Shane Watson is underperforming

Glenn Mitchell Columnist

By Glenn Mitchell, Glenn Mitchell is a Roar Expert

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    Shane Watson has made plenty of headlines lately with questions about his fitness, ability to bowl and best position in the batting order.

    But the bottom line is that, wherever and however he is used, Watson needs to perform.

    There is no doubting his ability from a technical standpoint, but it is fair to say that Watson has underachieved, especially in the batting department.

    With Michael Clarke’s dicky back a constant worry for the national selectors, vice captain Watson could find himself thrust into the top job at any time.

    One of Clarke’s greatest strengths as captain has been his ability to take his own game to a new level.

    Since assuming the mantle as Test skipper, he has scored three double centuries and a triple while boasting a batting average of 68.1.

    While he is yet to carry the responsibility of captaincy, it is high time for Watson to produce on a far more regular basis.

    There is no doubt that injury has marred his continuity in the baggy green, with the third Test against South Africa at the WACA his first on home soil since January 2011.

    But when Watson has been in the side recently, his performances have largely been below par.

    In a Test career which now spans 36 matches, he has a batting average of just 36.9.

    One of the more worrying aspects of his batting is his inability to make opponents pay once he gets settled at the crease.

    The fact that Watson has scored just two centuries from the 20 times he has surpassed 50 at Test level is a massive blight on his game.

    He has currently gone 30 Test innings without a century – hardly acceptable for a top-order batsman.

    In his past 11 Tests (21 innings), he has scored 552 runs at a paltry average of 26.3, during which time he has made eight single figure scores, including three ducks.

    In the one day arena, Watson has proven himself to be a far more valuable batsman, with an average of 41.5 and a rapid fire strike rate of 88.

    He holds the record for the highest one day score by an Australian – 185 not out against Bangladesh in Dhaka.

    At times his belligerent and prolific scoring at one day level seems to mask the fans’ view of his Test form.

    He has proven himself to be an effective bowler in the longer form, with a creditable career record of 60 wickets at 29.2.

    His recent form, however, has not been flattering, excepting one performance against South Africa in Cape Town late last year where he captured 5/17 in the highly abbreviated Test which featured Australia’s ignominious innings of 47.

    In his past 11 Tests he has produced 18 wickets at 26.9, however if you remove that one innings in Cape Town his return is far less impressive – 13 wickets at 35.9.

    Watson has been told that he will most likely bat at four in the forthcoming series against Sri Lanka, to which he responded: “It’s taken me a few days to get my head around that, but it means I can bowl a few more overs”.

    Here’s hoping that his often fragile body is up to the task.

    At 31 years of age, and as deputy to Clarke, it is time for Watson to impose his presence on opposing sides.

    On both fronts – batting and bowling – he has to find consistency and the ability to put the opposition under pressure.

    As one of the senior members of the squad, for Watson the time is now.

    Glenn Mitchell
    Glenn Mitchell

    After 21 years as a sports broadcaster with the ABC, since mid-2011 Glenn Mitchell has been freelancing in the electronic and written media. He is an ambassador for mental health in Australia, and tweets from @mitchellglenn.

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    The Crowd Says (36)

    • December 9th 2012 @ 3:00am
      Johnno said | December 9th 2012 @ 3:00am | ! Report

      Shane Watson is being mucked around.

      • Columnist

        December 9th 2012 @ 2:12pm
        Brett McKay said | December 9th 2012 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

        Mucked around or not, Johnno, he’s not exactly helping his own cause either….

      • December 9th 2012 @ 9:25pm
        Duncan Gering said | December 9th 2012 @ 9:25pm | ! Report

        Watson is being mucked about only because the selectors have decided he HAS to be in the side and they have picked him out of position. His returns as on opener are abysmal (that might be a little strong), even Warner and Hughes have more centuries in less than half number the tests.
        So what if he won the AB Medal, all that proves is he performed marginally better than everyone else, and that fact that he has a golden arm (when he does roll it over) certainly doesn’t hurt the cause.
        Until he fixes his head (history tells me this can’t happen) and bats and bats and bats (this either), and bowls a bit too, he’s never going to rate a top 5 spot in the team, not in my view.

    • December 9th 2012 @ 9:02am
      roarr said | December 9th 2012 @ 9:02am | ! Report

      I can see what’s going to happen. A poor Sri Lankan side will paper over the fairly large cracks in the Aust batting and bowling line ups and will fill the nation with inflated confidence.

      Then… we’ll get brought back to reality in June/July when the poms destroy our top order and Alastair Cook gets 7 million runs against Siddle/Lyon/Starc

      • December 9th 2012 @ 9:26pm
        Duncan Gering said | December 9th 2012 @ 9:26pm | ! Report


      • December 10th 2012 @ 6:46am
        Talisman said | December 10th 2012 @ 6:46am | ! Report

        roarr, what if this supposedly poor Sri Lankan side actually beat us or at least give us a fright? Those cracks won’t be papered over then. A quick appraisal of this Ozzie side is: brittle top order, bowling (whoever is fit) struggles to take 20 wickets & fielding seems to have dropped away over the last few years. That’s not a recipe for victory. As for your second para totally agree no matter who we send. The selectors imo have failed to find sufficient new talented batsmen, the bowlers while exciting & good can’t get on the park & the selection process is compromised.

      • December 10th 2012 @ 5:49pm
        Rob from Brumby Country said | December 10th 2012 @ 5:49pm | ! Report

        Just on an aside, how good is Alastair Cook’s form? We haven’t been hearing about it because of Michael Clarke’s heroics, but Cook has evolved into an incredibly good batsman. He’s scored over 7000 runs and 23 centuries at an average over 50, and he’s only 27 years old!

        For comparison, by the same age, Clarke had scored just under 4000 runs at an average below 50. And Clarke has never had to face McGrath or Warne!

        Cook is much, much better than most people are prepared to rate him. We are going to have a lot of trouble with him.

    • December 9th 2012 @ 9:10am
      Rhys said | December 9th 2012 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      Watson often has that look about him of someone who isn’t enjoying what they’re doing. He kind of lumbers and lurches about, with the look of a bored and grumpy child etched within his facial expressions.

      We’ve all been there, not wanting to be at work – much rather be going for a surf, or parked in front of the tele – that anywhere but doing this feeling. Shane Watson has the demeanour of a dissatisfied employee. Maybe he’s not happy about his duty statement, now that it doesn’t include the words ‘opening batter’.

    • December 9th 2012 @ 11:02am
      Dcnz said | December 9th 2012 @ 11:02am | ! Report

      I have been watching England maul India in the third test …I just don’t see Watson thriving vs the discipline and skill of Anderson Finn Monty and Swann….no easy gimmes there for Watto ….

    • December 9th 2012 @ 11:05am
      The Kebab Connoisseur said | December 9th 2012 @ 11:05am | ! Report

      He is playing hurt, out of practice and too high up the batting order. He is a #6 or #7.

      We need to look at our selectors, they do NOT know what they are doing. Who keeps hiring these clowns?

      • December 10th 2012 @ 10:27am
        jameswm said | December 10th 2012 @ 10:27am | ! Report

        That’s a very good question.

      • Columnist

        December 10th 2012 @ 12:19pm
        Glenn Mitchell said | December 10th 2012 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

        Accusing the likes of Rod Marsh and John Inverarity of being “clowns” is somewhat harsh.

        • December 10th 2012 @ 12:21pm
          Red Kev said | December 10th 2012 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

          I thought it was fairly apt – if the comically oversized shoe fits…

          • December 10th 2012 @ 4:45pm
            Nick Inatey said | December 10th 2012 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

            Drop him. He is 31 and always injured. At best he has 2 more spineless years to play.

            His performances in Perth were embarassing and speak volumes of a man who would prefer to selfishly angle his way into the team half fit than be the bigger man and sit out until he is fully fit (or acquired some talent). He stood at first slip when his fellow bowlers were being trounced: selfish, arrogant and pathetic.

    • December 9th 2012 @ 11:39am
      Lukeling said | December 9th 2012 @ 11:39am | ! Report

      The worrying thing for me in your article Glenn is that if Clarke is out for injury then Watson will captain Australia. That is depressing & I had never given that a thought before.

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