Watson is number one at number three

Ben Latham Roar Rookie

By Ben Latham, Ben Latham is a Roar Rookie

 , , ,

6 Have your say

    Shane Watson's believes players will give up money for more of a rest. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    Related coverage

    After scoring an emphatic century in the second innings of the third Ashes Test at the WACA on Monday, Shane Watson looks to have finally secured his place at first drop in the Australian batting order.

    Fans are convinced, critics remain skeptical, but what do the statistics say?

    Since Ricky Ponting was permanently demoted down the batting order from number three, during the tour of South Africa in November 2011, Australia has been desperately seeking to fill his shoes at first drop; let us call this period After Ponting (AP, similar to AD, but signifying the death of a messiah rather than the birth).

    During AP, Australia has fielded eight different batsmen in the number three position, collectively averaging a disappointing 27 runs from 47 innings.

    Compare this to Ricky Ponting who, in the number three position, averaged 55.95 runs.

    And what happens to an innings when you take out a dependable, rock-solid number three batsman, and replace him with a miserly 27 runs? The answer has been top order collapses, a systemic problem leaving Australian fans tearing their hair out.

    To measure the extent to which Australia’s top order has crumbled, one can look at the number of runs scored between the loss of the first and third wickets.

    During AP, this figure has only been 63.9 runs. It means after Australia’s opening partnership is broken, the number three and the rest of the top order are only able to pile on a bit more than a half-century before the opposition dangerously breaks into the middle order.

    This kind of figure can turn an excellent innings total in an average one, and a decent innings total into an absolute bloodbath.

    But how has Shane Watson fared?

    Of all eight batsmen trialed at the number three position since Ricky Ponting, Watson has scored the only two centuries and has the highest average; 42.5 runs from 14 innings, significantly higher than his current career batting average of 35.36.

    In 2013, this figure is even higher; from four Ashes Tests, at first drop, Watson has averaged 50.25 from eight innings.

    During these innings, the runs scored between the loss of the first and third wickets has also greatly improved, to 89.6 runs.

    Obviously this can also be contributed to other factors, such as the recent form of David Warner, but it’s fair to say since Watson has batted at first drop, those top order collapses seem to be history.

    There is no doubt Shane Watson is an easy pick in Australia’s top XI, but has Watson officially cemented his place in Australia’s top order?

    The jury is still out, but with no batsmen from the Sheffield Shield snapping at his heels, it looks like Watson is there to stay, at least for the time being.

    Do you find yourself logged out of The Roar?
    We have just switched over to a secure site (https). This means you will need to log-in afresh. If you need help with recovering your password, please get in contact.

    This video is trending right now! Submit your videos for the chance to win a share of $10,000!

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (6)

    • Roar Guru

      December 21st 2013 @ 12:03pm
      Tony Loedi said | December 21st 2013 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

      Yeah agree we have to use Watson because we don’t have any other options. Ideally i’d rather see Watto bat at 5 or 6 but having said that in his last 4 tests he has scored 2 centuries batting at 3, so that aint too bad

    • December 21st 2013 @ 2:23pm
      will cornwill said | December 21st 2013 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

      Should be dropped

    • December 21st 2013 @ 4:50pm
      Prosenjit majumdar said | December 21st 2013 @ 4:50pm | ! Report

      Don’t ignore the bowling value, he’s a good enough test match seamer..moving it nice and late in recent times.only thing is must be ready to bowl 15-20 overs every game.

    • December 21st 2013 @ 5:27pm
      Gr8rWeStr said | December 21st 2013 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

      Seems to be a convoluted attempt to spruik your man.

      The significance given to Watson’s two recent centuries against England is really the crux of debate, those two innings account for 18.6 (46%) of his current 40.26 average as a Test no. 3 for Australia. Nobody can deny that these centuries were made, firstly, against an inexperienced Test attack and then a depleted attack, one bowler down. Watson also has a very good overall record against England, his average in this Ashes series, the first he has batted consistently at 3 against them, is 33.33, his lowest in any series against them (2013: 41.80; 2010/11: 48.33; 2009: 48.00)

      Using a team figure to measure your significance in team collapse avoidance seems a stretch. Surely the individual criteria for this is, firstly, coming in when a collapse is still possible and, secondly, still being there when any collapse has been avoided.

      Seven times Watson has come in with the score less than 20, twice he has left with the score still under 20 and only once with the score above 100.

      Complete list of Watson Test entry – exit scores batting 3:
      1/50 – 4/133
      1/31 – 2/106
      1/53 – 5/178
      1/26 – 2/26
      1/1 – 2/84
      1/17 – 2/25
      1/3 – 2/18
      1/40 – 2/81
      1/11 – 4/289
      1/12 – 2/71
      1/67 – 2/75
      1/34 – 2/155
      1/4 – 2/4
      1/13 – 2/52
      1/157 – 5/331

    • December 22nd 2013 @ 4:22pm
      IndianCricketFan said | December 22nd 2013 @ 4:22pm | ! Report

      Yeah, right – Watson is #1 at something, Clarke is #1 at another and the fantasy list gets longer. Most of the fellas on this board don’t understand the technicalities of the game in the slightest and hence this drivel. DREAM ON OZ’S.

    • December 25th 2013 @ 6:50pm
      jammel said | December 25th 2013 @ 6:50pm | ! Report

      Watson at three (or opening) is just indicative of how bad things have been in the batting stakes for us over the past few years…! He is not a Test number three. His return given the opportunities he’s been given is poor – I think if they were accorded the same opportunities Cowan and Khawaja and Rogers and Hughes would all have far better records/numbers.

      Personally, I’d always have had Watson at #7 if fit and bowling. Haddin is a far better batsman and is definitely good enough at six – whether building an innings, counter attacking or saving an innings.

      Interestingly, I think if Watson had of focussed more on his bowling (while fit…) he might have put less pressure on his batting. I think he bats best when freed from responsibility, and you can’t have that in a number three – think Boon, Ponting, etc. and Langer and Steve Waugh when they batted three.

    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.

    , , ,