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He has answered questions about his bowling emphatically and he did exactly what he was required to do in the second innings with the bat.
After failing in the first innings, on a pitch that was clearly an absolute belter, there was already people muttering (especially from some English mates) questions over the wraps he was getting.
In Australia I don’t think there is many questions over his batting. I think it’s fair to say what has held him back from getting 100% support is his lack of penetration with the ball. Despite his first few tests being on the dull pitches of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, he never really had any shape, he went for a few runs and never really looked settled as a bowler.
His spell against the English at the MCG for the world cup opener was a break through, but general consensus was that a lot of his wickets were pretty lucky. The English ended up going on to have a terrible world cup to prove that judging him on poor quality opposition wasn’t going to satisfy the masses.
After winning the battle with Watson for the teams’ all-rounder spot, he was promptly dropped after the group stages match against New Zealand. Watson experience was said to be the reason, and even as the most avid anti-Watson campaigner I know, I have to say that Watson is an ODI beast. His record is excellent and his bowling is tight. A couple of tight overs means a lot more in ODI than it does in tests. So I believe they made the correct call.
I also appreciate that it has given Marsh a chance to bang the door down for selection. Instead of people still wondering if he was up for it, his back to back hundreds in the Ashes warm up games gave him the momentum and support needed to make a serious case to say ‘I’m here, I’m in form and you are better with me in the team than out of it.’
There were still the question whether he could he fill the position of 5th bowler. If that question wasn’t answered after making the two most important break throughs of the English first innings, they certainly should be after he came on and grabbed one in his first over of the second.
When you add his job description for the second innings and his execution it’s hard to see a way back for Watson.
Coming into bat at number 5 with quick runs the order of the day, he made sure he blocked the ones that he needed to, showed more patience that Warner has been able to, and when the time came, hit two beautiful sixes to get the total over 500 with enough time to get a few overs back at the old enemy before lunch.
He has bought himself the rest of this series and I would feel confident enough to say has simply made the roll his own, without scoring a century or ripping the bowling attack apart with the bat. His 3 wickets till tea in this match, on a pitch that seriously hasn’t offered anything special, have answered the only questions left of him.
There is no doubt that 95% of the country is breathing a collective sigh of relief that after 13 years, it’s clear that the selectors no longer need to tell us that Watson is close to filling his potential. They have someone 10 years younger with the right attitude that was never seen in Watson.
Game, Set, Match Watto…. Piss off your out.