Watson should be dropped for the Fifth Test

Nick Inatey Roar Guru

By Nick Inatey, Nick Inatey is a Roar Guru

 , , ,

42 Have your say

    Australia's Shane Watson may have played his last Test. (AFP Photo/Paul Ellis)

    Related coverage

    The fifth Test starts tomorrow. It is Australia’s last chance to salvage something better than a draw in this series.

    Surely, the 3-0 score may flatter England a little bit at the moment, considering they got out of gaol in the third Test, and just got over the line in the first, but there is no denying that at key times, Australia have been comprehensively outplayed.

    The final Test should be the perfect occasion for Australia to pick its XI that it ideally would want England to play against in Brisbane.

    It’s a dead Test at The Oval. There’s no pressure on the Australians; the XI should treat this match as a chance to iron out a few Everest sized wrinkles and lay the foundations for the return series.

    In my hypothetical and perfect world, I would drop Shane Watson for the fifth Test.

    I’d drop Shane Watson not just because of his form, but because he is an injury risk. He limped off in the fourth Test, and despite his claims that he is fit again, he is clearly too much of a liability to warrant a spot in the team.

    In regards to his form, Shane Watson persists in the team only because of the team management’s belief that he will win matches.

    He has played seven Tests this year, and not even one innings by him with the bat or ball could be considered match-winning. This is namely due to the fact that Australia haven’t won any matches, but also because one single fifty in 2013 hardly screams, “I can win matches for you, pick me! PICK ME!”

    His tight bowling, while effective, is not match-winning. The four other bowlers have demonstrated that they can take wickets without him.

    He is an all-rounder who has all-round mediocre abilities at the moment.

    It’s time to cut him loose before another summer begins where he is either injured and we all bafflingly crave for his ‘talents’ to come to the fore, or he plays and continually under-performs, as empirical and anecdotal evidence suggests he will.

    Thanks for playing Shane.

    Keep Usman Khawaja.

    It’s a nothing Test, and only pride is on the line. Give the man a chance to play without the added burdens of saving a series. If he still can’t deliver, then let him go. But I back him to deliver this time, with far less pressure on his shoulders.

    So, who would replace Watson and form the third layer of foundation? My suggestion: Simon Katich.

    The man is in form, and Australia desperately need some added experience at the top. He could come in as an opener, with Rogers dropping down to three.

    Smith and Khawaja can then build some time and confidence down at number five or six where they really belong at the moment. The added bonus of Katich is that he will fill the experience void left by Watson, and has a proven track record of success.

    There is no space for Phil Hughes in this team. Talent and experience leave no space for him. It is patently clear that Hughes, Khawaja and Smith cannot be in the same team together. But I won’t close the door on his career just yet.

    Realistically, we could expect no more than two seasons of usefulness by either Katich or Rogers, and that isn’t a problem. Hopefully by January 2015, Hughes or someone else in the Shield will be experienced enough and technically sound and ready to step up to Test cricket.

    This is a perfectly reasonably expectation to have. Should Hughes be ready (at last), then Katich/Rogers can vacate their spot in the side.

    Michael Clarke should remain in the team, of course. But friends, we need to stop expecting him to churn out centuries. Purple patches won’t last forever.

    There’s no need for an all-rounder in the side. Australia rarely wins with an all-rounder in the team (see 2013 results as evidence!). Six batsmen, a keeper and four bowlers is the right combination.

    Brad Haddin should remain the keeper for now. Matthew Wade is just not up to Test match scratch. I would see how Tim Paine goes in the Shield before the first Test.

    Ryan Harris must play the fifth Test and then be rested from any ODI commitments between now and the first Test in Brisbane. Six Shield games are being played before the Brisbane Test. Harris should play three of them to stay Test-match fit.

    Nathan Lyon remains as the lone spinner in the side. He will be very useful in Brisbane and has the added advantage of being able to take more than two wickets (see Ashton Agar).

    Peter Siddle, James Pattinson (when he gets fit), Mitchell Starc and Jackson Bird should be involved in a healthy competition for the final two spots. This is one of the rare shining moments for the Australian team, the rich stocks of capable fast bowlers.

    This XI, I think has a healthy mixture of experience, youngsters and good bowlers, and can reinvent itself as a transition team by letting players like Hughes sort himself out in the Shield and permanently casting away unfulfilled potential that is Watson.

    This XI won’t win every match, but it would be competitive and can hang on for just a few years so that there is a proper base to evenly introduce talent and regenerate a production line again.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (42)

    • August 21st 2013 @ 3:19am
      JimmyB said | August 21st 2013 @ 3:19am | ! Report

      Bad luck mate, he’s in at number 3. Go figure.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 9:08am
        Nick Inatey said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:08am | ! Report

        Yeah, timing of this article being published kinda killed me a bit.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 9:19am
          Chris said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:19am | ! Report

          Just curious, how long between you submitting it and it being published?

          • August 21st 2013 @ 9:28am
            Nick Inatey said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:28am | ! Report

            Wasn’t noticing to be honest.

          • Roar Guru

            August 21st 2013 @ 12:37pm
            Steven McBain said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

            It’s actually quite difficult on the timings unless you’re based in Oz – it is of course an Aussie website! I’ve just submitted an article here at 10.30am Singapore time so 12.30 East Coast time but I’m pretty sure it will not be published until tomorrow.

            Seems that unless it is on the doorstep first thing East Coast morning it gets held up by a day and I don’t think anything submitted on a Saturday or Sunday will get published until Monday although I could be wrong on that, only been submitting for a week or so now.

      • August 24th 2013 @ 11:07am
        kevin martin said | August 24th 2013 @ 11:07am | ! Report

        176 runs for a batsman you didn’t want in the team, ouch!!!

    • August 21st 2013 @ 3:53am
      Hookin' YT said | August 21st 2013 @ 3:53am | ! Report

      “Keep Usman Khawaja. It’s a nothing Test, and only pride is on the line. Give the man a chance to play without the added burdens of saving a series.”

      Don’t bring logic into it. The Bogan From Ipswich is batting No3. Rejoice!

      After reading Clarke’s wankfest on ABC this AM I hope they get slaughtered.

      “This is not a charity tour. It’s not about giving blokes a go and hoping for the best,” Really Clarkey? What about Watson?

      • August 21st 2013 @ 10:16am
        Matt said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        “The Bogan fom Ipswich” – I didn’t realise Paulie Hanson had been selected for the Fifth Test. Oh, THAT bogan from Ipswich!! – I love it now that I get it!!

      • August 21st 2013 @ 11:08am
        Disco said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:08am | ! Report

        Quite. Watson is a farce and Clarke’s captaincy leaves a lot to be desired.

    • Roar Guru

      August 21st 2013 @ 6:27am
      JGK said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:27am | ! Report

      Because Watson can’t bowl, they’ve dropped Uzzie for Faulkner but kept Watson..

      The whole thing is bizarre.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 11:10am
        Disco said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:10am | ! Report

        But I suspect the thinking is that ‘Watto’ is potentially a match-winner with X-factor.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 2:20pm
        Dan Ced said | August 21st 2013 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

        Watto top scored for us in the tour match, while everybody else failed. It’s as simple as that I fear.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 7:48am
      Johnno said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:48am | ! Report

      Watson should be dropped and stamped never to play test cricket for Australia again.
      T20 and ODI yes, but not test. Ed Cowan is useless too. Katich was the answer a very capable no 3.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 10:19am
        Matt said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:19am | ! Report

        My thoughts Exactly. Agree with Nick even more in spite of the timing of the article.

        Has failed as a batsman, bowler, injury risk, sook, waster of reviews and negative influence in the dressing room.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 10:42am
          Johnno said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:42am | ! Report

          +1 completely agree.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 11:11am
          Disco said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:11am | ! Report

          “Has failed as a batsman”. Spot on; and we’re not just talking three spells of three Test matches here.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 7:52am
      blocker said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:52am | ! Report

      Was this written by Rev Kev?

      • August 21st 2013 @ 8:18am
        Red Kev said | August 21st 2013 @ 8:18am | ! Report

        A tip might be where it says “By Nick Inatey”.
        Furthermore there is no poster on these forums called Rev Kev.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 10:32am
      Tim said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:32am | ! Report

      On the bright side for the Watson haters, by giving Faulkner a run at least they are trialling an alternative for the all-rounder position. If he does manage to get some wickets and score runs, then he can put his hand up for Watson’s spot as an all-rounder. We could argue about the need for an all-rounder, but Boof has made it pretty clear that he thinks we need a fifth bowler at the moment – possibly because our best bowler is the injury prone Harris (though they all seem injury prone these days). Then Watson would need to justify his spot on batting alone, which would be more difficult – but of course, Smith, Khawaja and Hughes would still need to actually score more runs than Watson to take his spot. I know you disagree, but it seems pretty clear that the selectors won’t drop Watson until someone actually performs better – so the next batsman in the firing line to be dropped will be Smith unless he lifts his game. Clarke’s comments indicates that their selection stance is not to pick and stick – they won’t persevere (beyond 3 tests at least) on the basis of potential alone. And yes, Watson is only averaging 27 this series – but surely that should have made it easy for Smith, Khawaja or Hughes to do better, yet they have all failed.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 10:38am
        Red Kev said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:38am | ! Report

        Faulkner isn’t an allrounder, he is a bowler who can bat a bit – much like Starc and Pattinson (he’s no better than them with the willow). He doesn’t even have a first-class century, sorry but a test match allrounder has to be capable of making a triple figure score and taking a five-for (not necessarily in the same match).

        • August 21st 2013 @ 11:17am
          Tim said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:17am | ! Report

          That’s a fair enough definition for a true word-class all-rounder, but we don’t have one and haven’t for years – yet they keep persisting anyway (including Henriques, the No Show, etc). I don’t agree with picking an all rounder, but after the fourth test Boof said the selectors believe that at the moment we need a fifth bowler. So it is just a matter of picking the best available candidate – which gives Faulkner a chance to audition for this role. Given that Watson, Hughes, Khawaja and Smith are averaging sub-30 this series, Faulkner doesn’t need to be scoring centuries straight away (as long as he shows some fight with the bat). If you want Watson out of the side, then you have to settle for the best available replacement (because Watson is being picked as an all-rounder). Of course, Bird was also dropped for Faulkner – they are playing Starc because he is a better bat and we have a very long tail (arguably starting at no. 5 !).
          Watson debates aside, they picked Faulkner because he scored as many runs as Hughes, Khawaja and Smith (who all disappointed yet again) in the last tour game, and more importantly fights for his wicket which was a quality sorely lacking in the fourth test collapse. At least if he fails with the bat he can still contribute with the ball.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 12:17pm
            Red Kev said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

            This is the crux of the issue “…the selectors believe that at the moment we need a fifth bowler…”
            The selectors are wrong.

            • August 21st 2013 @ 2:39pm
              Tim said | August 21st 2013 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

              I agree – pick your best 6 batsmen (irrespective of age), best 4 bowlers and best keeper (not keeper- batsman). Instead this series we have played 5 batsmen (7 different players) , 1 all rounder, and a keeper-batsman . Problem is that 5 out of the 7 batsmen are averaging 30 or less this series, as is the all-rounder and the keeper-batsman. You won’t convince the selectors to replace the all-rounder when the specialist batsmen are worse (and we have injury prone bowlers).
              It seems obvious that they need to pick different batsmen – but they are rotating the same failed cattle in the tour group – England cleverly neutralised our policy of picking too many left handers who can’t play spin by preparing spinning wickets for Swann – so Cowan, Hughes and Khawaja all look likely to fail once again.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 10:53am
        Nick Inatey said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:53am | ! Report

        Tim, Australia does not need an allrounder, let alone 2 in the same test.

        Boof, in my mind has lost what very little credibility he had to begin with.

        Boof was responsible for selecting Agar. That was a mistake.
        Boof was responsible for putting Watson at the top of the order. That was a mistake.
        Boof was meant to ‘shake things up’. The best result he has to his name is a draw.
        Boof selected Starc when Bird should have played the first test. That was a mistake.

        Honestly, what has Boof or Watson done that has been beneficial to this team?

        • August 21st 2013 @ 11:16am
          Disco said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:16am | ! Report

          Well said. The Boof love-in’s never had any basis.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 11:43am
          Tim said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:43am | ! Report

          Nick, I’m not advocating 2 all-rounders (or even one), just saying that Boof has previously said the selectors want a 5th bowler.
          So if you want to replace Watson, someone else needs to be the fifth bowling option (and Clarke has shown no faith in Smith so he is not the option).

          I’m not defending Boof (go for your life at sledging him), but in fairness:
          – Agar did nearly win us the first test (our failure was with the bat not ball so Lyon would not have done better). Only a handful of runs between being a genius move or a failure.
          – Watson wasn’t a total failure at the top of the order – he and Rogers had an average opening partnership of 49 which is much better than the poms and still slightly better than Warner/Rogers
          – Starc vs Bird – maybe that selection did cost us the first test, but really we lost for two reasons – Ian Bells’ second inning century and our poor batting. In the fourth test, Bird was unable to stop Bell from repeating his match winning 2nd innings century, and again our batting fell short. If you were choosing between Bird and Starc to bolster the batting, who would you pick? Unfortunately Starc failed twice in the first test with the bat, but it was reasonable to expect him to contribute more than Bird with the bat. Maybe if Starc has played the fourth test, we would have gotten the runs…

          Boof is not my hero, but Arthur was going downhiil – did you read his comments yesterday where he said that was managing team culture by giving everyone a “booklet” on team standards? At least there are no poor “team culture ” or in-fighting excuses this series – just poor form….

          • August 21st 2013 @ 1:34pm
            Nick Inatey said | August 21st 2013 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

            You should never pick a bowler based on who will hit more runs. you pick who will get more wickets.

            And this pick of Agar is not a miracle pick, and nor should Boof be praised for it. If he thought Agar was going to get 98 and star with the batting, why would Boof have him come in at 11? A genius move would have been selecting Agar at 6,7 or 8…and not as the replacement spinner as he so obviously was.

            • August 21st 2013 @ 2:16pm
              Tim said | August 21st 2013 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

              True enough for picking specialist bowlers Nick – I would have stuck with Khawaja and Bird. I do agree with playing Katich by the way, but probably not for a dead rubber – he should have played in the third test for mine.
              Like most of us, at some stage my frustration with the continual failures of the top 6 made me think we might as well pick a bowler who can bat – he can’t do any worse – but that is just momentary and I would have seen the flaws with that approach in practice.
              But in fairness to the selectors, it just seems that Khawaja has his confidence shot at the moment – and that is not surprising, because he wasn’t really in good form in the pre-test tour games – he then failed 5 out of 6 times in the tests and then, instead of rebuilding his confidence, failed against the weaker English Lions attack. Hughes scratched around for an ugly 30 in that tour game – basically the same score as Faulkner (who was not out) – so I think that in frustration with the continued poor showings from the 3 left handed batting specialists (including Cowan), they decided to try someone new (also a right hander so less at risk against Swann hopefully) rather than put Hughes back in yet again. Unfortunately Bird is the domino effect and didn’t deserve to be dropped.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 7:52pm
          Blade Pakkiri said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:52pm | ! Report

          Do you think that Bird is better than Starc? I’m truly interested to know your thoughts. Because from whatever I saw of Bird in the 4th test, he never threatened to take wickets and was actually quite profligate in his bowling. Starc has been accused of releasing the pressure valve all too often. But Bird was no better, in fact he was worse cause he wasn’t threatening either.

          For the record I’m Indian and haven’t seen Bird play much. So I might be wrong. I believe that Starc is better than Bird. And it’s a pity that he doesn’t get an extended run. Look at this record:
          Played Chennai, Dropped Hyderabad, Played Mohali, Dropped Delhi, Played Birmingham, Dropped Lords, Played Manchester, Dropped Durham, Played Oval.
          I really think this is very unfair to Starc. Either give him an extended run or drop him completely and ask him to work on his shortcomings.

    , , ,