After legendary Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan scored 20 consecutive points for his team, an assistant coach reminded him that “there is no I in team”. Jordan responded in a way only he has the right to – “Yes, but there is in win”. For the casual sports fan, this may seem to exude arrogance beyond what is acceptable, but for keen followers of any sport, it is great to see someone who can actually stick by his words and “walk the walk”.
Unfortunately for the Australian Cricket Team’s vice-captain Shane Watson, his mindset of putting himself before the team puts a toxic cloud over a team which is already struggling to find its feet in India’s harsh subcontinental conditions. While it may be arguable that the penalties handed out to Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja and James Pattinson may be a tad harsh, it was a necessary step to ensuring a “team-first” mentality is engrained in this new-look Australian team.
While the pitfalls of the other 3 players dropped are less obvious, Shane Watson has always confused selectors, his team, the Australian public and probably himself. Struck down with injury after injury, the obvious solution was to cut his bowling completely off. While this may seem an extreme measure, given his successful and probing stump-to-stump medium pacers and ability to swing the ball both conventionally and in reverse, it was a necessary sacrifice to ensure he could take his place in the side.
So now for the confusing part. When Shane Watson is injured, he publically states that he should focus on his batting and not worry about risking injury through bowling. A perfectly sane statement. Given our bowling depth, we almost don’t need to even consider having another bowler. However, when Watto is fit and healthy and in the team, all he can think about is getting an opportunity to bowl. I’ve lost count as to how many times he has swung back and forth, but this certainly doesn’t give confidence to anyone vested in the Australian Cricket Team.
The most frustrating part about what Shane Watson does to the team is his constant battle for the opening position alongside David Warner. While he “claims” that he will do what the team needs him to do, on a number of occasions he has blatantly campaigned for this opening position. Can you imagine how this must feel for Ed Cowan? Firstly, your Vice Captain who is supposed to be supporting you and assisting in leading the team is treating you like someone who shouldn’t be in the team. The tension this must create in a dressing room already bombarded with scepticism and criticism from the national media is both unnecessary and irresponsible. Cowan would definitely not be happy with this, and maybe the pressure from Watto has spurred on his revival of some sorts in India, but nevertheless, this must do terrible things for team culture.
After this latest Shane Watson moment, where he decided not to complete his “homework”, where does this leave his position in the Australian team? His role as Vice Captain will surely be surrendered. It just doesn’t make sense that someone in a leadership position will decide to skip out on doing something for the team, whether it be improve the culture, or identify areas in which they can improve, on the field and off the field. A Vice Captain, while not the leader of the team, should support his captain, as well as those above him (coaches, managers etc), but by doing this it shows he has no regard for the team. “I’m Shane Watson. Why do I have to give a presentation on improving the team?!?” He hasn’t said this publically, but there can’t be any other reason as to why he didn’t do his part for the team.
Next you must question his place in the team entirely. Based on what we’ve seen in India, there is absolutely no reason why he should be in the team. He isn’t bowling, so technically he’s a batter? Right? Shane Watson currently ranks outside the top 10 of my Australian batsman, even behind wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, all-rounders Henriques and Maxwell, as well as players not even in the squad, such as Shaun Marsh, Adam Voges and even T20 Captain George Bailey. Even if his ability was up to scratch, Watson’s application is nowhere near where it should be. In his last 26 Test innings (since the beggining of 2011), Watson has faced 50 ball in an innings just 9 times. Cowan meanwhile, the man he is seeking to replace at the top of the order has achieved the feat 15 times in his 26 career Test innings.
With his role as Vice Captain surely no more, there is no reason for him to be in the side. Get him out. Simple. His undermining of the leadership in the Australian team can be tolerated no longer, and to be honest, I don’t think he even really wants to play Test cricket anymore. While Michael Clarke has given up on the lucrative IPL and T20 internationals, Watson still wants to top up his bank account, get injured just before a crucial series, and then spend his recovery time complaining and thinking of nothing but himself.
Back to the pavilion Shane Watson. And please don’t return.