As often happens in sport, Shane Watson has sat on the side lines injured during the present test being played at Centurion in South Africa and has seen his replacement, Shaun Marsh, and the new number 3 batsman picked to replace George Bailey, Alex Doolan, both score runs against the bowling attack touted as the best in the world.
These runs for Doolan and Marsh have come despite both players seemingly being out of sorts in the domestic long form of the game in Australia and whilst Watson has succumbed to a calf injury for the, at least, 4th time in recent memory.
The question for the Australian selectors must now be: what do we do with Shane? I know it is only one test match and I know that I am most regularly at the front of the queue when it comes to defending my fellow Ipswichian: but off the back of another injury and limited productivity with the bat over the course of hit career the question must be asked.
For me it actually comes down to what happens when Australia bowl for the win at some point today. Australia only have 4 front line bowlers to share the burden of getting the South Africans out. If they struggle to do so (Adelaide 2012 comes to mind) and start to tire then we will all be looking around for the 5th bowler who can churn through some overs: which is the other string to Watson’s bow. If the quartet of Harris, Johnson, Siddle and Lyon do what they did to England during the summer almost gone in Australia then we may well be asking: Shane who?
For me the balance of any cricket team (forgetting my position firmly as a fan of Shane Watson) is always at its best when it contains 4 front line bowlers with an all rounder who can trundle down some overs when needed. So to me Australia needs to find a place for an all rounder and the best in the country at the moment is Shane Watson.
Unfortunately, that would mean one of the new men in the line up would have to drop out which would be a shame given their form. If that does not happen and the selectors remain keen to select S Watson then I have a real fear the man to go could be the oldest man in the team , Chris Rogers. This would not just be a travesty it, it would be a monumental slap in the face for one of the most popular cricket men in the country. That said, in terms of longevity he would have to be the one in doubt.
Of course this is a good problem to, suddenly it feels, have for Australian cricket administrators and fans: a clamour for seats on the test match bus that has seemed to arrive from nowhere.
Then again though, I may be getting a bit ahead of myself … afterall: we have not won this test yet.