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Australian selectors are contemplating recalling Brad Haddin for the first Ashes Test match. If Haddin makes a comeback, then he is likely to be the vice-captain of the team after Shane Watson quit from the post of vice-captaincy on April 20, 2013.
Watson’s sudden decision to quit from that post highlights the dysfunction in the Australian side. The erstwhile vice-captain of Australia was one of the four players dropped from the third Test match against India last month for not doing his homework.
The disciplinary action upset Watson so much that he said he would reconsider his future in Test cricket. Upon his return from Australia, Watson was handed over captaincy for the fourth Test in Delhi. The senior all-rounder has now been pressured to stand down from the vice-captaincy, leaving nobody in doubt of the ramifications of the Indian catastrophe and the unsettled state of the dressing-room.
Watson denies he jumped before he was pushed, but The Australian understands it was made clear to the all-rounder that there was dissatisfaction with his performance as deputy.
Former England captain Andrew Strauss made some observations about the homework-gate incident. He said: “All I’d say is taking that ultimate sanction of dropping four players, you run the risk of creating a bigger problem than the one you’re trying to solve because you keep trying to justify your actions.”
“In an ideal world you don’t want to have to go through that. They obviously felt they’d come to stage where they had to draw a line in the sand and only the people within the four walls of the dressing room will know what effect that’s had on the team, whether it’s galvanised them and brought them together or not…Over the course of the next three months we’ll find out. (From) what the dressing room environment is like, you gain an appreciation for when the team is under real pressure in the middle,” added Strauss.
Strauss’s predictions were substantiated by Watson’s resignation. Australia is a team with problems on and off the field.
Both will deny it, but Clarke (the current captain) and Watson (the former vice-captain) have not functioned well as a leadership unit. There have been signs of problems since the pair’s first outing as captain and vice-captain in Sri Lanka, although Clarke claims they developed a good working relationship over the past summer.
Neither feels the other supports him, but the presence of senior leaders in the side such as Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting kept the situation under control. Now after their retirements, the situation has reached a crisis point.
Watson, recently, has spent a lot of time discussing issues with Pat Howard, the high performance manager of Australian cricket. The homework-gate has left Watson at his wits’ end.
“I know I have to perform, there is no doubt about that,” Watson told The Australian. “I am not sure how many brownie points I have got; I don’t deserve many at the moment because I haven’t been performing…I certainly loved the opportunity to captain Australia in a Test match and in the one-dayers as well, there’s no doubt about that — that’s a childhood dream. It was a privilege and an honour, but I also know how important it is for me to score runs in Test matches and if I am not performing I can’t expect to get picked at all.”
Australia plans to discard experiments with bit-part players who were rotated in and out in India. With Watson about to start bowling again, they hope to pick him among the six specialist batsmen.
Watson’s exclusion from the third Test coincided with Haddin being flown in from Australia to replace the injured Matthew Wade- the first choice wicket-keeper.
Wade was unimpressive with his glovework in India, which the tour selectors must have taken look at. Haddin’s inclusion provides two-fold benefits for Australia: in him Australia have a fine ‘keeper and the mantle of vice-captaincy will be taken care of by him.
Haddin was part of the successful Australian side of the past. His experience is an invaluable commodity. Australia needs it desperately for the Ashes.
Also on cricketcountry.com