Sydney: Jan 7, 2013
Injury-plagued all-rounder Shane Watson met with Cricket Australia selectors John Iverarity, Andy Bichel, Mickey Arthur and Michael Clarke last Tuesday to confirm that he would take an break from bowling, in order to prolong his Test career.
''I don't think Watto would mind me saying this, right at the moment Watto wants to come back as a batsman,'' said Arthur, the national team's coach, as published on Sydney Morning Herald.
''He wants to come back into the team with a primary focus of batting. He feels every time he bats and then he gets injured [when] bowling, he just loses a bit of momentum with his batting, which is probably fair to say.
''Once he feels his body is going well and that he feels he's cemented his batting position, we will then take another look at how we want to go with Shane in terms of bowling. That's a decision that only Watto can make.''
A recurring calf injury has left Watson on the sidelines for nine out of the last 12 home Tests for Australia. His form has dipped since his recall during the 2009 Ashes, averaging only 26.4 from 11 Tests in that period. In the preceding two years, he averaged 49.88
Watson has injured his calf multiple times while bowling this year, once at Hobart in the Boxing Day Test and once in a Sheffield Shield match where he was ruled out until the last match of the series.
Although Watson has been injured due to his bowling, he has managed to pick up 48 wickets at an average of 28.46 since his Ashes return.
''We'll be working very closely with him on that because obviously Shane bowling a couple of overs is really good for us,'' Arthur said.
''Shane Watson absolutely loves bowling, he still wants to bowl, but his primary focus right now is to make the team as an out-and-out batsman.''
This decision by Watson will have a significant impact on Australia’s batting line-up in Tests. He recently moved from number three to number four in the order to allow him to bowl more but this decision might bring him back to number three where he averages 43.67 across 45 innings.
But such a move could endanger the position of Ed Cowan who has struggled with his form.
''I guess if he's not bowling it's worth the consideration [of him opening again]. It will certainly be worth the chat,'' Arthur said.
''I still maintain that I felt No. 4 was a really good fit for Shane Watson. But that was Shane Watson bowling some overs as well.
''We're lucky in that I think Watto can bat anywhere from No. 1 to No. 6 in our order and has had some success.
''He'll still be opening in one-day cricket. And who knows, maybe he does [return to opening in Tests], maybe he doesn't, but again it's probably too early to even discuss it.''
With Watson deciding not to bowl, Glenn Maxwell could earn a spot for the Indian tour as the all-rounder in the side. The Indian conditions could suit his off-spin bowling.
Chief selector John Inverarity said that selectors were ''unashamedly very keen to develop all-rounders''.
''I think if you've got a couple of all-rounders in your side, it's extremely useful, and it creates less wear and tear on your out-and-out pace bowlers,'' he said.
Victoria’s Andrew McDonald, New South Wales’ Moises Henriques and Tasmania’s James Faulkner are the other credible options as all-rounders.
First Published: January 7, 2013, 4:35 pm