Even as the Aussies are high on morale in the World Cup, there still remain doubts over a couple of individual performances. Most notably is all-rounder Shane Watson who is facing “crunch time” with the bat as the former battles to stay in the Australian side ahead of their World Cup clash with co-hosts New Zealand. In the midst of Australia’s hammering 111-run opening win over England at Melbourne, Watson was dismissed by paceman Stuart Broad for a golden duck. And since then, the 33-year old has been under severe criticism for his poor performance with the bat.
With a poor run of form, many observers are even contending that he is not a good enough as a batsman or bowler to hold down a place in the side. His cause was not helped when Australia`s second Pool A game against Brisbane last weekend was washed out without a ball bowled and Watson`s World Cup could now depend on how he performs against New Zealand at Auckland`s Eden Park on Saturday albeit if selected.
He said, “It`s crunch time for me to score runs in general. It was disappointing not to get through that first ball,” said Watson of his Melbourne dismissal. “But it`s important for me to score runs anytime. It`s up to the selectors in the end, whether they see fit for me to play,” he added. “I have been involved in a number of World Cups and I know what to expect. But I`m doing everything I possibly can. “I just want to score runs and I know it doesn`t always go exactly to plan as well.”
Prior to the World Cup, Watson had a decent 81 in the Sydney Test against India last month before a run of below-par contributions with the bat in ODIs -16, 41, 22 and 34 prior to his Melbourne duck.
Let alone the bat, his bowling too has been not shoddy. Watson’s last five matches for Australia have yielded just one wicket and his place would appear to be under threat once fellow all-rounder James Faulkner returns to fitness. Faulkner was seen bowling in the Australian nets on Wednesday but is not expected to play on Saturday. Watson has 435 runs, including four fifties, in 16 World Cup games at an average of more than 54. New Zealand are in rich vein of form at the moment with two out two wins in their opening games and this tie could eventually decide which nation takes the top spot in Group A. As for Shane Watson, the all-rounder needs a lesson or two from Shikhar Dhawan who had faced the same abomination when under pressure to perform.