Shane Watson has returned serve at Cricket Australia high performance boss Pat Howard, saying the former rugby player doesn’t know him very well and hasn’t “been in and around cricket for very long”.
Allrounder Watson returned to Australia on Tuesday night to be with his pregnant wife after he was one of four players suspended from the third Test in India for not completing a written task as requested by coach Mickey Arthur.
Watson said he was shattered by the suspension, which was also handed out to fast bowlers James Pattinson and Mitchell Johnson and batsman Usman Khawaja.
“I got that extremely wrong, which cost me a Test match,” Watson told a large media contingent at Sydney Airport.
But Watson intimated that Howard was in no position to suggest he was only “sometimes” a team player and that he had issues with captain Michael Clarke.
“Just go round and ask every person that I’ve played cricket with and that will give you the best indication of whether I’m a team man or not,” Watson said.
“Pat Howard doesn’t particularly know me very well. He’s obviously come from a rugby background and hasn’t been in and around cricket for very long, so I think the best people to ask are the people I’ve played cricket with.”
Questioned about Howard’s comment that he had issues with Clarke, Watson said: “the way relationships work, there’s always ups and downs like there is in marriages and in friendships.”
“I’ve been playing cricket against and with Michael Clarke since I was 12, so we’ve got a lot of history as people.
“Obviously we are quite different people in certain ways and we’re very similar in a lot of ways as well.
“Like you do in every relationship, it goes up and down and things are going really well at the moment with me and Michael.
“With Pat Howard, he’s obviously just come on board the last year and a half and myself and Michael go a little bit further back than a year and a half.
“I actually talked to Michael as I got off the flight as well, he obviously heard about the comments Pat made as well, so everything is ok.”
Watson remained hopeful his Test career had not ended.
While acknowledging he was wrong in not completing the review required from all the players, Watson felt the punishment of suspension had been overly harsh.
“I obviously accept that I did the wrong thing with what I did, but I will always find it very hard to accept being suspended from a Test match for my country,” Watson said.
“I’ve missed a lot of Test matches and games through injury throughout my career and I also feel like I’ve worked my absolute bum off as well to have an opportunity to be able to represent my country.
“I think it’s extremely harsh to be suspended from a Test match for your country in any circumstance, whether we are two-nil down or whether we are going very well.”
Watson said he had expressed his extreme disappointment with the punishment.
He said he wasn’t thinking about returning to India for the fourth and final Test as he was only thinking about the safe arrival of his baby.
Watson said returning home would give him the opportunity to reflect on what had happened over the last two days.
“I absolutely love playing cricket, I love nothing more than being able to have the opportunity and privilege to represent my country,” Watson said.
“And that’s something when it was taken away from me with the suspension, I think the guys back in India realised how much it hurts me.”