Watson may have to seriously cut down on his bowling to avoid sustaining any more injuries in the future
Australia all-rounder Shane Watson has once again started off the summer campaign with an injury and there have been mounting calls that he should stop bowling in order to limit his workload.
Watson, 31, missed the first Test in Brisbane against South Africa after injuring his calf while playing for New South Wales in a Sheffield Shield game.
The all-rounder missed all of Australia’s summer season last year as well after he sustained a hamstring injury at first, which was later joined by some discomfort in his calf.
However, Watson insists that he is an all-rounder and wants to continue as one, even though many pundits think that his workload is through the roof.
Watson’s case can be compared to that of former Australia captain Steve Waugh, who struggled with his Test career in his thirties when he was an all-rounder as well.
But, once Waugh cut back on the number of overs he bowled in a Test match, his batting average rose from 43 to 51.
Watson may have to consider doing the same since his batting in the longer format has been extremely poor and heavily criticised over the past couple of years due to the two centuries he has been limited to.
Speaking about the situation, Australia Test captain Michael Clarke said: “We’ll worry about that if we have to. Shane sees himself as an all-rounder. I haven’t heard any different at this stage, I’m pretty sure he wants to come back as an all-rounder and we’ve selected him through his career as an all-rounder. There have been games where he hasn’t been selected because he hasn’t been able to bowl. If he’s fit to do both, then he’ll do both. If he’s not, the selectors will sit down and work out if we’re going to select him just as a batsman.”
However, Australia are not comfortable with Watson just solely being a batsman and head coach Mickey Arthur reiterated the feeling by stating that he did not want Watson to give up on bowling after spending years developing it.
Speaking exclusively to Inside Cricket, Arthur said: “Shane’s got a massive amount to offer in two disciplines, it’s a blow not to have him because he’s two cricketers in one. Shane’s still got a long career ahead of him, batting and bowling.”
Arthur noted that since Watson was ruled out of the first Test, the selection panel went with the closest replacement they could find, which happened to be Victoria’s Rob Quiney.
“There was [consideration of another all-rounder], we had a look at all the scenarios, as a panel we were very keen on picking what we thought was our best top-six batters. I think that’s really important, especially against a good bowling attack, we wanted to pick our best top six. Then we look down the line at what our best four bowlers are to get us 20 wickets. We’ve gone down the old fashioned route of picking six batters, four bowlers and a keeper,” Arthur added.
Clarke noted that if Watson happened to be ruled out of the second Test as well, he would continue to rely heavily on his part-time bowlers to produce wickets.
“We’ve seen in the past that I’ve got some overs out of Michael Hussey. Rob Quiney will be no different, and if there’s a bit of spin, I can bowl as well. We’ve still got the options there. Whether you’ve got an all-rounder in your team or not, you always rely on your main four bowlers and then you use your part-timers as you see fit. Hopefully our frontline bowlers can do the job. But if there’s a role for a part-timer to play, they’ll certainly get that opportunity,” Clarke said.