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Confusion, madness reign supreme in Australian cricket

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    Australian Cricket selector John Inverarity speaks with spin bowler Nathan Lyon. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

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    It’s been a confusing couple of days in Australian cricket. After reading some of the comments in the media, one can only assume that a temporary case of madness has descended over the sport.

    First of all, we had Cricket Australia’s High Performance Manager, Pat Howard, and Test captain Michael Clarke stating that all-rounder Shane Watson would need to be fit enough to bowl in order to be selected for the second Test against South Africa.

    However, Watson has since confirmed that he won’t be bowling in Adelaide, yet confusingly said that he maintains hope he would still be selected for the Adelaide Test after rejoining the squad this week.

    Even more confusing, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Selection Chairman John Inverarity stated Watson could play as a specialist batsmen, provided he could prove his fitness. This obviously dramatically contradicts what Howard and Clarke said.

    It certainly seems that not everyone is on the same page at Cricket Australia.

    Yet it’s not just those within the inner sanctum that have been saying some strange things.

    Respected cricket writer Malcolm Conn suggested that Watson is not good enough to be selected as a top six batsmen for Australia, and that Rob Quiney should therefore retain his position in the team.

    Come again?

    Before I launch my spirited defence of Watson, let me first clarify that if Watson cannot bowl due to his calf strain, then I don’t believe he should be selected. But not because he isn’t one of Australia’s top six batsmen, but because it clearly means he’s not 100% healthy.

    If there are question marks over your ability to send down a few overs, then you are obviously not 100% fit.

    As a top order batsmen, it is expected that you should be sufficiently healthy enough to bat an entire day – something I struggle to believe you could do if you have not completely overcome your injury concerns.

    However, I’m no medical specialist, so I spoke to respected Sydney physiotherapist John Panagopoulos from Active Physiotherapy.

    Panagopoulos has worked with numerous cricket teams around the world during Twenty20 tournaments, along with having an affiliation with the Sydney Cricket Club.

    Understandably, Panagopoulos can’t diagnose Watson from media reports. However, he did tell me that it’s reasonable to think that if Watson can’t bowl, then he can’t be 100% fit, and may have issues running, sprinting in the field, and turning quickly when batting.

    So I have no drama in Watson remaining out of the side if he isn’t fit enough to bowl. But only because it suggests he’s not fit enough to bat and/or field either, especially for a five day match.

    However, that doesn’t translate to Watson suddenly not being one of Australia’s best six batsmen.

    Especially when the player nominated as a better candidate was Rob Quiney. I’m sorry, but by any calculation, that is sheer madness.

    I thought Quiney appeared comfortable during his short time at the crease at the Gabba, and Conn said he believed he deserved another chance because he looked ‘polished’. I have no idea when ‘comfortable’ and ‘polished’ became the standard on which batsmen were judged.

    Without being rude, I think it’s important to remember that Quiney scored a measly nine runs. Yet you would think he scored 99 the way some experts are suggesting he should take Watson’s spot.

    I have nothing against Quiney. I enjoy watching him bat, and was very pleased he got selected, for he thoroughly deserved it. However, he’s simply not in Watson’s class.

    Quiney averages 37 in first class cricket. Watson averages 44. Quiney averages 9 in Test cricket. Watson averages 37. And let’s not even discuss Watson’s awards, accolades and accomplishments at the elite level.

    Case closed. Nothing more to see here. Jog along.

    You could argue that Watson doesn’t convert his starts into big hundreds, and I would agree. You can state that Watson has only averaged 25 runs in five Tests over the last 12 months, and you would be right.

    But if you tell me that Quiney is a better batsmen or more accomplished than Watson, I think we’re going to have a serious disagreement.

    I have no issue with Quiney taking Watson’s spot if the latter is unhealthy, but that doesn’t mean the Victorian is a better batsmen.

    Rule Watson out if he’s injured, but don’t claim he’s not one of Australia’s best batsmen. His record may not be exceptional, but his class is undeniable and Australia do not have an abundance of talented batsmen at present.

    While on the subject of madness, riddle me this, those that say Watson should be fit enough to bowl to get selected, but are happy to see him bat number three if he is: if Shane Watson truly is not one of Australia’s top six batsmen, what the hell is he doing batting at first drop, arguably the most important position in the team?

    Just to round off the madness, last week Mitchell Johnson stated that he was ready for a Test recall in Adelaide.

    I respect Johnson’s positive outlook and I love that the fact he still has ambitions to make it back into the Test arena, but to be blunt, he’s a fair way down the fast bowling pecking order at present.

    There is nothing to suggest that if Johnson finds some consistent form and takes a bagful of wickets that he couldn’t wear the baggy green again. But for him to suggest it could have been for the second Test this week is slightly embarrassing, along with a little disrespectful to the many bowlers currently ranked ahead of him.

    They say cricket is funny old game, and it’s certainly been a funny old couple of days.

    Ryan O
    Ryan O'Connell

    Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.

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    The Crowd Says (73)

    • November 20th 2012 @ 7:00am
      pope paul v11 said | November 20th 2012 @ 7:00am | ! Report

      Khawaja is better than Watto, Quiney, Cowan and Warner. He’s probably better than Ponting and Hussey but we will never no because they don’t like him. That is nuts.

      • November 20th 2012 @ 9:19am
        Christo the Daddyo said | November 20th 2012 @ 9:19am | ! Report


        • November 20th 2012 @ 9:19am
          Christo the Daddyo said | November 20th 2012 @ 9:19am | ! Report

          And he’s in form too.

      • Columnist

        November 20th 2012 @ 10:24am
        Ryan O'Connell said | November 20th 2012 @ 10:24am | ! Report

        I don’t think Khawaja should have been dropped, as I’ve said before. But I’m not sure I can agree that he’s a better batsmen than Watson, Ponting or Hussey. Better than Quiney, Cowan and Warner? I would tend to agree with you.

    • November 20th 2012 @ 8:15am
      Jason said | November 20th 2012 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      Malcolm Conn is a respected writer?

      • November 20th 2012 @ 9:22am
        Quality said | November 20th 2012 @ 9:22am | ! Report

        Jason, I thought the same thing! I generally go with the opposite of whatever Conn writes…

      • Columnist

        November 20th 2012 @ 10:25am
        Ryan O'Connell said | November 20th 2012 @ 10:25am | ! Report

        I don’t always agree with what Malcolm Conn writes or says – in fact I quite often completely disagree – but I respect his opinions and writing nonetheless.

      • Roar Guru

        November 20th 2012 @ 11:04am
        TheGenuineTailender said | November 20th 2012 @ 11:04am | ! Report

        I despise the Conn artist. 99% of the crap he writes is exactly that, crap, its rubbish, its a story for the sake of it and for the sake of me, I cannot tell you what’s going on in that guys head some times. The ‘opinions’ he comes up with are well and truly beyond me.

    • Columnist

      November 20th 2012 @ 8:38am
      Brett McKay said | November 20th 2012 @ 8:38am | ! Report

      All valid points here mate and I have to agree with you entirely. Watson saying he hopes to be selected as a bat still, to me at least, smacks of a player trying to talk up his fitness if anything, and it’s hard to think of this as being anything other than selfish. He claims to know his body well, yet is willing to risk further injury batting and fielding? That’s even more madness..

      The ‘is he in the top six?’ angle seems to be focussing on his conversion rate as a top order bat (still only two 100s, and bloody heaps of 50s), and to a degree, I agree with that. But then I saw something last night that said Warner has only three scores above 50, so therefore if Watson’s figures are coming under scrutiny, then he shouldn’t be alone. But if Quiney’s 9 has suddenly thrust him into the top six, then it truly was the best nine runs scored in the history of cricket!

      Robert Craddock had an interesting take on the Watson situation last night on Inside Cricket, that being that Clarke isn’t backing or doesn’t want Watson to return. I’m not sure about that – they have a long history as teammates going back to being C and VC of the Aust U19s – but certainly Clarke doesn’t seem to be prepared to take a risk on anyone not 100% fit…

      • Columnist

        November 20th 2012 @ 10:35am
        Ryan O'Connell said | November 20th 2012 @ 10:35am | ! Report

        Watson hasn’t even completed full training drills or flat out running yet, but he says he’ll be right to bat? I appreciate that he just wants to get back out there, but that is more sheer madness. And you’re right, it’s a little selfish.

        The lack of heat on Warner is a little surprising. I know he’s a crowd favourite, but his record is starting to look questionable. Especially if the blowtorch is being applied to Watson’s average/numbers/conversion rates.

        I think Clarke would remember the mistake the selectors made last time South Africa was out here. They picked Andrew Symonds under an injury could, and from memory he broke down on the first day. The team was forced to hide him in the field and not bowl him, even though he was the designated all-rounder. Clarke won’t want a repeat of that under his captaincy.

        • Columnist

          November 20th 2012 @ 7:21pm
          Brett McKay said | November 20th 2012 @ 7:21pm | ! Report

          just quickly on this mate, Ponting today in Adelaide has repeated the ‘no-one should play under an injury cloud’ angle that Clarke has said last week, so maybe Crash Craddock is onto something with his thoughts on Watson being on the outer??

          • Columnist

            November 20th 2012 @ 7:55pm
            Ryan O'Connell said | November 20th 2012 @ 7:55pm | ! Report

            Maybe, mate. I recorded Inside Cricket, so I’ll watch Crash’s comment later on.

            I personally think its simply a case of Ponting and Clarke remembering the Symonds fiasco and how baldly it hurt the team, and not wanting to repeat the mistake. Clarke is also under more pressure for these decisions now that he is a selector, and I’m sure he doesn’t want to be caught with his pants down (so to speak).

            • November 20th 2012 @ 8:12pm
              lolly said | November 20th 2012 @ 8:12pm | ! Report

              Punter is the last person who should be saying that sort of thing. He’s played injured often enough. He did it in the last World Cup and in the Ashes 2010. I guess 100% fitness is always more important when you are talking about someone else.

              • Columnist

                November 20th 2012 @ 8:32pm
                Ryan O'Connell said | November 20th 2012 @ 8:32pm | ! Report

                That’s a fair enough point, lolly. Ponting has played many times when less than a 100%. You could argue that it’s a slightly different case, but really, it’s slightly hypocritical of him.

    • November 20th 2012 @ 8:46am
      Red Kev said | November 20th 2012 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      Top six or not is a tough call, regardless he is in the top ten and with his excellent bowling added in that makes him a certain selection.
      If he’s not fit enough to bowl he’s not fit enough to bat for 6 hours and therefore not fit enough to play. I like the not gambling on someone who isn’t 100% fit stance.

      • November 20th 2012 @ 9:10am
        Jason said | November 20th 2012 @ 9:10am | ! Report

        Agree. This isn’t a must win est but Perth is likely to be. So makes surece is fit and ready to go there.

      • November 20th 2012 @ 11:03am
        Bayman said | November 20th 2012 @ 11:03am | ! Report

        Red Kev,

        Re Watson being fit enough to bat for six hours – when has he ever done that? Which is precisely why he should never bat in the top five – let alone the top three.

        • November 20th 2012 @ 12:05pm
          Red Kev said | November 20th 2012 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

          I’d play him at no.6 too, but he has to at least have the capability of batting an entire day.

    • November 20th 2012 @ 9:12am
      sledgeross said | November 20th 2012 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      Yeah Brett, Crash Craddock was certainly interesting last night, made somebig calls.

      Ryan, ideally, where do you think Watson should bat? I would like to see him at 6 personally, a 50 is sometimes more vital down there than opening. All he does opening is score 50s and run partners out (poor old Kat, enjoy Lancashire!)

      • Columnist

        November 20th 2012 @ 10:38am
        Ryan O'Connell said | November 20th 2012 @ 10:38am | ! Report

        I’d like him at 5 or 6, Sledgeross. It enables him to rest a little between innings if we need him to bowl, and I agree that a 50 down there is more valuable. Especially if they’re going to pick Warner as an opener.

        • November 20th 2012 @ 11:36am
          Jason said | November 20th 2012 @ 11:36am | ! Report

          He’s just about the best player of fast bowling in the country so it has to be in the top 3.

        • November 21st 2012 @ 11:25am
          Christo the Daddyo said | November 21st 2012 @ 11:25am | ! Report

          Actually, batting him at the top order gives him plenty of time to rest – seeing as he never comes close to carrying his bat through an innings!

    • November 20th 2012 @ 9:27am
      Brian said | November 20th 2012 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      If i was watto i would be extremely upset at being discarded for Quiney because i can’t bowl.

      I’ve spent the last 4 years being your best player. I single handedly carried you to the world cup semis in September and now your putting ahead a guy who made 9 because too often I’ve made 99. Clarke aside who has batter better than me. We carried Ponting, Hussey, Cowan, Haddin for how long?

      Yes if i was watto i would say its all about the team but would definately remember all this next time an IPL contract comes around.

      • Columnist

        November 20th 2012 @ 10:39am
        Ryan O'Connell said | November 20th 2012 @ 10:39am | ! Report

        To be fair Brian, I don’t think he has been left out for Quiney, I think he’s been left out because he’s not 100% healthy.

        • November 20th 2012 @ 3:33pm
          Brian said | November 20th 2012 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

          If thats the case fair enough but someone needs to tell Watson rather than having him declared fit to bat and compete with Quiney

          • Columnist

            November 20th 2012 @ 8:00pm
            Ryan O'Connell said | November 20th 2012 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

            I agree, that’s fair enough. Watson is clearly under the impression he’s still a chance to be selected as a specialist batsmen, even though his captain, ex-captain and the high performance manager have all said that’s not going to happen.

            That’s farcical.

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