Watson leaves huge experience gap

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    Australia skipper Michael Clarke says he won’t have an official deputy for Thursday’s third Test against India but he’s confident he has plenty of leaders around him.

    Vice-captain Shane Watson and three other players have been suspended for one match for failing to complete a homework assignment. Watson has flown home to Sydney for the birth of his first child.

    The 31-year-old has said he’s considering his playing future and his return for the fourth Test in Delhi on March 22 is yet to be confirmed.

    “Shane Watson’s still the vice-captain in this series,” Clarke said on Wednesday.

    “My goal is Watto’s home, (he and his wife have) the baby and he’s back for the fourth Test.

    “So for this Test match, I don’t think there’s going to be a vice-captain announced.

    “There’s a handful of guys on that field that if I have to leave for any reason, I know they can take over and do a fantastic job.”

    Watson is one of only five members in Australia’s 17-man squad to have played 30 Tests or more.

    The others are Clarke, pace bowler Peter Siddle and two fringe members of the squad — reserve wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and back-up quick Mitchell Johnson.

    If Watson regains bowling fitness and plays as an allrounder in the Ashes in July, taking the vice-captaincy off him might help his game.

    Opening batsmen Ed Cowan and David Warner are also potential leaders within the side, although Clarke didn’t want to name names.

    “We have leaders in this group that you’ll see more of over hopefully the next week, six weeks, six months, six years,” said Clarke, 31.

    “There’s capable guys in this team who could captain Australia, no doubt about it.

    “There’s certainly young players around the country who could come in and be vice-captain and captain of Australia.

    “There’s a number of guys. I don’t think it’s fair for me to put that pressure and expectation on those players publicly.

    “There’s individual players there who know they have an opportunity to captain Australia.

    “So it’s very exciting for those guys.”

    © AAP 2017