The horror series against India which saw Australia suffer its worst defeat since the 78/79 Ashes has placed many players’ careers under serious threat.
None more than Shane Watson, due to his actions both on and off the field. On the field, he had a poor series, accumulating 99 runs at 24.
Off the field there were even more problems, with Watson being suspended alongside three other Australian players for not completing a task given by Mickey Arthur.
He was also questioned for not being a ”team player” by Pat Howard.
Watson has now failed to register a Test hundred for over 39 Test innings dating back to October 2010.
Despite his Test downfall, he has continued to excel in the shorter forms of the game, averaging 53 in the last year in ODIs and was player of the tournament in the ICC T20 World Cup only last September.
His Test average has dropped from 42 to 35 in the last 18 months, but in ODIs his average has hovered around 40-43 throughout his career.
Although chairman of selectors John Inverarity stated that he cannot guarantee Watson’s place for the Ashes, there is a fair chance the selectors will stick with him simply because he has the vice-captaincy.
In the three months leading to the Ashes, Watson should consider these three things as options for his future:
- Relinquishing the vice-captaincy from all forms of the game;
- Retire from Test cricket to prolong his ODI and T20 career, giving him a chance of playing in the 2015 World Cup;
- Retire from ODI and T20 cricket prolonging his Test career.
For some, it may be hard to believe that Watson has not been able to convert his ODI and T20 form into Test form, given he has remained extremely consistent in those formats.
Some may believe he is not up to Test standards.
There have a been a few factors that explain Watson’s Test form.
Firstly, injury from bowling, poor preparation due to not playing enough first-class games and his demotion from opening to no. 3 or 4.
It is also worth noting that his average has also started to fall ever since he loss Katich as his opening partner and when Ricky Ponting retired from the captaincy in 2011.
Playing as a specialist batsman in India was also a huge mistake.
This it meant if Watson didn’t score runs, his position would be at risk given he didn’t give himself the chance of taking wickets.
Between now and the Ashes there is the IPL, where it is likely that Watson will be one of the top run scorers and chip in with handy wickets.
Whether he can transform that form into Test cricket is a totally different story.
Shane Watson will probably get nowhere near reading this article or even know I wrote it but before or after the Ashes he must consider those three options which will play a huge role for his future in the Australian side.
He also must use the time between now and the Ashes to get back into bowling form and strengthen his fitness so he can play as an all-rounder in the Ashes.
Personally I believe he should not be an automatic selection for the first two Tests of the series, even though the selectors will probably pick him.
But Watson is a good player, capable of dominating teams all round the world as he has shown in the past and in the shorter formats. The question is, can he deliver this Ashes series?
I’ll leave it to you, Roarers.