I miss my bowling: Shane Watson
From the outside, sport is all about defeating the opponents by displaying superior technical, mental and physical skills. But a sneak peek into a sportsman’s mind will tell you that before taking on his opponent, he takes on himself. He convinces his body and mind to support him in his pursuit of displaying his skills. At times, it can be a very tough task.
Shane Watson will testify. A highly skilled all-rounder with the ability to win matches with bat or ball alone, Watson’s strongest opponent through his cricketing career has been his own body. He has fought it consistently, winning sometimes, losing many more.
But thankfully for Watson, his mind has been his loyal ally, helping him emerge through injuries and display his skills. Currently, he has reached a truce with his body and decided to give up bowling for a while. Watson is not happy about it but he knows it’s a price he has to pay to be able to contribute in building a young Australian team.
For that, the flamboyant opening batsman has agreed to strengthen the Test team’s middle-order in this series with his experience of playing on the Indian tracks. And to fulfil the challenge, the pace relishing batsman has worked hard on his skills against the spin bowlers.
While disappointed for not being able to save Australia from a position of a certain defeat, Watson knows his best is around the corner. At the end of Day-four, one of the most experienced members of the current Australian squad, Watson spoke with bcci.tv about the Chennai Test, the team’s strategy going further in the series and gave an insight into his own game.
Where do you think the match slipped out of Australia’s hand?
I think it really came down to MS Dhoni. The way he batted was amazing to watch, really. With the way he took on the game and kept going for so long, he changed the game significantly. That was the big turning point of this match. He batted beautifully and put India in the position they are now.
Can we expect to see a second spinner in Australia’s playing XI for the second Test, in Hyderabad?
I think that might come into consideration, especially after seeing the way this wicket panned out and at times, how difficult it was for our quicks to penetrate. A second spinner will come into calculation in the second Test knowing that Hyderabad track can turn quite a bit as well. I’m sure we’ll be thinking about that.
You batted at No. 4 in the first innings, had to open in the second. Does it disturb the mindset?
No, you’ve just got to go with it. It was unfortunate that Dave [Warner] had a little bit of sickness through that period of time. In such situations you have to reset your mind very quickly for opening the batting. Also, it’s something that I enjoy doing, although I wasn’t able to bat as long as I’d have liked. But it didn’t really affect me at all.
How are you coping with the decision to give up bowling?
It’s just for this Test series as I’ve just come back from my calf injury. It’s been a tough decision. Yesterday was a very tough day personally for me to not be in a position where I could bowl. As an all-rounder one thing I like to do most is contribute to the team especially when the chips are down. Yesterday probably reaffirmed to me that I’m certainly not giving up my bowling for good because I did miss it. So, I’m just going to try and find a bit of form with the bat and give my body some time to get back to the state where I can bowl.
Often, an all-rounder like one aspect of his game affects the other. Can you disassociate your bowling and batting from each other?
In one-day and Twenty20 cricket it doesn’t have much effect but in Test cricket it’s been more so when my performance with the ball has affected my batting and vice a versa. I’ve spoken to Michael [Clarke] and coach Mickey Arthur to find the best balance wherein I can give the team what’s required with the ball without getting injured and continue to contribute with the bat at my best too. In the end it’s just the matter of finding the perfect balance of the number of overs I bowl. But yes, I missed bowling yesterday so I will do what it takes to strengthen my body in a way that it can handle the load of bowling.
Have you had to make any specific changes to your batting technique to bat in the middle order?
I’ve made a few little adjustments. It’s been nice to see my improvement batting against spin in recent times. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to show that for a long period of time in this Test match but I have made some adjustments that will pay dividends in the long run. I’m trying to use my feet a lot to the spinners compared to just sitting in the crease which I used to do. It gives me a few more scoring options and helps me put pressure on the bowler. I’ve made technical and mindset changes from when I played Test cricket here in the past.
You’re one of the only four members of the Aus squad who have played a Test in India before. Is that a huge responsibility?
It certainly is. I’ve been very lucky to have played a lot of cricket in India in all formats of the game. Test cricket here, especially, is very different from the way we play at home. So, I’ve been helping out the younger guys as much as I can. It’s a big challenge even for those who have here before and more so for the first-timers. We will all learn from our experience in this Test match and we will definitely improve in the second.
You have 19 fifties and 2 tons in Tests. That conversion rate doesn’t do justice to your batting abilities.
My batting in Test cricket has been a disappointing thing in my cricket career. There was a time when I was injury-free and could’ve had a very successful period but I couldn’t. I know that I’ve got a lot of Test runs in me and I feel like I have the game to do well in Test cricket like I’ve done in other formats of the game. Hopefully, I can remain free from injury for a longer period of time to build on the momentum. It’s certainly more mental than technical thing. It’s a mental challenge that I’ve got to do what the best players in the world do over and over again. It’s something that I’ve been working on really hard and I know a new beginning is just around the corner as I have most things in place now.