Shane Watson is out injured on the eve of a big Test series. Again. Strained a calf muscle early in a bowling spell. Again. I’ve read articles in the last week or so that suggest Watson should give up the shorter forms of the game to prolong his Test career. Maybe he should. Shane Watson is a very good Test cricketer. Not a great one but very good. Shane Watson is a great one-day international cricketer. And maybe the best Twenty20 International player this country has produced.
One of the theories mentioned has been for Watson to give up bowling and just be a Test batsman. Maybe his batting would improve without the burden of bowling. It would have to improve alot for a player who in 35 Tests in 7 and a half years since his debut has averaged 37 with just two centuries. And a highest score of 126. There are plenty of players in Australia who could average 37 without bowling. I’m sure Rob Quiney could given an extended run. So could George Bailey, Callum Ferguson, Peter Forrest, Alex Doolan and several others. As an all-rounder Watson’s bowling has been very good. 59 wickets at 28.92 in his 35 Tests. But is his role as fourth seamer irreplaceable? Andrew McDonald has shown in his 4 Tests that he is very capable of bowling tightly in a long spell while taking the odd wicket. And he can bat. If Mitchell Marsh can control his love of a drink he could be a much better all-rounder than Watson. And the brilliant Glenn Maxwell could be an all-rounder option if his off-spin continues to improve alongside his explosive batting.
Watson is nearly 31 and a half. With recurring calf injuries. The old man injury. Just 35 Tests since his January 2005 debut. The best Australian teams have been consistent line-ups with few changes. Are we better to have a mainly constant line-up in the Test team? Of course we are. Watson should give away the longer forms of the game. Now. Keep playing ODI’s and Twenty20 Internationals. And the rest of the T20 circuit. Bat and bowl in both. Earn plenty of money.
Test cricket is my favourite form of cricket. I don’t like it when quality players quit 4 and 5 day cricket for the shorter forms. But it’s a no-brainer here. An injury prone all-rounder in his 32nd year who dominates 50 and 20 over cricket. An average of 41.49 in ODI’s with 6 tons. 155 ODI wickets at 28.84. In T20 Internationals a batting average over 30 and a bowling average of 20. A star in these forms. A white ball flat track bully. A very good red ball player who breaks down constantly an could be easily replaced.
Give up first-class cricket Watto and lead us to glory in the 2014 T20 world cup and more importantly the 2015 ODI World Cup which will be held in Australia and New Zealand.