Inverarity is still deciding where Watson will bat during the Test series against South Africa
Australia national selector John Inverarity has revealed that he is considering pushing all-rounder Shane Watson down the batting order, despite opening the batting in both limited over formats.
Inverarity explained that he was trying to follow the steps South African selectors take with veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis and apply them to Watson, whereby meaning that he would come in at number four.
Despite being one of the best all-rounders in the game today, Watson is still nowhere near the level of Kallis, as proven by his Test batting average, which is 37.54 compared to Kallis’ 56.94.
Kallis has also scored 43 centuries in his Test career so far, while Watson just has a meagre two.
Inveratity suggested that Watson could be moved down the order to ensure that he has a lot of playing time left in his career, especially after players like Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey retire.
“Watson at No. 3, could be a No. 4…If Michael Hussey or Ricky Ponting retired, and if we included Phil Hughes, then it could be Hughes at three and Watson at four. That’s feasible. Mickey [Arthur] often talks about Kallis, and a very good position for Kallis is bowling and batting at No. 4. I just think Watson’s flexible,” Inverarity said.
Watson was recently ordered home from the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20), where he was representing the Sydney Sixers, and even though the Sixers’ general manager Stuart Clark was infuriated by the decision, Cricket Australia’s team performance manager Pat Howard stated that Test cricket took priority over domestic Twenty20 tournaments.
Howard also noted that he did not want Watson to break down, like he did last summer, which caused him to miss the Test series against New Zealand and India.
“He’s right, the final decision wasn’t made until recently, this is a very big series against South Africa – Shane is an important cog for the national selection panel to have consideration of and the reality is you can’t play all the games in all the tournaments, all the time. The fact that he’s an allrounder makes him a pretty unique proposition. We’re trying to avoid the same mistakes that we made 12 months ago. Stuart and I have been talking, and it has been reasonable. Outside the limelight it has been a fairly cordial conversation. I know this debate could keep going on but the reality is we’ve made a decision in the best interests of Australian cricket and in the best interests of Shane Watson,” Howard said.
Inverarity stated that while he understood cricketers would not be able to play all games in a season, they should be healthy for a majority of them.
In order to protect their young trio of pace bowlers, which includes Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson and Pat Cummins, Cricket Australia have introduced a rotation policy, whereby they control the workload for all three bowlers and ensure that they don’t fall victim to any more injuries.
“Rotation is not a dirty word, rotation is reality, the cold, hard facts are a cricketer can’t just play every game, and last and perform at his best. And in the interests of developing some depth and creating opportunities for players, I think just phasing a few in and out is the best way to go. Mitchell Starc played in the first two Tests against New Zealand, then we kept him around the group for the first two Tests against India. We then played four quicks in Perth and he was the fourth; he didn’t play in Adelaide. He came into the one-day series, we took him to the West Indies in a sort of development role. We had a couple of injuries and he came in for the last Test there,” Inverarity said.
“Then he went to Yorkshire and learnt to bowl in England. I think the planning with Mitchell Starc over the last 12 months has been pretty good. You saw how well he bowled first in the UAE and then Sri Lanka. He has been the beneficiary of the amount that he has bowled and the circumstances in which he has bowled, and being kept close to the team,” Inverarity added.