Ashes 2013: Shane Watson’s stance leaves his team-mates with a headache

The Aussie Angle: Watson is an enigma at top of the Australia batting order

It is unfair and hurtful to describe Shane Watson as a cancer in the Australian team. He is actually more like a common cold. He clogs the system, causes an ache and annoys many of the people with whom he makes contact.

Watson is an enigma at the top of the Australia batting order. His strengths are clear. He plays with a vertical bat, he has a bazooka of a straight drive and he appears as comfortable and effective against the new ball as anyone in the game. Yet his flaws have a far-reaching impact in an Australia team saddled with the most brittle top order in a generation.

Watson gets out lbw in 30 per cent of his dismissals. No batsman to play as many as Watson’s 43 Tests equals that figure. His strength is his weakness. That powerful front leg plants down the pitch, the heavy bat sweeps through but has to go around the pad rather than through the ball and a delivery that a more nimble-footed batsman would pick off through midwicket becomes a deadly missile screaming in through a tiny gap in an otherwise impregnable defence.

Watson also gets out between 30 and 60 in 35 per cent of his innings. No regular batsman in Test history comes close to such a proportion of innings that offer so much yet, ultimately, deliver so little.

It is unclear whether Watson’s technique changes after a certain period of his innings to reflect a subconscious level of contentment at what has been achieved so far.

Could it be fatigue? Watson lumbers around the field like a milk truck rattling and clinking under its load rather than an elite athlete straining muscle and sinew in joyous exertion.

He has faced 100 balls in an innings just 19 times in his career and only twice gone beyond 200. Watson’s former opening partner Simon Katich, a more durable but less explosive batsman, provides a powerful contrast. Katich stayed for more than 100 deliveries on 36 occasions and went past 200 eight times in just a handful more innings than Watson.

Yet are those statistical revelations anything more than anomalies – snapshots that reveal an insight about a batsman but not necessarily a truth? After all, batsmen have to get out some way. And regular departures in the 30s or 40s may be frustrating but are they any more infuriating than spreading a career across a full wagon wheel of scores?

Watson’s judgment while batting is a greater cause for concern than his mode of dismissal or the raw number of runs he accumulates.

He reviewed an lbw decision at Trent Bridge that looked comprehensively out to the naked eye and the initial television replays but was shown to be a marginal call once the full battalion of technology was brought to bear on the imagery.

He reviewed again at Lord’s. Again it looked out but there was to be no TV reprieve to a delivery that was pitching in line and would have hit midway up the timber.

The problem for Australia was not just the loss of an important batsman but the ripple effect from the poorly conceived review. It became apparent within minutes.

Chris Rogers was in two minds when he was struck by a full toss somewhere near the stumps. He must have suspected a review might save him, but with one referral already lost and the captain and best batsman still to come, he would have been a brave man to put his own survival ahead of the team’s best interests.Having lost sight of the ball, Rogers required clear advice from his partner, but Usman Khawaja, playing his first Test in 19 months, appeared incapable of offering anything coherent.

Common colds are rarely deadly but they do muddle thinking. Australia had a bad dose yesterday and no amount of sniffling can change that.

John Townsend is Cricket Writer for The West Australian

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home