Watson as Captain? Give me a break, we have jumped the shark

Ok, really? What? You’re kidding? No. It can’t be, can it?

Alright, let’s not talk about this as if it’s going to happen. Let’s not say it, OUT LOUD!

Stop it. Now. All of you. ALL OF YOU!

You know what rumours and the internet are like. If people get a sniff, it will travel, it gets legs, people will start to run online polls about it and you know what could happen then?!

It could actually happen.

Are we really talking seriously about Shane Watson walking out on Boxing Day as captain if Michael Clarke is injured?

Shane Watson captain. Of Australia. The Test Team.

In a real match!!!

In the name of everything we hold dear, at a time of coming together and sharing, when the world is in turmoil and needs certainty, WE ARE ACTUALLY CONSIDERING THIS COULD OCCUR.

Give. Me. A. Break.

I have no issues with him in the side; I am not advocating anything drastic. He has been able to take wickets and I think a big score, just like a few years ago when opening, is not far away. This is not like when we all tried to fool ourselves that Steve Smith was in the best 6 batsmen in the country when the Poms were last here.

So, he’s fine to be in the side.

But CAPTAIN! Say it ain’t so Joe.

What in the hell does Mike Hussey have to do, besides have gone to the same party where Watto was, hiding behind the pot plants, and taking photos of Hilditch then Invers in flagrante delicto with the donkey from Bachelor Party, to get the gig.

It may only be a one off, but it goes in the book. It may be against Sri Lanka, not the Saffers or the Indian conquering Poms, but history will record it. It may be due to injury, but the (C) will be after the name.

Please, whatever else you think of us Cricket Australia: Do not appoint Shane Watson as Australian Captain for the Boxing Day test due to Michael Clarke’s hamstring.

The line of Australian captains over the last 30 years from Greg Chappell, who last led us out in 82/83, has numbered only 8, with esteemed names such as Border, Taylor, Steve Waugh, Ponting and Clarke amongst them, with Yallop and  Hughes being in carge also and the Gilchrist fill in Tests making up the numbers.

For players who have filled in as Australia Test Captain due to injury or unavailability since WW2, the names, besides Gilchrist who did it on 6 occasions, (winning series in both Sri Lanka and, famously, in India mind you) include:

Barry Jarman – once – the bloke could keep

Brian Booth – twice – good batsmen, excellent Olympic hockey player

Neil Harvey – once – despite his recent dial-a-quote stature as rubbisher of all things post B&W TV, handy batsman just quietly

Ray Lindwall – once – brilliant bowler, ‘nuff said

Arthur Morris – twice – could bat, learnt under Bradman and by all accounts, a cracking fellow

Bill Brown – once – ditto Morris and more

So, we feel that Shane Watson, he of the dodgy all round fitness, poor running between the wickets, lack of love from the Australian public and grumpy and vacant expression, should captain the country?

As a batsman, he’s fine to be in the side. As a bowler, he is a key supporting part of the overall bowling attack. As a fieldsman, he has a safe pair of hands.

But as a Captain of the Australian test side, if we appoint him, even as a stand in, then we have jumped the shark and it is a slippery slope towards replica baggy greens being sold in Rebel Sports or the chance to field for Australia (like young Silk in Hobart) being given away with three Weet Bix bar codes.

Seriously, what does Mike Hussey have to do to be considered as the most likely stand in?

He’s not going to be the long term option, so there’s no threat there (like Gilchrist). He doesn’t crave the role (like Gilchrist, who was happy to be rid of it). He is in seriously good form (like the other stand ins mentioned above), and he would be someone we would all respect as a suitable guy to be on the list. He has leadership written all over him, selfless and quality in spades.

Watson is not part of the long term succession plan, which hasn’t really started with Clarke so early in his tenure. Ponting has gone, and cannot be called up temporarily. Hussey is the most sensible, logical, wise choice that could actually have a positive impact on the future of Australian cricket.

He’s respected within the team and in the general public. He’s articulate, seasoned, a motivator and in excellent form. He’s played under great leaders in successful teams.

He’s led before in the NZ one day series, (albeit it unsuccessfully), and probably doesn’t want the gig.

But Shane Watson? Does it really stack up?

I say, wait, I say boy, I say, just wait just a GODDAMN COTTON PICKIN’ MINUTE.

Can we just think about what we are saying here?

Please, if we need a captain on Boxing Day that’s not Clarke, Hussey before Watson, every day of the week.

About Sean Curtain

"He was born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad". First line of 'Scaramouche' by Sabatini, always liked that.


  1. Sean, I wrote this piece three years ago. Nothing has changed.


  2. Bugger, that’s a more articulate, detailed and to the point piece than mine.

    Damm you People’s Elbow

  3. Compelling arguement Sean. Watson is better suited to sculpting muscles than plotting batmens downfalls. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares. Hussey? Hmm. Not convinced. But I’ll give you right of way there seeing that you feel so strongly about it.

  4. I’m just happy that you’ve kept the campaign alive, Sean

  5. T Bone

    Thanks as ever buddy. This isn’t so much a plea for Hussey to captain more a view that Watson is far from captaincy material, both in talent, leadership and strategy, three areas I would have assumed mattered more to the esteemed position that being in a BRut 33 ad. If we need to find an alternative, I would hope we treated the role with more respect and dignity than teams like Sri Lanka, West Indies and Pakistan who seem to have a revolving door of leaders. If we need a stop gap on Boxing Day, in the mould of those I mentionedin the article, I think Hussey, of the current crop, makes perfect sense, as oppossed to Watson, who will only create distractions over his ‘how much can he bowl’ and ‘where should he bat’ commentary. Hussey would represent stability and leadership, and wouldn’t that be great in a captain.

    So I haven’t started or registed a ‘Huss for PM’ campaign, but I will consider a ‘No Way Watto’ Twitterbook/My Face/Instaflicker webpage thingy with likes, clicks, links and all that other technology stuff.


  6. Ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Andrew Starkie says

    Siddle for captain.

  8. Still unclear as to when Watson last passed 50 in a test match.


  9. Glen

    vs. West Indies, April 2012, made 56. Since then, scores of 1,41,5,10, 25, 30 and 5.
    Since his last 100 (126 vs India in India October ’10), 32 innings for 9 scores above 50, 9 under 10, including 3 ducks, 2 were first ball, other 2nd.

    Andrew, Re Siddle: If we go on who is safe in the side, besides Hussey, you’d have to say Siddle fits that mould too.

    If CA is interested in shameless publicity and crowd numbers (perish the thought) how good would it be to see a local boy, face of a current CA ad campaign, to be Boxing Day captain. Captains need to make tactical bowlng changes and field placements, there’s a reasonable argument to having a bowler do that. Walsh, Willis, Streak, all reasonablly good captains I’d venture.

  10. Tony Roberts says

    Hey fellas, look at the upside! Unless Melbourne’s Sri Lankan community is up for five straight days of flag-flying (not beyond the realms of possibility), Boxing Day appears to be the last remaining hope of hearing any decent crowd noise at a Test during this Australian summer.

    And now, with the promise/threat of Watto as captain and Haddin drafted in as the specialist number 6 batsman, the ‘bumper Boxing Day’ crowd (and they’re Victorians, Bill!) can get to both groan at the post-toss interview AND boo at the fall of Australia’s fourth wicket. (The latter event may of course have to wait till Day 2.)

  11. Andrew Starkie says

    Glen, i was only half tongue in cheek. why shouldn’t he be captain? You’ve spelt out good reasons for.

  12. It’s a pity that neither Cameron White nor George Bailey have given evidence that they could bat at test level. Both of them are successful Shield Captains. Has Watson captained any team since he left Ipswich Grammar?

  13. Peter Flynn says

    The Poms will be giggling.




    Ashes #1 4-nil to England
    Ashes #2 3-1 to England.

  14. Dave

    He’s had the captain’s role in three one day games for 2 wins. Hussey led us to 4 loses in NZ, when I think we were tired after a long home series and more focussed on the World Cup in the Windies.

    Peter, agree. If Clarke was injured in Englad and Watto led us out, it would take all of Al Cook’s dignity not to laugh out loud and remind him of him being scared of ghosts when he was last there.

    The more I think about it, the more I just can’t get it into my head we are having this chat with any seriousness at national level


  15. Jeff Dowsing says

    Speaking of shark jumping, Matthew Wade having a bowl now.

  16. Andrew Starkie says

    agreed Flynny

  17. This article and comments about Shane Watson or Michael Hussey being captain if Michael Clarke is not fit for the next test are illinformed and irrational and nothing more than public bar nonsense talk by parochial Victorian people.
    Watson will be captain if Clarke is not fit because he is vice captain. However, it is more than likely that Clarke will be fit.
    A comment that Peter Siddle should be captain is stupid and ridiculous.
    The only bloke who is playing first class cricket and capable of being an Australian cricket captain is George Bailey. Michael Klinger has shown some potential as the South Australian captain, but other state captains such as Cameron White, Adam Voges, Jim Hopes and Steve O’Keeffe are no chance because they are not good enough to play international test cricket.

  18. Flynny – spot on, the Poms will be giggling. Remember when they used to perpetually select Gatting, Stewart et al and we all laughed? The boot is well and truly on the other foot.

    Watson has to be captain, but Hussey should be.

    If Clarke did a hammy then there is no way he can play.

  19. Sean,

    Watson should not ‘walk out’ as Captain. He should be wheeled out and do we dare risk having him toss the coin?
    The bring back Warney brigade will be in full voice until Boxing Day and some might argue that Punter should have retired at the end of the summer. Maybe it’s time to bring back Bobby Simpson for one last roll of the dice?

  20. Mark – you are a year behind the times. SA has a South African captain this year – Johan Botha. Klinger was last year.

  21. Mark

    As ever, you are honest and direct in your responses and people don’t die wondering with you, however as with Dips’s article the other day about charity at Christmas, you make assumptions about authors and our circumstances that are premature.

    1. You assume I and others making reasonable (and occassionally humorous) comments about Shane Watson’s suitability are Victorian.
    2. Having said that, what is it about a Watson and Hussey comparison debate would indicate Victorian parochialism? If my piece or other responses called for a knee jerk reaction to bring back Shane or promote White, I’d give you that point.
    3. What do you have against public bar talk nonsense?
    4. What do you have against writing that isn’t esoteric, mature and intellectual?
    5. Whilst I agree there’s a negligible chance of Siddle being captain, I am not sure it can be categorised as stupid or ridiculous.
    6. You are incorrect, as pointed out, about Kilinger.
    7. State captaincy is no indication of national preparedness, as often State captains are chosen for their ability to be captains through the domestic season, and so are invariably players past national selection, as the CA contract list would indicate for Voges, Hopes and O’Keefe.
    7. Maybe you could write an article one day and we could see how you fare.

    As the good book says, he who is without aim, cast the first stone.


  22. I am a Watson fan.
    Real problems are the cockroach push for Bollinger and Haddin.
    Watson is a fantastic cricketer and Australia’s vice-captain.

  23. Is Bob Simpson available?

  24. There is something intangible about Watson which is a turn-off for the average punter. But credit where it is due: he did not get the figures, but bowled very well today in Hobart. I thought he really contributed to the win (just not with the bat).

  25. I’m really beginning to think he’s a 1st change bowler and a number 8 batsman.

  26. MOC, I know you are jossing but Simmo was a flog and propped AB – himself not a great captain.

  27. He is an opening batsman. Once the shine goes and the field disperses he is not so effective. I don’t necessarily endorse the obsession with his stats – if I batted 3 or 4 I would love an opener who always got 20 to 50 and took the shine off … then the middle order can cash in. 5 or 150 (Warneresque) is too problematical when picking your 3 and 4.

  28. Crio, all jokes aside, he is an interesting study. There is a great deal of truth in what you say re that lack of effectiveness. He can’t manoeuvre the ball for singles and twos and he exhibits poor footwork. Footwork is not everything (Sehwag) but it helps.

    That’s why I’m thinking a little more radically (batting at 7 or 8 and batting hopefully around the second new ball) and bowling more.

    I don’t like promising 30’s. Maybe because I made too many of them myself.

  29. Skip of Skipton says

    Wade’s got some heat. 132kph! Maybe he plays a bowler and Haddin keeps.

  30. I used to dream of making 30s.

    Mark Doyle for captain.

  31. steve duffy says

    Couldn’t agree more

  32. Whilst I agree Mike Hussey should be chosen as skipper before him, I still believe Watson has a lot to offer. Fragile body and Chris Gayle-taunts aside, you have to look at him as an all-rounder, not as a specialist bat. He has scored over 2000 runs @ 36 (what did Botham average with the bat?). I concede it’s a tad concerning that he has only scored 2 centuries, but don’t forget he has produced a stack of scores in the 80-99 range, which you take every time. Also, he performed admirably as an opener – averaging 44 (which is higher than Chris Gayle). When his body is right, he has looked dangerous as a bowler as well. 60 odd wickets @ 29 is very handy indeed. Let’s hope he can have his most productive years as a cricketer between the ages of 31-35 ala Matty Hayden.

  33. Andrew Starkie says

    I’m a Victorian and a Roo and parochial.

    Sidds for captain!

  34. Surely Clarke will play anyway. Kallis played in Perth with a shorter turnaround between games. But the leadership void in Australian cricket is worrying, no idea where our next long term skipper will come from.

  35. In some defence of Watson (which I know seems hypocritical), although I don’t like or want him as captain, I think he has always suffered by us and the selectors wanting him to be a genuine all rounder in the mould of Botham, Dev, Imran, Hadlee, and maybe latterly, Pollock, Broad and Flintoff (the last one especially). We want a strike bowler and top order batsman.

    We have looked to him to open or bat first drop and therefore make at least 50, then bowl 25 overs and take 2-3 wickets. I agree with those who say he should be a lower order player and a support bowler. He isn’t Kallis, but who is.

    Australia has suffered just as much looking for the next Warne as we have looking for another Miller. in reality, our best all rounder since Miller or Davisdon was Gilchrist. Years of ODIs gave us trundlers and handy lower order players like Hopes, Harvey, SOD and Symonds, and even the last one never really fulfilled both roles we needed in a test team.

    Partly for the reason that we want Watson to make 50s and 5 fors, and partly because I think it will distract him (and a small part that I think he’s a tool), Hussey for mine.


  36. I’m a roo and unbiased too, sides for captain!

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