..

                i do not believe Henriques’ 160 odd not out and his two fifties so far this season is sub standard nor his 13 wickets at 17.69.

                A good allrounder needs to hold his place as the best all rounder in the country. One that can score hundreds and take wickets. Henriques does that and he is the best all rounder in the country.

                I think you’ll find a great all rounder needs to be able to hold his place as one of the best batsman and or bowlers in the country as you’ve said. I’m not suggesting henriques will be a great but he is a player cpapable of averaging 30 with bat and ball whicjh is all you need from your no 6. It is only a recent phenomenon that our no 6’s have been genuine batsman and i think this was only due to the fact that Gilchrist was our batting allrounder for us and we had warne and mcgrath to bowl sides out. These calibre of players are gone and so we need a genuine no 6 all rounder to compensate.

                btw Flintoff for 3/4 of his career could never have held his place in the england side as one of their top 6 batsman or top 4 seamers. not until 2004-2005 when he became a front line seamer. Thats why he will not go down as a great all rounder just one that had great moments.

              • January 8th 2013 @ 12:40pm
                Rob Barrow said | January 8th 2013 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

                RedKev is right, Maxwell is not good enough to be an allrounder, take a quality all rounder and that’s great but don’t force the issue when there isn’t one fit to take yet, Mcdonald would have been good had he been fit

            • January 8th 2013 @ 10:25am
              josh said | January 8th 2013 @ 10:25am | ! Report

              While a capable allrounder is useful in a cricket team. Just being an allrounder shouldn’t guarantee automatic selection.

              • January 8th 2013 @ 10:50am
                WW said | January 8th 2013 @ 10:50am | ! Report

                agreed but a player that can score hundreds and take 2 or 3 wickets an innings…… thats what this team needs now that watson is giving up bowling.

                henriques is doing that this season. He deserves a spot.

              • January 8th 2013 @ 10:55am
                Red Kev said | January 8th 2013 @ 10:55am | ! Report

                All rounders have to considered on their merits INDIVIDUALLY. They are not required in test sides, no.6 does not have to be an allrounder, you are the one that has lost all perspective.
                That is Henriques first ever first class hundred – you DO NOT give a guy a test cap for that. Christian was swooped on my Uncle Arthur last year for showing a glimmer of form as well – what has he done since? These guys need to prove themselves as genuine first class cricketers before being put into Test Match cricket.
                Henriques averages under 30 for his career, this season is not evidence of class. If he can finish averaging 50 for the season and do it again next season he should be considered.

              • January 8th 2013 @ 11:37am
                WW said | January 8th 2013 @ 11:37am | ! Report

                you are not listening!

                IN THIS CURRENT AUSTRALIAN SIDE WE NEED A GENUINE ALL ROUNDER IF WE ARE TO WIN BACK THE ASHES AGAINST A BETTER SIDE!

                we then need to play 3 excellent team performances to win 3 of the 5 test matches or win 2 nad hope for 2 drawa. Thats the best we can hope for and it will not happen if we go in with an unbalanced side.

                Henriques is in form and i read your comments banging on about in form young players…. is it because he is not a queenslander… i think so!

              • January 8th 2013 @ 12:06pm
                Red Kev said | January 8th 2013 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

                I am listening, you are just wrong. We don’t need an allrounder.
                Form is important, but not when it is the only form you’ve ever shown – i.e. Christian, Henriques, Doolan.

              • Roar Guru

                January 8th 2013 @ 12:15pm
                TheGenuineTailender said | January 8th 2013 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

                When Australia won 16 straight tests, did they have a ‘genuine allrounder’. No. When the poms ascended to number one in the world did they have a ‘genuine allrounder’. No. All-rounders are luxuries. They have to be good enough to play as a specialist batsman, or a specialist bowler. They can’t just be bits and pieces of both. That’s what the English sides of the 90’s and early 00’s were made up of. Bits and pieces all rounders.

                If you have the luxury of a world class all rounder, you play him. If not, then you add a batsman. There’s nothing five bowlers can do that four bowlers can’t.

            • January 8th 2013 @ 5:20pm
              Disco said | January 8th 2013 @ 5:20pm | ! Report

              Flintoff also bowled something like 22 overs in a one spell during the last Test of that series. Watson barely manages to bowl five.

      • January 8th 2013 @ 10:44am
        Rob Barrow said | January 8th 2013 @ 10:44am | ! Report

        Red Kev is spot on about Khawaja, most folks don’t know he can bowl and he got Sangakara out in the chairman’s X1 and deserved his place in the SCG test once Watto was injured similar to how we bought Quiney in for him. And this talk about his work ethic not being right is all false, i think NSW is just annoyed he left them to go for the Bulls where he has done very well under boof, his fielding looks sharp and running between the wickets is better then a few of the folks in the Aussie setup, one in particular. I think when people can’t find a reason not to include a player, they make up things to justify it and that’s what this false stuff about work ethic is all about, Khawaja is a must for the Indian series and Ashes.

        • January 8th 2013 @ 5:21pm
          Disco said | January 8th 2013 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

          No! You can’t have a dig at Cowan! Don’t you know he’s a good bloke? He gave last year’s Anzac address to his fellow troops after all.

    • January 8th 2013 @ 10:12am
      Frankie Hughes said | January 8th 2013 @ 10:12am | ! Report

      I think if Watson is fit, he MUST open in India.

      India’s seam bowling isn’t exactly Test standard. If Watson, Warner and Hughes can pummel them early, then their trump card (spinners) will be under pressure.

      Cowan doesn’t cut it as a Test player. He was a fill in whilst Phil Hughes was being reconstructed. Time for Cowan to be axed.

    • January 8th 2013 @ 12:02pm
      Rohit said | January 8th 2013 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

      Jim i like your side, personally i think Smith would be a better all rounder then Maxwell as Maxwell’s offspinners are part time at best, plus it may encourage Smith to work more on his leg spin. This is the team I’d pick purely for India. It’s not at all the same side I’d pick for the England tour. 1. Watson 2. Warner 3. Hughes 4 Khawaja 5. Clarke 6. Wade 7. Paine 8. O’Keefe 9. Siddle 10. Lyon 11. Bird.
      To be successful in India, a side must have batsmen who can play spin (hence no Cowan), the best W/K standing up (Paine, IMO, is the best Aus has) and two spinners, one who turns the ball in and one who turns it away. Khawaja is important for the top order as he gives us more reliability if there is a collapse as he has a reputation for scoring in tough conditions. The two seamers need to be the steadiest, most accurate bowlers, since they are going to have to bowl for long periods on unresponsive wickets. Wild bowlers get taken round the park in India. I’d have Copeland in the squad, too, he’s ideal for the conditions. I don’t think it’s a great team for Indian conditions, but it’s the group whose strengths best match what is needed.

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