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Time is running out for Shane Watson

Jack Fleming Roar Rookie

By Jack Fleming, Jack Fleming is a Roar Rookie

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    Is Shane Watson our greatest ever skipper? (AAP Image/Ben Macmahon)

    Shane Watson is becoming increasingly likely to join a small list of those players that have developed during Australia’s golden period, and subsequently failed to live up to their potential.

    Watson, Brad Hodges, Chris Rogers, and ironically, coach Darren Lehmann are on the list of those who have struggled to amount to more than a small smudge on Australian cricket’s glorious history.

    At the age of 32, it is becoming clearer that Watson isn’t going to live up to everything he has long been on the verge of. At this stage of his career, Watson should be heading towards the types of numbers somebody like a Jacques Kallis is producing, and although matching a modern champion is near impossible, not even Watson’s biggest doubters would’ve imagined as substantial a gap between them as we are now subjected to.

    As time continues to pass through his career, we reflect on how both the Australian set-up and public have continuously given him more time simply because everyone saw the potential and the ability to turn a match consistently.

    Unfortunately, Watson has turned the match as often in the opposition’s favour as he has in Australia’s, getting out at crucial times (such as just before lunch at Lord’s) and contributing to Australia’s all-to-familiar collapses.

    To blame Watson solely for the collapses would be unreasonable, but Watson, as a senior member of a line-up full of unstable and inexperienced youth that at times were seemingly participating on an internship-based trial, needed to provide more.

    Watson needed to grab a game by the ‘scruff-of-the-neck’; he needed to provide that big score that not only guided the game, but also taught his apprentices in the art of batting.

    Watson has been one to constantly tempt and entice the Australian team and public. He produces innings such as his 161* against England and 185* against Bangladesh, in the one-day format that dare the fans to dream of what he could do in the Test arena.

    Taunting the fans further, he has made scores of 84, 60, 90 and 109 in his tour games leading up to both the India series and the Ashes this year, yet has only averaged a touch over 20 in actual Tests this calendar year.

    That has led to questions being asked about his technique. However, he doesn’t really have a technical flaw, just a common way of getting out when he lapses in concentration.

    Watson has this ability to consistently get starts easily, something that a technical flaw wouldn’t allow, before mocking the nation’s hopes and aspirations for that ‘big’ innings and right on cue departing through yet another lapse.

    In an age where psychologists are omnipresent around not only the cricket team, but every other sport as well, it is becoming increasingly difficult to comprehend why Watson hasn’t yet fixed this mental inability to go on.

    There are probably numerous problems. Watson’s inability to rotate the strike would mean that he has to concentrate for longer periods straight, which would hinder his ability to make larger scores.

    Another reason could be a lack of understanding of how to make those big scores, and hence, disbelief in his own ability.

    Before Michael Clarke scored his 151 against South Africa in November 2011, he had the ability to score centuries, but not the belief to score even bigger like he did after that innings.

    That century, against the best bowling attack in the world, in tough conditions, and in a foreign country, convinced Clarke he could match it with the best. He hasn’t looked back since, averaging over 60.

    Everyone waited for that breakthrough innings from Watson, in some aspects praying that one of those one-day innings would be the trigger, however it still hasn’t resulted well in the Test arena.

    It could be due to support out in the middle. Watson doesn’t seem to be too cohesive with his teammates, and in some aspects, unlike Clarke, looks like he hasn’t altered the personality that was so effective in that champion Gen-X team of the last decade to the modern Gen-Y culture.

    His ability to constantly look miserable, and always be the last to celebrate a team achievement gives the public the impression he doesn’t ‘fit in’. This was evident in the second innings in Manchester, when Warner replaced Watson at the top of the order.

    Although there could’ve been numerous technical reasons as to why Watson did not join Warner, it seems odd that Australia would not send out two of the best strikers in world cricket in their search for quick runs.

    Even if Watson’s diminishing form was the reason behind it, it seems only logical that this scenario was perfect for him to play himself back into form. Unless, he and Warner just refused to bat together, which would signal disharmony in the team and unfairly or fairly, will only ever end badly for Watson, especially in his current form.

    It’s interesting that Chris Rogers, Watson’s new partner for the Ashes series, was quoted saying before the Ashes began that he would like to help Watson concentrate in the middle and help convert his overriding talent into those big scores we all craved.

    Fans loved hearing it, and one immediately reflected to when Jacques Kallis finally broke the 200 barrier against India in 2010, and scored numerous other big centuries against quality opposition soon after.

    When asked about his recent trend of converting centuries to bigger scores after a decade beforehand of smaller centuries, he spoke about the influence Hashim Amla, the South African No. 3, had on his batting when they batted together out in the middle, and the way they excelled working off one another. Unfortunately, Rogers hasn’t had the same effect, at least not yet.

    Watson is getting on, and as previously witnessed over recent times, has probably peaked. For those at his age that thrive like never before are by-and-large the exception rather than the rule.

    It is for this reason and many others that one believes Watson is running out of time, not just to remain in the team, but to make something more than a smudge on Australia’s glorious cricket history, one he should have written a chapter in.

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • August 7th 2013 @ 9:44am
      Hookin' YT said | August 7th 2013 @ 9:44am | ! Report

      Running out? Its run out. His batting average is akin to Starc’s low 30s. Play Hughes if they want to persevere with a flawed entity.

    • August 7th 2013 @ 11:19am
      jonty23 said | August 7th 2013 @ 11:19am | ! Report

      Watson should never be mentioned in any compasison regarding Kallis….in fact Watson wouldnt even carry Kallis`s bag!

      • August 7th 2013 @ 12:44pm
        Hookin' YT said | August 7th 2013 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

        Indeed.

        Kallis
        13,128 runs @ 56.10;
        288 wickets @ 32.43

        With 2726 runs and 63 wickets, Watson is a non contender as an all rounder.

      • August 7th 2013 @ 12:58pm
        Hookin' YT said | August 7th 2013 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

        The Lance Klusener of Australian cricket? Though with a similar test count, Zulu had 17 more wickets and 2 more 100s đŸ˜‰

        • August 7th 2013 @ 2:00pm
          Red Kev said | August 7th 2013 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

          Isn’t Klusener the guy that had to be bribed to play for the Proteas because he wanted to stay on his farm?

        • August 7th 2013 @ 2:21pm
          Matt F said | August 7th 2013 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

          Kluesner is actually a pretty good comparison! Very good shorter form player but not test stadard

          • August 7th 2013 @ 3:12pm
            Disco said | August 7th 2013 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

            Better than Watson though.

          • August 7th 2013 @ 7:11pm
            Hutch said | August 7th 2013 @ 7:11pm | ! Report

            Klusener was picked as an out and quick bowler for SA and took 8 for 64 on debut in India (49 Tests 80 wkts ave 37.91 SR 86) Klusener played in a side that contained Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald so was very much the stock bowler.

            Save for nightwatchmen duties, Klusener batted in the lower order for the majority of his Test career and was a bowler who contributed down the order with the bat after the 99 WC he was elevated to 6 or 7 where in 29 Tests batting at 6 or 7 he averaged 40,23 and scored 3 100’s (with a highest Test score of 174 @ # 7)

            He would never have been picked for SA purely as a batsmen and played in a side that could boast the likes of Pollock, McMillan, Kallis, Hall as all-rounders all of whom have scored Test centuries. So he did the job that was required of him and was never SA’s batting all-rounder comparing Klusener to Starc would be more appropriate.

            As a previous reader stated, Watson in the current side is picked to perform the role Kallis does for SA. He is just neither as good a batsmen nor bowler.

            The problem with Watson is that his performances have been in a perpetual downward spiral since 2010 (he ave 65 with bat in 2009 and 42 in 2010 … since then he has ave in the 20’s and has been bowling less and less)

    • August 7th 2013 @ 8:20pm
      jammel said | August 7th 2013 @ 8:20pm | ! Report

      People talk about Hughes going back to Shield and making runs for 1 or 2 seasons before getting another chance…../???? What about Watson?

      Good cricketer, good ability – especially as a bowler.

      Why don’t we drop Watson and send him back to Shield cricket. If he performs for one or two seasons, let’s consider him again. But the numbers he is delivering just aren’t acceptable. Any of six or seven openers would do better, given the opportunities which have been afforded to Watson in Test cricket.

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