Watson needs to speak as part of the team
Shane Watson (Image: AFP)
When it comes to Test cricket players and the media, most deliver a fairly good trade in clichés.
Phrases such as ‘what’s best for the team’ and ‘stepping up’ are dull, but they are what the professional Test cricketer has to say to toe the line.
After all, in a squad of 17 on a lengthy tour of up to two months, the last thing anyone wants is acrimony in the ranks.
Which is what makes the case of Shane Watson all the more interesting.
Watson has, for the past couple of months, seemed to go ‘off message’ when it has come to the press.
Instead of asking how he can adapt for the team, Watson in many press articles has seemed to be more concerned about how the team can adapt to Shane Watson.
This has been seen in his various claims that he does not want to bowl any more for fear of injury, his concern about being a middle order batsmen rather than an opener and now, after his suspension, his decision to question his future as a Test cricketer.
Throughout all this he is still the Australian Test vice-captain and still the answer to the all-rounder question of some people who believe that a less-talented Australian XI need a fifth bowler to win matches.
But he has 40 Test caps now and no vice-captain I have heard of goes home after an (admittedly harsh) one match suspension and tells the press that he’s thinking of retiring.
It all smacks of someone who’s in a bit of a sulk, and Watson needs some public sympathy at the moment.
He’s not Usman Khawaja, who seems to be bashing down the selectors door with a sledgehammer trying to get in; nor is he James Pattinson, who is slowly on the upswing as we count down to the Ashes.
Instead he is a Test cricketer who, from the outside at least, seems to be wanting the selectors to put him where he feels at his most comfortable – as if it would be a tonic to his poor performance.
The clichés sportspeople speak are often dull and pedestrian to listen to. The thing is though, they often become clichés because they are what everyone who matters wants to hear.
Perhaps Shane Watson should think more about that and less about trying to lobby for what he wants.