The 5th and final test of the Ashes Series is imminent and thus selection speculation for the Australia team is rife. The usual phalanx of former players and commentators (including those of the armchair variety) have come out of the woodwork to demand the dropping of Shane Watson. In reply I ask: are you drunk?
I know that question is inflammatory and condescending, and on that basis I withdraw it in order to pose it in a different way: on form, in comparison to the other batters in the team, explain to me why Watson ought to be dropped?
Here is the exercise I would like all those calling for such a change to the Australia team to undertake: set aside your irritation at his use of the DRS as well as your irrational hatred of his, alleged, personality traits (and look at his actual form.
Some number to assist with that exercise are as follows:
· Watson is Australia’s 3rd highest run scorer in the series after Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers.
· Watson has a better batting average in this series than Messrs Khawaja, Cowan, Smith, Haddin and Hughes.
· If one broadens the scope and includes England batters in the equation then the following batters have also scored less runs than Watson despite having played the same number of tests: Bairstow, Trott and Prior. It is also worth noting that his 180 runs aside at Lords, Joe Root has only scored 80 runs in 7 innings at an average of just over 10.
Forget the Australian batters for a moment, are the people suggesting Watson be dropped also lining up to suggest that Jonathan Trott be sacked? Are they also suggesting that Joe Root be dropped? I think not.
Steve Smith and Uzman Khawaja are obviously in worse form than Watson and whilst Khawaja’s name has been mentioned in dispatches as being a prime target to have been dropped, Steve Smith’s name has not been mentioned. Shouldn’t he, Smith, be ahead of Watson in the dropping stakes?
I am all for debate: debate is the cornerstone of intelligent discussion. That said, I would really like it if the debate was based on the actual numbers and actual form of the players rather than issues, imagined or otherwise, one has with the person.
If Watson is to miss the 5th test at the Oval, as sad as it is to say, I hope it is due to injury because if he is dropped on form it makes a mockery of the selection process given the form of other players with lesser claims to being in the team.