Will the real Watson please stand up?

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Shane Watson (Image: AFP)

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Shane Watson is an enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped inside a mystery. For all the hype about him, sometimes you think he just needs to dash into a phone booth to reveal his secret identity.

He has played at several positions in the order and also bowls handy medium pacers that occasionally break the odd dangerous partnership.

It would seem odd therefore, that the Australian Cricket team really have little idea what to do with him, but it does. This is compounded by the fact that, due to injuries, Watson is now voicing with selectors the idea of playing merely as a batsman rather than as an all-rounder.

The simple reason for all this is that beneath this much vaunted versatility is a sense of vulnerability. His place in the batting order has, more than anything else, been at the behest of what needs filling, rather than his natural spot, such as the No. 3 slot that Ricky Ponting filled for much of his career.

This is compounded by his stats. While his average of 37.02 is not too bad, the fact is that his conversion rate of 19 fifties and two centuries is not what’s needed to take a game by the throat.

The other problem is that, statistically in Tests at least, his bowling is perhaps the more useful side of his game. As the fifth bowler in the Australian side, he boasts an average of 30.06 at a strike rate of 63.

Losing him as a bowler means finding another all-rounder and as Mitchell Johnson found out, it takes more than a massive PR campaign to allow you to both bat and bowl at a consistent level.

Therefore, is Australia willing to continue to bend to what Watson feels his body requires him to do? Or will the selectors give Watson an ultimatum?

Because while people believe he could be anything, perhaps a more important question is whether Shane Watson and the selectors believe that what Shane Watson can be is feasible for the Australian Test team.

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