Shane Watson got out twice leg-before-wicket at Cardiff. No surprise, I hear you say, as throughout his career he has been dismissed in that fashion on average 30 per cent of the time.
When you dissect his career further the stats look even more problematic for the remainder of this series.
His twin lbw dismissals in the opening Test took his dismissal ratio by that means in England to a ridiculous 59 per cent. That’s right, in his 17 Test innings in England – all of which have ended in dismissal – he has been trapped in front 10 times.
Of his other dismissals, all seven have been caught, two of them by the ‘keeper. Each time his leg-before dismissal has come while facing a right-arm pace bowler.
Yes, you guessed it, the current England pace bowling barrage is made up of three right-arm quicks – James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood. Make it four when you throw in all-rounder Ben Stokes.
Broad has dismissed Watson leg-before four times and Anderson once. Wood joined the list in the second innings at Cardiff.
Put simply, if you wanted to make a film about Watson’s batting in England you would get Bill Murray to play his part and title it “Groundhog Day”. Of all the venues in the world, Watson’s technique is least favoured in English conditions against English bowlers.
His modus operandi of plonking his left foot straight down the pitch is manna from heaven for the England quicks, who make merry at his expense with variations of swing and cut.
Australian bowling coach Craig McDermott intimated on the eve of the first Test that Watson would get the nod for the all-rounder sport ahead of Mitch Marsh. McDermott’s theory was: “With the fourth seamer only bowling 10-15 overs tops, depending on how they’re bowling and how the other guys are going, his control is excellent.”
“He’s a lot more experienced and has been around for a long time so you’d expect his control and everything else to be better.”
Oddly, while Australia were bleeding runs in the first innings at Cardiff, Watson sent down just eight overs for figures of 0-24. His run per over rate of 3.0 was the best of the Australians in an innings where England rollicked along at a rate of 4.2 for the innings.
The other pace bowlers fared considerably worse – Mitchell Starc 4.7, Mitchell Johnson 4.4 and Josh Hazlewood 3.6. In the second innings, where England again scored freely (4.1), Watson sent down just five of the 70 overs.
For a man selected as an all-rounder at number six, in the order a total of 13 overs in a team match tally of 172 does not add up. This is especially the case when the bowling coach alluded to the fact that his strength was his ability to bowl accurately and slow the run rate and in normal circumstances would be expected to bowl 20-30 overs.
Given the way the runs flowed it could be said that the circumstances weren’t the norm that Michael Clarke and coach Darren Lehmann were looking for.
With Clarke loathe to use Watson more liberally at the bowling crease for whatever reason, and with his batting technique so clearly flawed in English conditions, the time has come to replace him with Marsh.
And it needs to happen for Lord’s.