The Ashes 2015: is the Watson Carnival over?

The name “Shane Watson” and the words “soap opera” have been comfortable bedfellows in Australian cricket for some years now. But the soap was whipped into a hitherto unseen level of sudsiness no sooner had Watson been sent on his way for the second successive innings in Cardiff (lbw again, unsuccessfully challenging again). Suddenly, everyone was keen to lather themselves up.

 

The magnitude of Australia’s unexpected defeat had the public, and the media, searching for a scapegoat. And who better than the enormously talented Watson? He who, by most measures, has failed to make the most of his undoubted talent throughout his meticulously documented career?

 

In the days since Cardiff there have been miles of newspaper print pored over, pages and pages of web-sites clicked upon, and torrents of “opinion” offered on social media regarding what should be done about Shane.

 

It started mildly, with most pundits posing the question of whether or not the curtain may be drawn on Shane Watson’s Test career:

https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/28765276/shane-watsons-test-career-in-jeopardy/

 

Coach Darren Lehmann was quickly on the front foot, stating that the growing hysteria would not influence the selection (or non-selection) of Shane Watson. Possibly Boof was reflecting that, if the selectors discarded Watto after only one match, their initial decision to go with him would look foolish:

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/the-ashes-2015-public-vitriol-aimed-at-shane-watson-wont-influence-selection-says-darren-lehmann/story-fnig5e6k-1227441779036

 

Predictably, many in the cricketing fraternity sprang to their beleaguered brother’s defence. Kevin Pieterson backed “Watto”:

http://www.theage.com.au/sport/cricket/the-ashes/the-ashes-2015-kevin-pietersen-backs-shane-watson-slams-haddin-and-smith-20150714-gibrdh.html

 

As did “AB”:

http://www.theage.com.au/sport/cricket/ashes-2015-put-shane-watson-on-notice-says-allan-border-20150714-gibype.html

 

New South Wales honchos must have been wondering if they had made the correct appointment when new coach Trent Johnson made the ambitious claim that he believed Shane Watson had 3 to 4 more years of Test cricket in him:

http://www.theage.com.au/sport/cricket/nsw-coach-trent-johnston-backs-shane-watson-for-three-or-four-more-years-of-tests-20150714-gibuu4.html

 

Queensland’s Ashley Noffke (who?) begged to differ, and wondered if Watson’s best cricket was now behind him (not really a Confucius-type question given Watson is 34):

http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/noffke-wonders-if-weve-seen-best-of-watson-cricket/2706102/

 

 

But, on the day it became apparent that Watson was to make way for the much younger Mitch Marsh, and the rejoicing was loud and vociferous, some – such as Peter FitzSimons – were mystified at the level of hatred directed toward Watson:

http://www.theage.com.au/sport/the-fitz-files/ashes-2015-why-the-hate-for-shane-watson-20150715-gicnxb.html

 

Along similar lines was Dave Edwards’ decrying of the Australian public’s sickening, yet predictable, schadenfreude:

http://thepublicapology.net/2015/07/shane-watson-and-australias-sickening-yet-entirely-predictable-schadenfreude/

 

KP, naturally not wanting to be left out of the Ashes conversation, said that Watto was not to blame for Australia’s poor start to the series: http://www.skysports.com/cricket/news/12123/9913324/kevin-pietersen-shane-watson-not-to-blame-for-australia

 

Of course, everybody wanted to be part of the ongoing drama, including old ham actors like Geoffrey Boycott:

http://www.theage.com.au/sport/cricket/ashes-2015-australia-paying-for-reliance-on-old-guard-20150714-gicgos.html

 

But perhaps Aaron Timms, writing in the Guardian, summed it up best in this humorous but thoughtful piece, likening the man who never quite fitted in to Albert Camus’ Meursault (yes, really):

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2015/jul/14/australia-cricket-dont-cry-for-shane-watson

 

And for my two-bob’s worth? To paraphrase Samuel Clemens, reports of Shane Watson’s death may well be exaggerated. There is plenty of cricket to be played.

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About Darren Dawson

Always North.

Comments

  1. Callum O'Connor says:

    If we accept that Watson is a solid Test all rounder and an excellent one day player we can move on.

  2. Michael Crawford says:

    Nice bit of anlaysis Darren. I nearly choked laughing on my muesli yesterday when I read the comment from Peter FitzSimons: “Those blowing raspberries should do Watson his due. He has been an adornment to the Australian cricket team for over a decade, the stand-out “good bloke,” of his generation.”

    That’s what Ian Healy et al had been telling us for years. We just couldn’t see it. Nor did we fully understand that it was a prerequisite to be a good bloke to be in the Aussie test team.

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