Shane Watson is underperforming

Date: December 10, 2012 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell

Shane Watson has made plenty of headlines lately with topics relating to his fitness and ability to bowl and his best spot in the batting order.

But the bottom line is the fact that wherever he is utilized he needs to perform.

There is no doubting his ability from a technical point of view but it is fair to say that he has underachieved, especially in the batting department.

With Michael Clarke’s dicky back a constant worry for the national selectors, vice-captain Watson could find himself thrust into the top job at any time.

One of Clarke’s greatest strengths as captain has been his ability to take his own game to a new level.

Since assuming the mantle as Test skipper he has scored three double centuries and a triple while boasting a batting average of 68.1.

Whilst yet to carry the responsibility of captaincy, it is high time for Watson to produce on a far more regular basis.

There is no doubt that injury has marred his continuity in the baggy green with the third Test against South Africa at the WACA his first on home soil since January 2011.

But when he has been in the side recently his performances have been largely below par.

Through a Test career that now spans 36 matches he has a batting average of just 36.9.

One of the more worrying aspects of his batting is his inability to make opponents pay once he gets settled at the crease.

The fact that he has scored just two centuries from the 20 times he has surpassed 50 at Test level is a massive blight on his game.

He has currently gone 30 Test innings without a century, hardly acceptable for a top-order batsman.

In his past 11 Tests (21 innings), he has scored 552 runs at the paltry average of 26.3, during which time he has made eight single-figure scores including three ducks.

In the one-day arena, Watson has proved himself to be a far more valuable batsman with an average of 41.5 and a rapid-fire strike rate of 88.

He holds the record for the highest one-day score by an Australian – 185no against Bangladesh in Dhaka.

At times his belligerent and prolific scoring at one-day level seems to mask the fans’ view of his Test form.

He has proved himself to be an effective bowler in the longer form with a creditable career record of 60 wickets at 29.2.

His recent form however has not been flattering apart from one performance against South Africa in Cape Town late last year where he captured 5/17 in the highly abbreviated Test that featured Australia’s ignominious innings of 47.

In his past 11 Tests he has produced 18 wickets at 26.9, however if you remove that one innings in Cape Town his return is far less impressive – 13 wickets at 35.9.

Watson has been told that he will most likely bat at four in the forthcoming series against Sri Lanka, to which he responded, “It’s taken me a few days to get my head around that, but it means I can bowl a few more overs”.

Here’s hoping that his often fragile body is up to the task.

At 31 years of age, and as deputy to Clarke, it is time for Watson to impose his presence on opposing sides.

On both fronts – batting and bowling – he has to find consistency and the ability to put the opposition under pressure.

As one of the senior members of the squad the time is now.

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 9 December 2012