MOHALI – Shane Watson is contemplating his future in the game after being axed from the squad for the Mohali Test on disciplinary grounds and then leaving the tour to be with his pregnant wife. Watson was one of four players punished by the team management for ignoring team orders.
Since being named Michael Clarke’s vice-captain in 2011, Watson’s Twenty20 and ODI displays have remained strong but his Test appearances have been neither consistent nor convincing. His struggles in India despite being one of only two batsmen to have made a Test hundred on the subcontinent were a major contributor to Australia’s 0-2 deficit.
There is little doubt Watson’s T20 career will continue for he is schedule to return to India in April for the IPL, where he had also indicated he would return to bowling for his franchise rather than his country. In ODIs he has the lure of the 2015 World Cup to sustain him. But it is now plausible that at 31 he has played his final Test match.
“Any time you’re suspended for a Test match unless you do something unbelievably wrong, and obviously everyone knows what those rules are ... I think it is very harsh,” Watson told reporters at the team hotel in Chandigarh. “At this point in time I’m at a stage where I’m sort of weighing up my future and what I want to do with my cricket in general, to be honest. I do love playing, there is no doubt about that, but at this point in time I’m going to spend the next few weeks with my family and just weigh up my options of just exactly which direction I want to go.
“There are lot more important things in life - I certainly do love playing cricket and that passion is still there and I feel like I’m in the prime years of my cricket career. From that perspective I still feel like I’ve got a lot to give. But from a holistic perspective I’ve got to sit down with my family and decide which directions they are.”
Watson, along with James Pattinson, Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Johnson were told this morning by the coach Mickey Arthur that, in an unprecedented decision, they would not be considered for the third Test. After the loss in Hyderabad, inside three and a half days, Arthur had asked every member of the squad to let him know three points on how their individual performances and those of the team could be improved. These four players did not comply with the directive.
Watson said he had been going to tell the team management that he would need to miss the fourth Test to be with his wife, who is due at the end of the month, but had been informed of his axing before he could do so. “I was about to communicate that to Mickey and the leadership group today but they obviously beat me to it by telling me I wasn’t selected for this Test match,” he said. “Also overnight, things have changed and Lee wasn’t going to tell me things had changed because she knew how much it meant to me to be able to play this Test match. It was due in a couple of weeks but it’s looking like things have sped up a little bit.”
With four players unavailable, Australia’s squad is down to 13 players for the Mohali Test, and if wicketkeeper Matthew Wade’s ankle does not heal, they will have to pick a team from 12.