Ashes 2013/14: Shane Watson’s flat-footed dismissal typical of a batsman for whom there is a yawning gulf between his performance and his potential

The Aussie Angle: No one promises more nor falls short so often. He is Australia’s biggest tease

There was a telling statistic in Shane Watson’s batting record as he entered his 49th Test on Friday.

Watson had 3,077 career runs and sat in the bottom reaches of Test cricket’s top 100 run-scorers after 48 matches.

Watson’s runs tally exceeded outstanding batsmen such as countrymen Adam Gilchrist and Mark Waugh, as well as Ashes opponent Ian Bell, yet the most revealing element in this snapshot was his average.

The big right-hander returned 35.37 an innings to be comfortably last on the list.

 The 99th batsman was former Australian captain Kim Hughes whose average was more than three runs better despite playing much of his cricket against the emerging West Indies pace juggernaut.

Watson’s place at the foot of that ladder, probably more than any other statistical measure, revealed the yawning gulf between his incredible potential and his modest performance level.

Watson is a tease, the biggest in Australian cricket.

No one promises more nor falls short so often. He is an enigma, a complete mystery.

His versatility and occasional game-changing surges have made him a favourite of numerous selection panels over the past decade but one half-century and one wicket approaching the halfway point in the Ashes series may be starting to furrow selection brows.

No other Australian player offers his potential combination of front-foot carnage with the bat and incisive 85mph swingers but they only have value if he can use them to bolster the team cause.

There was a palpable air of concern in the England camp at Trent Bridge this year when Watson’s bright start gave the Australian run chase the perfect impetus.

It was a false dawn. The hard graft against the new ball completed and a change of gear in the offing, a straight ball soon accounted for the muscular opener.

Watson’s 18 yesterday was representative of his career.

There was the crashing cover drive for four, the smooth flick off the pads and the booming straight hit.

 He appeared capable of eviscerating the England attack on a true and lucrative surface.

Then came the surrender when a big score was beckoning.

Stuart Broad had just started his second spell after being swapped to the River End here at the Waca.

James Anderson had found more bounce from that southern end than Broad had produced from the north but it took the tall seamer little time to have an impact.

His third delivery was well outside off stump, on a length or just short of it and gaining enough bounce to be a handful for the batsman.

Like generations of flat-footed visitors to the Waca, whether internationals or domestic players from the eastern States of Australia raised on lower and slower surfaces, Watson chased hard at temptation but only managed to skew an edge above second slip where Graeme Swann hauled in a sharp chance.

Sitting in the ABC Radio commentary box, the former Australia Test player Geoff Lawson was aghast. “Too wide, no footwork and not full enough,” Lawson groaned.

Watson appears to have solved the lbw problem that afflicted him in India and England this year but only by finding new mode of dismissal.

He is averaging 19 so far this summer. It is the eighth time in 20 series that he has returned batting averages in the teens or lower.

Watson’s place will no doubt be safe when the Ashes caravan moves to Melbourne next week.

It was the site of his first Test century – after being dropped on 99 – but a record of just two more triple figure scores in 90 innings, including 176 in the dead rubber at The Oval this year when one-Test wonders Simon Kerrigan and Chris Woakes provided much of the fodder for his career-high score, suggests that selection patience is slowly but inexorably drawing to an end.

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat