SHANE WATSON has suggested for the first time that his role as an allrounder in all three formats is unsustainable, and hinted that he might consider becoming a specialist batsman.
The injury-plagued Watson broke down for the second time this summer during the Boxing Day Test and said he would talk to the Cricket Australia hierarchy about how to stay on the park, even if that meant scaling back his bowling.
"It's been frustrating. It's been something that's been hanging around for the last six months, it was good after Hobart and leading into this Test it started to play up a little bit and unfortunately didn't hold together throughout this Test match," Watson told Channel Nine. "I am certainly doing some thinking about what my prospects are moving forward with my bowling especially, I have to sit down with the hierarchy and work out the best way to manage things so I can put some cricket together for a period of time.
"(I) especially want to get some continuity together with my batting. When you get injured it makes it difficult to build some momentum. It was nice to score some runs in this innings, but it means I am going to be out for a couple of weeks.
"At the moment I am trying to do the best job I can with bat and ball but my batting is being affected in certain ways and obviously I can't stay on the park consistently, and that's where we have to sit down and try to work through it."
Captain Michael Clarke said he wouldn't scale back Watson's bowling workload unless he changed his mind about being an all-rounder. Watson was more vulnerable than usual to injury leading into the Boxing Day Test because he had bowled a career-high 47.4 overs in Hobart, where Ben Hilfenhaus broke down with a side strain. The vice-captain was only expected to bowl a handful of overs at the MCG even before he re-injured his left calf.
The setback happened while bowling in the first innings, but Watson went on to make 83.
''It's a tough one. There's certainly times I try and look after him, especially batting in the top four … the closer you get to us having to bat I try and pull him off and make sure he's got time to freshen up before batting. That certainly was a factor in moving him down to No.4, that it gave us an opportunity to use him more with the ball and still have time to recover before he walked out to bat. Unless anything has changed with Shane, I still see him as a fantastic all-rounder,'' Clarke said.
''I've said for a while, that is really decided by Watto. He wants to be an all-rounder, so at this stage it's about if you're an all-rounder you've got to bat and bowl,'' he added. ''Unless that changes in his mind, it won't change in mine.''