x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Australia's Shane Watson must be told to play as all-rounder in Ashes

Vice-captain adds very little value to the Test squad merely as a batsman and must do what it takes to start bowling again.

Shane Watson has given up bowling because of injury problems. William West / AFP
Shane Watson has given up bowling because of injury problems. William West / AFP

So, the good news for Australia, or so it appears on paper, is that Shane Watson has put his toys back in the pram and has agreed to return to India to complete the disappointing tour.

Watson had flounced off, back to Australia, last week after he was one of the four players removed from being considered for team selection over the team discipline row.

But as he flies back for the fourth Test in Delhi after the loss in Mohali in the third Test to go 3-0 down in the series, the question is: should he actually be going?

As a batsman, Watson has failed to convince in the Test arena and his true value in the past has been as an all-rounder, acting as a fifth bowler with his medium pace.

But since suffering a calf injury he has not bowled this year and his lack of runs, 77 at an average of 19.25, make it hard to see the fuss in getting him back. Surely it would make more sense for him to stay in Australia, get fit and give them another bowling option in England in the summer.

It is hard to justify a spot in the side, at present, for Watson the batsman. But Watson, the batsman who weighs in with a few wickets, now that is a lot more appealing.

Given his current form, bat him at No 6 or even No 7 as an all-rounder and he would add depth lower down the order. The series in India is lost already. A win in Delhi, in the fourth Test, will mean little.

The focus now has to be on the Ashes and if Watson is to justify his position in the team he has to do it with a ball in his hand.

gcaygill@thenational.ae

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