Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Watson the man to lead Australia rebuilding

January 14, 2011

CRICKET-ASHES/The cornerstone of Australia’s past and many successes was often their stubbornness and competitiveness but with the nation at an all time low the new way forward is honesty and the equation is a basic one.

Elementary, Shane Watson.

The man can bat, bowl and field, as he showed during the 3-1 Ashes defeat to England and the two Twenty20 internationals, but what was most notable about the all-rounder was his honesty in front of cameras.

Asked in Melbourne if he thought his team could prevent another drubbing, he paused and let out a little laugh.

Contrast this with the captain in Sydney, Michael Clarke, who after day three with his side already 208 runs behind said he thought Australia could still win the match.

Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor and Allan Border, the captains to have guided Australia through the past two decades of unheralded success, would have said the same no doubt, so it is no surprise Clarke responded defiantly in the face of the media.

But the remedy for Australia’s woes is not the old school, it’s the likes of Watson, who performed well in the Ashes despite the constant pressure his side were under.

Watson was also the person most of the English side said they would like to get out, a reflection on how prized his wicket is. The blonde Australian was also often seen in verbal jousts with England’s bowlers and displayed a very clear competitive edge.

At 29 he is no youngster, but Clarke turns 30 before Watson. There is no telling whether Watson is a readymade captain candidate, but Australia would do well to listen to his views as they begin their rebuilding process.

PHOTO:  Shane Watson celebrates after dismissing England’s Paul Collingwood during the third day of the second Ashes cricket test in Adelaide. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas

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