Shane Watson’s calf injury, which will see him unable to play at least until the semi-finals in the cricket World Cup, will hardly have opposition teams jumping for joy. In fact, it may just be the opposite. While it will temporarily upset the balance of the Australian one-day side, this is quickly curtailed by the fact that playing an extra bowler of the calibre of Stuart Clark or bringing back in-form batsman Brad Hodge, who can bowl off-spin, presents a more formidable line-up.

Watson has been gifted an unprecedented armchair ride in the Australian side based on promising talent. Australia is still obsessed with finding an all-rounder since Andrew Flintoff’s magnificent effort in the 2005 Ashes series. But the fact remains that Watson is a robotic cricketer who has never really made the grade. He possesses none of the flair of Andrew Sydmonds, nor the natural talent of Ricky Ponting or the versatility or variety in his bowling of any of the current Australian fast bowlers.

Watson predominately plays in a safe arc with the bat scoring his runs between mid-off and mid-on and generally bowls straight deliveries that don’t swing or seam. They might be around 140km/h, but to any international batsmen, that is not going to worry them too much if the ball is not doing much.

Furthermore, he is constantly injury prone. Stress fractures, shoulder operations, hamstring tears and calf muscle injuries seem destined to plague his career – not that his current form warrants a long stint at the highest level in either form of the game.

So far in this World Cup he has come in late in the innings and swung the bat with some success, but his bowling has been largely ineffective. Not once has he bowled out his full quota of 10 overs and he has only taken two wickets from his 23.4 bowled at an average of 49.5 – hardly threatening.

Whether Watson plays again or not will have no bearing on Australia’s chance of winning the World Cup – in fact it will probably enhance Australia’s prospects if he remains injured.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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