The Ashes 2015 – First Test: N’yuck! N’yuck! N’yuck!

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Cricket prices including $2 on Australia to win the series.


It’s just over 24 hours to the First Test in Cardiff and I might have to go outside and give myself a few Larry-Curly-Mo slaps around the chops. But I’ve been thinking it over for a week or so now. And I’m about to do something I never thought I’d do. I’m about to argue for the inclusion of Shane Robert Watson in this Australian side.

Really? Watto?

Yep. Watto.


Reason 1: Tweets and comments on this website ( are so much more interesting when Watto is in the side. Watto is like offal generally and tripe in particular: he will get a reaction.

Reason 2: He’s played a helluva a lot of cricket in England. It’s easy to forget that he played in some of those Tests in 2005 – towards the end of the series. It’s where he started his run of 48s and 56s in sides who needed him to make 100+ to secure the result.

Reason 3: In a lot of Test matches in England he has played a role with the ball. He is everything that Ryan Harris wasn’t – R. Harris was robust, lively, wanting the rock in his hand, hard-working, competitive. S.R. Watson requires his socks washed in perfectly measured amounts of Osmocote Orchid Mix granules and Omo to perform. Yet, in England, a 15-11-15-0 (his bowling figures at Nottingham in 2013, for example) is going to be important.


Because, in the unlikely event that the rocket launchers – Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc – don’t take the wickets in the first 50 overs (with the help of Josh Hazlewood) it will be a matter of drying things up until the next Duke is removed from its cellophane and thrown to the skipper. That’s 30 overs to fill in. Nathan Lyon is many things, but on a benign English deck (and we know that the Poms will make this track as flat as a Mallee paddock), a threat is not one of them. He’s gone for sixes in opening overs before. Ther’s no Marcus North or Simon Katich anymore. And K.D. Walters is more your strike bowler – or has he retired?

So Watto will have a role to play – and he’ll play it better than M. Marsh. Watto can bowl stump to stump. He can hurry on. He can get the little dobbly outie going. He can turn the aspro around and get it to reverse swing. He’s got a bouncer. And he’s a mean-spirited bowler. He hates being scored against and he reckons he’s a chance against any batsman.

In fact, Watto is, by nature, a bowler. If he brought his bowling sensibility to the batting crease many of those 50s would be tons, and big tons. He’s from Ipswich for goodness sake. Ipswich produces front rowers who snack on sides of raw beef and quicks (the bowling coach went to Ippy Grammar) who hitch their strides, turn, mumble, and go back to their bowling marks.

As a natural bowler he must play, even though his body has always been a risk. Has there been a bowler more incompleted overs in his analyses?

Reason 4: Balance and versatility. He can actually bat anywhere in the order. He’ll just be his dopey self wherever he’s pencilled in. nothing changes him: he’ll still press forward and swat pull shots off his chin, he’ll still play around his front pad, the run out will remain trumps whenever he’s at the crease.

Reason 5: He helps us locate ourselves in the Universe. We would not know ourselves if the Australian side was Watto-less?

No, he has to play. He may be a poor man’s Joe Scuderi, but for the start of this Test series he’s in.

The way Starc is bowling, and the way Johnson can bowl, Watto may not be called on. And N. Lyon can only improve on his Essex performance.

No, I think Watto will be an unlikely insurance policy in a winning side.

With the Welsh weather looking OK, the Australians at $1.38 are the value. And even better value at Ladbrokes is $2 for Australia to win the series.

Australia: Rogers, Warner, Smith, Clarke, Voges, Watson, Haddin, Johnson, Starc, Hazlewood, Lyon.

England’s squad of 13 (see below)

Alastair Cook captain

Age: 30 years 188 days Playing role: Opening batsman Batting: Left-hand bat Bowling: Right-arm slow

Moeen Ali

Age: 28 years 13 days Batting: Left-hand bat Bowling: Right-arm offbreak

James Anderson

Age: 32 years 336 days Playing role: Bowler Batting: Left-hand bat Bowling: Right-arm fast-medium

Gary Ballance

Age: 25 years 221 days Batting: Left-hand bat Bowling: Legbreak

Ian Bell

Age: 33 years 81 days Playing role: Top-order batsman Batting: Right-hand bat Bowling: Right-arm medium

Stuart Broad

Age: 29 years 7 days Playing role: Bowler Batting: Left-hand bat Bowling: Right-arm fast-medium

Jos Buttler wicketkeeper

Age: 24 years 296 days Batting: Right-hand bat

Steven Finn

Age: 26 years 88 days Playing role: Bowler Batting: Right-hand bat Bowling: Right-arm fast-medium

Adam Lyth

Age: 27 years 279 days Batting: Left-hand bat Bowling: Right-arm offbreak

Adil Rashid

Age: 27 years 134 days Batting: Right-hand bat Bowling: Legbreak

Joe Root

Age: 24 years 183 days Batting: Right-hand bat Bowling: Right-arm offbreak

Ben Stokes

Age: 24 years 27 days Batting: Left-hand bat Bowling: Right-arm fast-medium

Mark Wood

Age: 25 years 171 days Batting: Right-hand bat Bowling: Right-arm fast


About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. JTH you might be onto something here. Australia might need a 34 and a 1/42 off 10 overs. And who says we must play Lyon?

  2. What’s happened to the Big Show, Maxwell?

  3. Rick Kane says

    It may not be the argument that convinces selectors but any proposal that includes this ‘as a going in to bat’ argument will win me:
    “S.R. Watson requires his socks washed in perfectly measured amounts of Osmocote Orchid Mix granules and Omo to perform”.

    Onya JTH

  4. I am hosting a diner each night and it is essential that, on the first night, there is lots to talk about. The bloody English weather might intervene so I completely agree with John.
    Play the blokes that annoy everyone. Who cares if they can play or not. Cricket rhymes with conversation.

  5. Peter Warrington says

    Harris has them playing Siddle. Surely better to pick
    Both marsh and Watson instead?

    If we had real balls it would be Ahmed and m marsh and nevill.

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says

    JTH starts a campaign to play,Watto as he is important for almanac hits and for us all to take the piss out of.Joe Scuderi thanks you and enjoyed his mention!

  7. And he’s the best slipper in the team. Catches win matches. I hope Voges gets a game, and that will mean both Marsh’s missing out. Mitch would be my pick over Watto on a grassy deck as he has more pace and bounce. Watto is the pick on a flat deck, but will his back, knee, hamstring, pinky finger let him bowl more than 3 overs???

  8. Harmsy,

    This is all I have to say in relation to your support for Watto:

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    I’m for M.Marsh. But Watto will play.

  10. mate, I’d open Watto!

  11. Trevor Blainey says

    And there he sits, perched on 29, ready to flail the bowling tonight on his way to a nerveless 37. he’ll be praying that Lyon can hang around long enough to shepherd him through to that and that the weather stays, well, Welsh and that noone says anything mean to him on his way out to the middle. and that they don’t bowl straight and full and that he doesn’t have to run around too much either on his way to his average or later when he has to do that bloody fielding thingy. you’re right John, there’s absolutely no joy to be had if he’s not picked. why on earth they’d want to consider a 24 YO player coming off 2 tons in the warm ups (including a real big ‘un) and could surely deliver 10-3-42-0 as well as anyone is beyond me. not when you can have Watto who at 34 is surely on the cusp of his salad days with runs aplenty, a bit of devil in his bowling and the sort of team focussed derring do that he’s displayed over the long haul. beyond me.

  12. Yes, Trevor, what was I thinking. Very disappointing with the agate. But he had mates. What a weird performance in the field that was. Even Day 2 morning. To concede nearly 100 before lunch – bump-bah.

  13. Richard Forster says

    “Poor-man’s Joe Scuderi”! Love it.

  14. Hmmmm, so we were paying $1.38 prior to the opening over of day one. What can you get for us now ?


  15. Trevor Blainey says

    Oh how very disappointing that must be for Watto. Let down again by an inadequate watchy and a straight one from the bowler. Still he gets to roll the arm over soon. Can’t wait for that.

  16. never made runs at 6

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