Shane Watson has been in the news for good and wrong reasons of late. Exactly one week after he along with James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja, was dropped on disciplinary grounds on eve of the third Test at Mohali, the 31-year-old, who is the vice-captain, is expected to lead the Australian team in the event of skipper Michael Clarke not recovering from back pain in the fourth and final Test at New Delhi.
A peeved Watson flew down to Australia to be in time of his son’s birth last week. But there are dramatic change of events since then. Better sense seems to be prevailed in both the camps.
Clarke, who initiated the decision along with coach Micky Arthur to drop the players for not making presentations, hinted that if he would not be fit then Watson is expected to lead the side in the fourth Test. Brad Haddin, who flew in as a replacement to injured Matthew Wade, captained the side on the fourth day at Mohali.
Meanwhile, Watson admitted he might have got a bit carried away while protesting against Cricket Australia’s high-performance manager Pat Howard’s criticism of his team spirit, saying that he was going through a lot at that time, although he said that he is pleased by how things have panned out.
Watson had constructive discussions with Howard before flying back to Delhi on Monday. He was the cynosure when he batted for long at the nets on Wednesday.
So when Ed Cowans came to address the media, he was asked about Clarke’s injury’s status. Cowans said the best medical team was attending on the Australian skipper.
“He (Clarke) has not missed a Test yet so he is not expecting to miss this. But it is a day-to-day proposition so I don’t know what is the possibility or the probability of playing Test matches but he is pretty confident I guess because he is so familiar with it and it is something that he deals on a daily basis. He will be alright I guess,” said an optimistic Cowans.
At the same length, Cowans said if Clarke would not recover in time then the team will be happy if Watson led the side. “Firstly it is important to know that Michael (Clarke) is expected to play so at the moment Shane Watson isn’t the captain of the team.
“If that happened, the team is very happy with that because he is the vice-captain of the tour and there are expectations that the vice-captain steps up if the captain is injured. I guess we know that was always going to be a possibility. Shane (Watson) is quite a good player and a good leader in his own right so it will be a good opportunity for him if he gets that opportunity,” he added.
Incidentally, out of the four, apart from Watson, Pattinson and Johnson are expected to play in this Test. The fiery Pattinson will come in place of the injured Mitchell Starc, who has seen flown back to Australia while Johnson may replace Moises Henriques, who has disappointed since his dream debut in the first Test.
Johnson may add variety to the attack with his left arm seam and can add teeth to the brittle batting. He like Starc can be useful with the bat lower in the order. But Khawaja may have to sit out as Phillip Hughes showed signs of some form with the bat at Mohali.
But for Watson, who has distinction of leading Australia in nine one-day internationals, it could be a moment of truth.