Melbourne Test – Day 4: The Watson Irritation

He is like an itch that is driving me crazy. Always there, always on my mind, but with the salve just out of reach…

He is probably a wonderful fellow. He is, more than likely, the type of bloke that any father would be happy to see his daughter dating. In interviews, he comes across as well-mannered, if a little pre-occupied with the word “I”.

So why does he irritate me so? Here are some reasons:

Injury-prone-ness (for want of a better description). When he pulled up short in his run-up after lunch on Boxing Day, the audible groans throughout the members’ area could best be summed up as “Here we go again…another injury.” Not fit for print was what I was thinking as he ambled off the field of play.

Dawdling. He takes an age between overs to take up his place at first slip, having shuffled up from…first slip. If he were a junior player, his coach would give him a foot up the arse to get him moving (how about it, Boof?). He seems to be perpetually sulking, shoulders slumped, unenthusiastic. In a nut-shell, his body-language is poor: the antithesis of a team player.

Homework. Regardless of one’s opinion of ex-coach Mickey Arthur’s methods, it would appear to have been a no-brainer* for Watto to complete a simple homework task. That he was suspended for a Test then, upon return, was undeservedly anointed captain only made me more irritable. (Which, on reflection, probably says more about the selectors, and me, than it does him).

Self-absorption. His comical – but not overly surprising – run-out in the second innings in Perth was a snap-shot of a career in one ball: second innings domination, terrible shot, let off by a dropped catch, run out because he was too self-absorbed to complete a basic cricket principle: run, just in case the fieldsman grasses it.

I could go on. I could talk about the fact that he is averaging 25.2 first innings runs in a series in which his team is leading 4-0. I could talk about the fact that Australia’s no.3 batsman boasts a career average of 36.5. And how the media tracks his every niggle as if he were averaging 99.94.

But I would only get more irritated, and the itch so much more annoying.


*I know, it is almost an oxy-moron.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Maybe Watto’s been told his whole life that he is a gun cricketer and maybe he was in under 19s. He’s now getting his mind around the fact that he ain’t.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Good article , Smokie you cover very well what pisses us off so much about , Watto spot on re his body language and get on with the game his dawdling is ridiculous and yes re the homework bit I don’t understand why they all just didn’t do it still wonder if there wasn’t more to it and the run out was perfect , Watto lets see how he goes against
    Steyn , Philander and co

  3. How come there is a collective mea culpa for St Mitch, but not even a conciliatory word for Watto? His Perth century was dismissed for lack of pressure. I have seen Australia lose from better positions than the fall of the first wicket in Melbourne. Not even a ‘well played’ from the collective knackery.
    He is not a Test #3 but Smith is not a #5 and he doesn’t get bagged. Go figure. They are the best we have and they get the job done often enough.
    Watto is the best containing medium pacer (4th change) that Australia has ever had. Sure it would be good if he didn’t break down so often, but no one bags Harris for that.
    Watto has good hands in the slips, and does not sulk now that he has a coach in Boof who understands man management and kids him when he needs it and kicks him up the bum when he deserves it. Arthur was a typical South African automaton. Players who perform with a change of coach?? Dennis Pagan made 2 flags out of it.
    Watto has 2 problems:
    – He is rated on potential. What he could/should do. What he actually does gets ignored.
    – We are all jealous of him. He is a good looking. talented, overpaid Gen Y with a succession of blonde babes on his arm. Middle aged baby boomer commentators are equal parts envious and resentful.
    Get over it.

  4. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Smokie, fact is Watto is a marketeers golden boy.His cricketing skills have no place in the best Australian XI, but his look and the promise of things to come outweigh any semblance of rationality. Accept him for what he is; a good ordinary cricketer who can have extraordinary moments.

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Personally I just want any individual make the most of there ability and fight . Warner has started to gain respect that while he has a very aggressive game plan his shot selection has improved except in , 1st inn at the , G . Smith isn’t as naturally talented but fights and yep is a long way away from proving himself yet . Watto has now played ,
    50 tests and continues to play brain dead cricket his , 1st innings dismissals in all , 4 tests have shown a lack of mental toughness and ability to sum up the situation and play smart . Re the , 2 nd inn in , Melb well done , Watto ( geez that was hard ) let’s see what he does against a better attack in , SA

  6. Thank you all for your comments. And I apologise if I did not make it clear enough that the piece was written slightly tongue-in-cheek. I don’t dislike Watt. Rather – and I reckon I speak for most cricket watchers – he frustrates me in that I just wish he would play to his potential much more regularly.

    Just look at his hundred at the Oval in August: it was a superb knock, with every shot in the book. The on-drive he played in the first innings at Melbourne: one of the shots of the summer!
    And yes, he has chimed in with important wickets along the way during this series.

    I get the feeling that the up-coming series v South Africa could very well be career-defining for Watto. Big runs over there should quieten the doubters.

    And Peter, I am not jealous of him in ay way.

  7. Hope this table is readable; apologies for format.

    Interestingly, only Miller, Imran and Walters have a higher batting average and a lower bowling average than Shane Watson. Perhaps he is under-rated.

    All data from cricinfo.

    Tests Runs Avge 100s 50s Wickets Avge 5ws 10 Ws Catches
    Kallis 166 13289 55.37 45 58 292 32.65 5 0 200
    Kapil Dev 131 5248 31.05 8 27 434 29.64 23 2 64
    Vettori 112 4516 30.1 6 23 360 34.42 20 3 58
    Pollock 108 3781 32.31 2 16 421 23.11 16 1 72
    Akram 104 2898 22.64 3 7 414 23.62 25 5 44
    Botham 102 5200 33.54 14 22 383 28.4 27 4 120
    Sobers 93 8032 57.58 26 30 235 34.03 6 0 109
    Imran 88 3807 37.69 6 18 362 22.81 23 6 28
    Hadlee 86 3124 27.16 2 15 431 22.29 36 9 39
    Shastri 80 3830 35.79 11 12 151 40.96 2 0 36
    Flintoff 79 3845 31.77 5 26 226 32.78 3 0 52
    Walters 74 5357 48.26 15 33 49 29.08 1 0 43
    Streak 65 1990 22.35 1 11 216 28.14 7 0 17
    Benaud 63 2201 24.45 3 9 248 27.03 16 1 65
    Cairns 62 3320 33.53 5 22 218 29.4 13 1 14
    Miller 55 2958 36.97 7 13 170 22.97 7 1 38
    Watson 51 3343 36.33 4 22 68 31.83 3 0 33
    Klusener 49 1906 32.86 4 8 80 37.91 1 0 34
    D’Oliveira 44 2484 40.06 5 15 47 39.55 0 0 29
    Davidson 44 1328 24.59 0 5 186 20.53 14 2 42
    Matthews 33 1849 41.08 4 12 61 48.22 2 1 17
    Symonds 26 1462 40.61 2 10 24 37.33 0 0 22
    Gilmour 15 483 23 1 3 54 26.03 3 0 8

  8. Huge apologies for format of table; before I posted all the tabs were there but they disappeared.

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