Shane Watson wasted at number three

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    A successful international team needs a balanced batting order. Australia is missing one, and they will not return to the number one ranking until this is rectified.

    The number three batsman is the backbone. For decades Australia has been lucky enough to choose from a wealth of batting talent to fill this vital position, until now.

    Shane Watson is undoubtedly talented, however, to the detriment of the current Test team, he is being grossly misused.

    Watson is most valuable as an all-rounder batting at six. His Test average of 38.37 is well below par in comparison to past Australian threes – Ricky Ponting (52.85), David Boon (45.84) and Ian Chappell (50.94).

    If used solely as a batsman, he wouldn’t be in the XI. Watson’s last 10 innings average 30.4, having reached in excess of 39 five times, without scoring a hundred.

    Younger batsmen Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja were both dropped for averages around 30 after a similar amount of innings. I feel Khawaja in particular didn’t get a proper chance.

    Khawaja’s technically sound, occupies the crease and plays from a solid defensive base, yet he has been ostracised? Go figure.

    The failure to convert 50s into 100s is Watson’s biggest weakness. Those who don’t convert underachieve. Ponting has a 66 percent successful conversion rate as oppose to Watson’s ll percent.

    A three needs to be able to bat for three sessions. Batting past drinks in the second session would seem like an eternity for Watson. David Warner’s emergence to the Test arena further warrants Watson’s demotion. Each can be spectacular, however it’s simply too risky to have them both up the top.

    Top batsmen score runs when the team needs them, but Watson doesn’t, averaging 36.1 in Tests where Australia lose.

    Fluent yet flashy 50s don’t signal a class number three but mettle does – a trait Watson seems to omit. Batsmen don’t occupy the crease for fun’ a deep desire to not be dismissed burns inside them.

    Once they get a start, the resolve to not play a loose shot is stronger than ever. Watson is yet to prove he is of the calibre of all-rounders Jacques Kallis or Sir Garfield Sobers and until doing so, he needs to be at six or seven.

    Poor judgement equals bad decisions. Watson has been involved in eight of the 21 run outs occurred in his 33 Tests. Self-obsession dictates his batting. Last Ashes series he ran out Katich due to being more concerned about an LBW appeal lodged against him!

    Stoppages in play are Watsons biggest downfall, be it the entire 2009 Ashes series where he was continually dismissed within minutes of a break or in Adelaide against the Windies in 2009 where he was 96* overnight. He was dismissed two balls later the next day.

    However, his Test bowling average of 29.9, coupled with his safe hands in the slips, proves he is an asset to the team.

    I have no doubt his value to the team but only because his ill­ disciplined batting is continually offset by his skillful bowling and new found ability to take the new ball with aplomb, shown in the recent second Test against the Windies.

    His failure of conversion is a weakness of the mind. His all-round workload is hindering his performance batting at three to a degree whereby his concentration is shot.

    The selectors cannot continue to waste this supreme talent, who is currently doing less damage to the opposition than the team’s balance.

    With current batting stocks low and the impending retirement of both Ponting and Hussey, Australia needs Watson to reach his potential more than ever.

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • May 8th 2012 @ 11:46am
      Johnno said | May 8th 2012 @ 11:46am | ! Report

      -Funny 1 year ago Watson was our best batsmen and 1st player picked and on a really high contract and still is, and now your saying without his bowilng he is not good enough to make the team. Turn it up.
      I can guarentee if only 1 spot was available out of Cowan, Hussey, and ponting, Warner, I would Pick Watto he is better than all of them.

      Our middle order is fragile and it is not watto’s fault, in fact he is our only Wrold class test batsman in the whole land.

      • May 8th 2012 @ 9:20pm
        AndyMack said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:20pm | ! Report

        His test average of 38 indicates to me that he is not better than all of them.

        I love Watto in the team, but agree with this article that he is not a #3, he would be better suited down the order.

    • May 8th 2012 @ 11:57am
      John Nischke said | May 8th 2012 @ 11:57am | ! Report

      You are spot on with your comments regarding khawaja. Never given a decent shout or vote of confidence. Always playing a back up role while waiting to be removed regardless on someone’s return. Need to give the young man a run for an entire series with no axe hanging over his head. Plus how do you justify Cowan position? After playing more innings then khawaja, still gets all the support, while having almost identical stats as khawaja. figure this out! What makes it worse Cowan brags about his role in his writings or interviews.

      Watson should have been opening with Warner putting khawaja at three and Clark at four and some new blood in place for Ricky and Hussey. Time to built a long term champions team. Right now its all about getting the Ashes back for the old crew who have struggled to win it in last few outings.

      • May 9th 2012 @ 8:57am
        Disco said | May 9th 2012 @ 8:57am | ! Report

        Although I wish Cowan would stop talking himself up, it’s exactly the sort of thing that seems to appeal to the boys club. In turn, we’ll get Clarke or Uncle Arthur saying how great Cowan is whilst never even mentioning Khawaja.

    • May 8th 2012 @ 12:20pm
      Pope Paul VII said | May 8th 2012 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

      He’s in an interesting spot. His batting average is not dissimilar to Keith Miller’s and Ian Botham’s sans 100s, neither of whom opened or threed it.

      He’s not near Kallis and Sobers but, someone correct me if I’m wrong, they generally steered clear of opener and no.3?

      His major problem, possibly apart from being too nice, is Ponting, Clarke and Hussey will not budge from 4, 5 and 6.

      He’s done well considering his slow start, note to selectors on slow starters. Maybe conversion rates aren’t a big deal to the selectors? Or if the top order is such a big deal get the big names up there to deal with it.

      Personally I’m not convinced that a fair to middling allrounder batsman preventing the selection of a superior batsman ( if there is one )is they way to go as test teams often punt for a professional top six and trust their 4 bowlers to do the job. England have, mostly, benefitted from this post Flintoff. I could be wrong but I’d be surprised if Kallis was ever selected for his bowling, which turned out to be a bonus for his mob.

      Interesting times ahead.

      • May 8th 2012 @ 2:04pm
        Christo the Daddyo said | May 8th 2012 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

        Ponting, Clarke and Hussey all need to move up a slot, which allows Watson to occupy the spot he would do really well in – 6. It would also take the physical load of him a bit too, which can only benefit his bowling.

        Of all the selection decisions that have been made over the past couple of years, selecting Watson to open and then continuing to persevere with him as either opener or number three is the most bewildering to me.

        I seem to recall a whisper going around that the objection to Khawaja is not so much for his batting, but he’s considered sub-standard in the field. If he was clouting 100s regularly this might have been overlooked, but as he hasn’t quite nailed it yet, the fielding questions counted against him.

        • May 8th 2012 @ 9:47pm
          John Nischke said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:47pm | ! Report

          Well first it was his ability to change the strike, then it was his fielding. It seems excuses are just found when it comes to justify his inclusion in the team. Intresting aspect.

        • May 9th 2012 @ 8:58am
          Disco said | May 9th 2012 @ 8:58am | ! Report

          Ponting back at #3? Oh, dear.

          The “no good in the field” argument always seems to get trotted out once a bloke has been ostracised because of some other reason relating to personality, fitting in with ‘the group’ etc. Anyway, should the top six really be chosen on the basis of having six crack fielders?

    • May 8th 2012 @ 4:42pm
      lolly said | May 8th 2012 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

      Watson isn’t that safe in slips. There is no gun slipsman in the team. Hasn’t been since Warne retired. If one of the up and comers had shown more, Watson would’t be nailed on in the top 3. It’s lack of other options that keeps him there. I can’t imagine that the opposition are worried about him hurting them with the bat in test cricket.

    • May 8th 2012 @ 8:07pm
      DHE said | May 8th 2012 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

      Watson was our best batsman in a terrible team over a terrible year. He has still on accrued, what, one century? Regardless he is valuable but should be moved down the order to utelise his bowling more and ease the pressure on his batting.

      Also it goes without saying that up until the current group (Warner, Cowan and previously Marsh) no new batsmen were given proper time to develop into their roles. This especially for Hughes and Khwaja. But with Ponting justifying his place and Hussey doing that and then some, I suppose we are in a slightly positive point right now.

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      • May 9th 2012 @ 9:03am
        Disco said | May 9th 2012 @ 9:03am | ! Report

        Let’s first see how Ponting does against a high-quality attack.

    • May 8th 2012 @ 10:11pm
      Fetus said | May 8th 2012 @ 10:11pm | ! Report

      I don’t know the figures but if you take out when Watson batted down the order at the start of his career and compare it to his average as an opener or 3 I’m sure it would read better. I don’t seem to remember him posting any imposing scores batting down the order.

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      • May 9th 2012 @ 7:29am
        Craig2 said | May 9th 2012 @ 7:29am | ! Report

        His average as an opener in tests is 43.7 which is good. He didn’t do well when he batted down the order – average of around 20 in 8 tests – but that was between 2005-08 and he is a far better batsman now. I think he should open probably with Warner or bat at 6 no lower or he is wasted. As for batting at no. 3, that can only be justified if he converts more of his 50s to 100s. His bowling has developed a lot in the last couple of years and his fielding is solid. Overall, he is an incredible asset to Australian cricket in any form of the game.

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