As a Test player, Shane Watson is a myth

Date: December 14, 2013 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell

Shane Watson’s mind is pickled.

His dismissal in Australia’s first innings (18) at the WACA Ground was yet another example of a man who is pre-occupied with too many thoughts when the bowler releases the ball.

The England bowlers were all over him in the previous series where a severe technical flaw had him in a complete muddle.

Time after time the bowlers targeted his front pad which was automatically plonked down on the line of off-stump regardless of the where the ball was pitched.

His technique was closing off his ability to hit the ball that nipped back towards middle or leg stump.

It has been an issue that has plagued his career.

England trapped him in front four times during the last series, including three successive innings at Nottingham and Lord’s.

He has been dismissed leg before wicket a total of 24 times in 90 innings – 27 per cent of his dismissals.

This summer he has been caught in each of his five innings with the majority of those dismissals brought about as a result of his desire to avoid planting his front foot in front of off-stump as an automatic movement.

His dismissal today was a perfect case in point.

The ball from Stuart Broad was short of a driveable length and considerably wide of off-stump yet Watson went at it only to edge it to the waiting mitts of Graeme Swann at second slip.

It was a shot that any top-order should have let pass.

Immediately he hit the ball he was castigating himself as it was another horrible looking dismissal.

His first innings at Adelaide ended in a similar way when he checked a drive on the front foot and only succeeded in hitting a limp return catch to James Anderson in his follow through.

In the second innings he slapped at a wide one from Anderson and presented Michael Carberry with a straight forward catch at point.

He started the series at Brisbane with yet another soft dismissal when he pushed with hard hands to a delivery well wide of off-stump from Stuart Broad only to see it snapped up by Swann at second slip.

It appears that in his desire to limit the prospect of being trapped leg before he is batting with a cluttered mind and playing way too many balls that he should be letting pass harmlessly through to the ‘keeper.

His best effort so far in this series was his first innings 51 at Adelaide – in the other four knocks he has made just 46 runs.

His series average is a parlous 19.4 but worse still, halfway through his 49th Test his career mark is a very modest 35.2 – an extremely poor number in this modern era of potent bats and shortened boundaries.

There was some hope that his 176 – his highest Test score – in the last match of the last Ashes series at The Oval in September would signal a final realization of his talents.

Sadly, it has proven to be yet another false dawn.

In 90 innings he has got plenty of starts but his conversion rate has been abysmal – 21 half-centuries and just the three tons.

Whilst he is regarded as an all-rounder there is no doubt that skipper Michael Clarke and the selectors are concerned about his injury-prone body.

So far in this series he has sent down just 11 overs.

At 32 years of age, and eight years after his debut, it appears that he is going nowhere out in the middle.

Perhaps his next move will be out of the team altogether.

Through 49 Test appearances he has failed to grasp his countless opportunities.

It also appears that he is not likely to do it in the near future should he survive the axe.

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 13 December 2013