The Roar
The Roar


First drops are made, not found

Guess who? (AFP photo / Glyn Kirk)
Roar Guru
29th October, 2014

After his failure against Pakistan, the curse of the number three batsmen is set to add Alex Doolan to its list of victims.

Andrew Wu from the Sydney Morning Herald points out eight players have been tried in the number three position since the retirement of Ricky Ponting.

Shane Watson was the most successful, averaging 41.61 as the third batsman.

Shaun Marsh showed glimpses, and averaged 30.1 in the position. However, that average would be significantly worse if you take out his 141 against Sri Lanka. Usman Khawaja averaged 24.38 in 7 Tests in the position, and Phil Hughes averaged 37.2.

Other attempts to fill the position include Ed Cowan and Rob Quiney, and Michael Clarke had two innings.

So what made Watson more successful than the other candidates? Marsh and Khawaja have comparable, if not better techniques the Watson. No one knows if Hughes is unorthodox or batting on rollerblades.

The difference is that Watson had Test experience. He started batting at No.3 in 2012, having been on the Test scene since 2006. He had batted in both the middle order and as an opener before. That gave Watson the main traits that set a number three apart- confidence, resilience, and versatility.

The failures of the others could be a symptom of the falling standards of domestic cricket. David Boon and Justin Langer both debuted at No.3, and went on to open. However now it seems the step up from domestic cricket is a bit too high to get away with it.

So who now? Former captain and No.3 Ponting stated on cricinfo that it should be the best batsmen – that would be Michael Clarke. However, Pup has long resisted the urge to be a permanent number three and stayed in the middle order kennel. Maybe due to injury concerns, or wanting to cash in later in an innings, who knows.


I think he is the answer for the short term; however, selectors need to put someone in place as a long-term solution.

Perhaps stick with Doolan, or go to Hughes or Khawaja, but put them in the middle order and let them develop into a first drop. If they keep putting blokes straight in, the revolving door will keep spinning, and we will have gone through another team of batsmen before the next Ashes.