Clarke gives Watson advice at training
Captain Michael Clarke took a hands on role at Australian training on Thursday in helping Shane Watson overcome his lbw problem.
Clarke was a vocal figure at the session and worked with Watson in the Northampton nets in the lead up to Australia’s two-day tour match against the England Lions.
As Australia’s batting line-up continues to fight for toughness, game smarts and consistency, who better to school them than Clarke, one of the best batsmen of the modern era.
Watson has been out four times lbw during this Ashes series, including in the second innings at Chester-le-Street, and it is a weakness that has dogged him for his entire career.
Between the second and third Tests, Watson spent a week in London working on not making his front leg such a target for England’s quicks and resisting the urge to play across the line.
Clarke, Australia’s leading batsman, was giving Watson advice and feedback on Thursday on playing straight.
“It’s always handy to have someone to help out isn’t it,” said coach Darren Lehmann.
“(Clarke) came early for his session and he wants to help the young blokes out.”
The young blokes, and Watson.
Clarke spent most of his time with his former vice captain, standing down the wicket as batting coach Michael Di Venuto threw balls down.
Lehmann said the advice would have been simple.
“Not to get out lbw I would think,” Lehmann joked.
“Use your bat, play straight.”
There’s long been speculation and innuendo surrounding Clarke’s relationship with Watson.
More dirty laundry was aired in leaked court documents from former coach Mickey Arthur’s case against Cricket Australia.
However, there can be no doubting the communication of the pair on this Ashes tour.
And Thursday’s session suggested there was nothing wrong with their working relationship.
“I’ve had no problems with them since I’ve been here,” said Lehmann.
“They’ve worked well so no problems.”
Watson will captain the Australians in the tour match, with Clarke being rested.
In his new role at No.6, Watson batted a fine knock in the first innings at Chester-le-Street, scoring 68.
He hurt his right groin and hip in the fourth Test, and won’t bowl in the tour match, however Australia expect him to be fit to assume his allrounder duties in the fifth Test at The Oval.
Meanwhile, England suffered a blow ahead of the final match of the series, with fast bowling allrounder Tim Bresnan ruled out for the rest of the season with stress fractures in his back.
Bresnan was a key man in England’s fourth Test victory.
Chris Tremlett will be his likely replacement at The Oval, unless England decide to play two spinners.© AAP 2014