BBC BLOGS - Oliver Brett

Archives for November 2010

The paradox of Shane Watson

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Oliver Brett | 08:14 UK time, Thursday, 18 November 2010


How England fans sneered when they saw a familiar blond all-rounder walk out to open the batting for Australia in the Edgbaston Ashes Test of 2009.

Here was a man who had produced one solitary fifty in 13 previous Test innings. He apparently had few credentials as an opener, and was more adept, surely, at batting at six or seven and bowling a few overs of fast-medium. Besides, he seemed to be injured most of the time.

Shane Watson, for he was the man in question, ignored the naysayers, striking 62 and 53 while James Anderson and Graham Onions were swinging the ball sideways. He has played every Test bar one since then, forming a formidable opening partnership with the crab-like Simon Katich, hitting the ball merrily here, there and everywhere with little ceremony spared.

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Australia's downward spiral

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Oliver Brett | 15:48 UK time, Monday, 8 November 2010


There are a number of ways of looking at Australia's poor form entering the Ashes, but the over-riding impression is clear.

If England, who have prepared fastidiously for this tour and have the confidence of an early warm-up win behind them, do not win on Australian soil this time, then one will have to wonder if they ever will again.

International cricket has changed immeasurably since Mike Gatting's team won 2-1 in 1986-87, and in that time England have toured Australia five times and have come back empty-handed five times.

Never on those five trips did they face an Australian side which appeared anything other than extremely formidable opponents. This time, by contrast, they will face a side short of self-belief who have slumped to fifth in the Test rankings.

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