Shane Watson must open in India
Shane Watson - (AP Photo/Gautam Singh)
During the week both Michael Clarke and John Inverarity warned Shane Watson his place in the Test side was no certainty now he has decided not to bowl.
For mine, they were two foolish comments that should have been made behind closed doors.
Yesterday at Manuka Oval in the third ODI against the Windies, Watson proved how foolish the captain and chairman of selectors were by cruising to a chanceless century off 102 deliveries.
He ended up with 122 off 111.
The innings was so magnificently dominant, Watson should not only be the third player picked behind Clarke and Mitchell Starc for the four Tests against India, but he must open the batting as well.
While the David Warner-Ed Cowan opening batting experiment hasn’t been a failure, it hasn’t been as flash as one would like either.
They have batted 22 times together, for just three big scores:
* The 214 opening stand against India at the WACA where Warner smoked 180, Cowan 74, and Australia won by an innings and 37.
* The 132 against Sri Lanka at Bellerive – Warner 68, Cowan 56 – for Australia to win by 137.
* And 95 against Sri Lanka at the MCG – Warner 62, Cowan 36 – Australia won by an innings and 201.
Three out of 22 starts demands a change, and Shane Watson is the answer.
His two Test tons and 19 half-centuries also demand a far better conversion rate.
So far Watson has scored four 90s, three 80s, one 70, two 60s, and nine 50s.
Promoting Watson up the order means Cowan would be the casualty, and in many ways that’s a shame. He’s a gutsy honest tough competitor, but Watson is the better proposition.
His best scores have been as an opener, and it would be the biggest folly of the year to ignore that fact.
India, even in India, would be afraid of the Watson-Warner opening batting combination – and with good reason.
If both teed off in the same innings, all hell would break loose. And with the Indian attack fragile under pressure at the best of times, that would make life a lot easier for skipper Clarke.
So forget Watson won’t be able to bowl. Cowan doesn’t bowl anyway so there’s no change in the team balance.
But the prospect of boom starts from the two ‘W’s could actually decide ownership of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.