Cricket Australia Items/Blogs/dean-wilson/2013/8/22/watson-apples-and-meerkats

Dean Wilson

Watson, apples and meerkats

22 August 2013 28

Cricket Correspondent for the UK's Daily Mirror newspaper Dean Wilson says Shane Watson has finally found his Ashes home at No.3 after day one of the fifth Test at The Oval.

Well, well, well. How do you like them Watson apples?

After popping up and down the Australian batting order like a meerkat on acid, Shane Watson finally found his Ashes home at No.3 to score his first ton against England.

And what a mighty fine hundred it was too. It had everything.

The big booming cover drives, the big shout for lbw for the straight one, powerful pulls and hooks.

Even a heart-stopping brutal blow to the side of the head that threatened to have him retire hurt.

He carried on and showed the sort of toughness that belonged to the gnarled old warriors of the past, together with the skill and class that belongs to those with sublime talent.

With 176 to him personally and 307-4 for the team, it was a good day for Shane Watson and Australia.

Let us not forget that Watson has had as difficult a time as an international cricketer as anyone could wish to avoid, going back to India when he was suspended over a lack of homework.

That was under Mickey Arthur and when he was sacked, it was poor old 'Watto' who took the flack for being having a 'cancerous' relationship with the captain Michael Clarke.

Having to face up to that sort of constant scrutiny must have been hard for him, as too his troubles with lbw against England's pace bowlers.

He managed to avoid getting into too much front pad trouble this time, although he should have been caught on 104 at slip. Still he rode his luck and perhaps Watson more than any other player deserved a bit of luck.

Arthur has since admitted the Indian episode lost him a lot of respect in Watson's eyes and subsequently he wouldn't follow the coach on a journey together.

Well, pretty much all of that can be washed away on the back of this innings, especially if it leads to a rare Australian victory.

That is what performance can do for players and teams.

They really only care about winning, and it doesn't matter too much how they get there as long as they get there.

With Steve Smith putting another decent knock together, the Australian dressing room would have been a very happy place indeed.

Today was a little personal win for Watson and the confidence both he and the rest of the team will take from it cannot be underestimated.

On the other hand the complete lack of confidence in England's two débutantes Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan was painful to watch at times.

Kerrigan in particular was so nervous when he came on to bowl it was all he could do to just pitch the ball on the cut strip, even if it was a succession of long hops.

It seemed a bizarre couple of selections by England who could have turned to a proven Ashes winning pace bowler in Chris Tremlett to replace the injured Tim Bresnan.

Instead they seem to want to have a look at both Woakes and Kerrigan ahead of the winter tour and thought this might be the best chance to do so.

That is all well and good, but experimenting with two new players when there are another five matches to come Down Under is a big gamble.

England should have played their strongest team for two very straightforward reasons.

They should be doing everything they can to win this series 4-0 and they have a responsibility towards the punters paying over £100 for their tickets each day to put out the very best team they can.

Secondly they shouldn't be doing anything that might give Australia even a percentage increase in their chances of winning back at home.

Unfortunately for Kerrigan that is exactly what his selection has done as Watson launched him time and again towards the boundary.

You can only feel sympathy for the 24-year-old on debut, seizing up and having his nerves get the better of him.

You only really find out whether a guy can handle this environment once you throw him into it, and at the moment the last place Kerrigan belongs is at the bowler's end of a Test pitch.

However there is four more days in this game yet, and there would be nothing better than seeing him return on day two and beyond to show everyone how good he has been at county level and why he has got this chance.

Sadly he may not recover from this baptism of fire, and if that is the case the England selectors and management will have a lot to answer for.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia.
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