Watson believes Haddin and Starc both have the credentials to play in the first Test
Australia all-rounder Shane Watson has announced that he believes veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and young pace bowler Mitchell Starc will both be included in the Test squad for the first Test against South Africa on November 9 in Brisbane.
Despite captain Michael Clarke declaring that no decision has been made on whether Haddin or Matthew Wade would don the gloves for the first Test, Watson stated that Haddin should be picked over Wade as Australia’s keeper since he is “mentally and technically ready to go”.
Wade replaced Haddin as Australia’s wicketkeeper in all three formats during the West Indies series in April after Haddin pulled out at the last minute due to his daughter being diagnosed with cancer.
“He’s definitely mentally and technically ready to go if that opportunity does come for him in that first Test, I have my fingers crossed for him, and I certainly think he deserves a chance to be able to take on the South Africans,” Watson said.
Haddin is currently captaining the Sydney Sixers in the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) in South Africa.
Watson was also in the Sixers squad for the first few games of the CLT20 before being ordered home by Cricket Australia, but upon arriving home, Watson stated that Haddin had been in tremendous form with both the bat and gloves.
“If you saw the way he batted today even, his game looks in great order, I think his batting alone looked brilliant. You can really tell even in his set up whether he’s going really good. He’s in some serious touch at the moment. And as he always does he keeps very well,” Watson added.
Besides the ongoing debate about who will fill the wicketkeeper position for the first Test, there is also a storm brewing up over which pace bowlers will be selected for the Brisbane Test.
Watson believes that young pace bowler Mitchell Starc should be included in the team since he has good variation and pace, which would be a huge asset considering the Brisbane pitch is green and bouncy.
“There’s no doubt that having a left-armer who bowls 140kph and swings the ball back in with a bit of bounce at the Gabba and in Perth as well will certainly be a huge asset for our team,” Watson said. “He should be [in the team],” Watson said.
During the England summer, Starc played a couple matches for Yorkshire in the county league and picked up seven first-class wickets in two games at an average of 21.85, while also snapping up eight wickets in the Clydesdale Bank 40.
Starc was also the leading wicket taker in the Friends Life Twenty20 competition, claiming 21 victims at an outstanding average of 10.38 and a ridiculous economy rate of under a run a ball.
To add to all that, Starc also put up a strong performance for Australia throughout the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20.
“The way he’s bowling, he’s certainly doing everything he possibly can to give himself the best chance, he’s bowling beautifully, and he showed in the T20 World Cup how well he’s bowling as well, against world class players with a brand new ball. That’s just about as hard a time that you can bowl, because you’ve got world class opening batsmen trying to take you down in the first six overs,” Watson said.
Starc stated that he was pleased Cricket Australia had not called him back home from the CLT20 as well since he believes his workload is much less compared to that of Watson’s.
“It’s a bit different with me, I’m only a bowler, Watto’s got to open the batting and come in and bowl through the innings as well. Watto’s obviously had a lot years to work out what’s working for him. What worked for me in England was playing a lot of games back to back and I’ve probably carried that through, playing as much as I can and tinkering with a few little things and getting things right. Even if I did go home I’d have to keep bowling as well, so I’d rather do that in games than in the nets. But James Pattinson is back home bowling with a red ball, and I’ll have to do some red ball work over here as well. If I can just keep bowling as well as I can and taking wickets, that’s all I can do, and try and force my way in,” Starc said.
The sudden decision to call Watson home from the CLT20 infuriated Sixers’ general manager Stuart Clark, but Watson noted that the clash between the Twenty20 tournament and the South Africa Test series had been discussed almost six months ago.
“There’s been a bit of talk, and it wasn’t just about me, it was also about other people who were playing in the Champions League leading into the summer, and the talk’s been going on for the last probably six months really, in the end you’ve got to make the most of the time you do have to train, and give yourself – especially with my history – the best chance physically of being ready as well. It’s just about trying to get the best balance you possibly can, and Cricket Australia and Pat Howard and the medical staff thought it was the best way to go, and having a week to freshen up means I should be raring to go,” Watson added.