Howard and Watson in a battle for their cricket futures
It’s electrolytes at dawn as Pat Howard and Shane Watson appear to be locked in Australian cricket;s version of the Thunderdome.
It’s clear that in the wash up of this implosion only one man will move ahead within the Australian cricket team set up.
Two men enter, one man leaves.
Pat Howard landed the first blow with his, I think he (Watson) acts in the best interests of the team sometimes,” remark.
A breathtaking example of a backhanded snipe, one for which even Rodney Dangerfield would have been proud.
What made the statement even more loaded was Howard’s knowledge that Watson would have been well and truly sky high on a flight back to Australia.
Howard was either unaware that Watson’s arrival would be met with an army of journalists rapid-firing questions at the vice-captain or, more likely, he deliberately left the door open to see if or how Watson wanted to respond under pressure and on the spur of the moment.
If Howard thought Watson would develop a sudden need to lie down and admit his wrongs, he was sorely mistaken.
The Australian vice-captain arrived home to be confronted with the statements he had not heard, made by a foe for which he obviously has little respect.
Asked if he was disappointed in Howard’s words, Watson replied with a quick ‘yes’.
He then had his own Dangerfield moment when he mentioned that he and captain Michael Clarke had known each other since they were 12 through playing with and against each other.
He then referred to the fact Howard has been around Watson, Clarke and the game for just one year, the clear inference being that Watson knows Clarke and the machinations of the current situation much better than Howard could.
Watson was asked several questions surrounding the situation with Michael Clarke and their working relationship, and as a result of his answers a stalemate has ensued.
Watson effectively called Howard a liar by saying there is no issue at all with Clarke.
Earlier Howard had stated he and coach Mickey Arthur have the full support of Michael Clarke and that Watson needs to sort out his issues with the captain.
Someone is telling the truth (or close to it), and somebody is obviously stretching it.
It’s a bad look for both professionals and one that neither should have let occur.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, yesterday saw one of the ‘Mohali four’ demonstrate contriteness in having no excuse for not completing the task set by team management.
James Pattinson is one of the youngest members of the touring squad, but he is seemingly one that understands diplomacy and the strength of improving team morale.
Whether or not you agree, disagree or are blissfully ambivalent to what has been absurdly referred to as ‘homeworkgate’, the publicly displayed calmness of Pattinson’s statements fly in the face of the explosiveness of the conflict between his vice-captain and high performance manager.
Pattinson’s refusal of the task set may have been a young man’s mistake, and he may still believe he was harshly dealt with.
But unlike the comments of Howard and Watson, Pattinson’s subsequent statements and handling of his situation reflects the professionalism required in modern cricket, for better or for worse.
For the love of the game, I hope the current ridiculousness dissipates quickly.
The small matter of a cricket match against India has been rendered sadly insignificant, perhaps the biggest shame in this tawdry and boring affair.
Pat Howard and Shane Watson may need to perform some more ‘homework’ in reflecting on their positions as representatives of Australian Cricket.
Not allowing internal team squabbles to turn into a public fight to the death might be a good place to start.