Shane Watson has unarguably been one of Australia’s most prolific all-rounders with 291 wickets and 10950 runs to his name in 307 international matches. He has always delivered for Australia, be it with the bat or with the ball. And it hasn’t been anything different when it comes to emulating his international records in the IPL.
2611 runs at an average of 31.84 and 83 wickets at an average of 27.95 in 98 IPL matches is no child’s play. Yet, Watson has achieved all these with utmost ease. Nine years of IPL career and the Australian is still here playing and sharing his valuable inputs with the young players, even after his retirement from all forms of international cricket.
However, while comparing his Rajasthan Royals records with that of the past couple of years, it becomes quite evident that he has suffered a huge dip in form. Watson only looks like a shadow of the player he used to be two years ago. It seems that age and fitness have taken a toll on him.
Even his poor performances in four out of the five matches that he has played for Royal Challengers Bangalore in this edition so far, have been a cause of concern. He has leaked runs at a dismal economy rate of 10.31, picking up just two wickets and hasn’t done anything notable with the bat as well, scoring just 61 runs at a strike rate of just 96.82.
Here, we will have a look at 5 reasons why Watson Should be dropped.
#1 Batting woes since last edition
Some players have always performed in the IPL and made the tournament their own. And Watson is one of them; a batsman who has piled heaps and heaps of runs year in year out. He had maintained a batting average of more than 30 in each edition till 2015, except once in 2014, when he averaged 20.
However, Watson’s batting has suffered a lot since joining RCB last year. He averaged just 13.76 with the bat in 16 matches last year and this year, it hasn’t been anything different, as has averaged a mere 15.25 in four matches.
Whatever be the issue, there is no room for a batsman in the team who can’t deliver with the bat for 20 matches at a stretch.
#2 Dip in bowling form
All-Rounders should be able to compensate with their bowling if they fail to contribute with the bat. And that is what kept Watson in the thick of things for RCB last season, as he picked up 20 wickets in their quest to the finals. However, he hasn’t had the best of starts to the ongoing edition of IPL and has picked up only 2 wickets in four matches, leaking runs at an economy rate of over 10.
So far, he has failed to provide the team any kind of stability with the ball at any stage. Moreover, it also looks like he has lost a fair bit of pace and the mean bouncer he was known for, is not effective anymore. Therefore, Watson has failed to tick this box as well.
#3 A slow fielder
The result of RCB’s opening encounter against SRH could have been different if Watson had caught Yuvraj’s catch when he was on a score of 30 odd runs. The ball was in the air for a long time as Yuvraj skied it off Chahal’s bowling.
It only needed a swift fielder to move in quickly underneath the ball from the edge of the 30-yard circle. However, it took Watson an eternity to cover that small distance and the ball landed safely inside the ring.
Moreover, his physical condition also doesn’t make him a safe boundary fielder either. Hence, Watson deserves to be dropped from the fielding perspective as well.
#4 Better overseas players on the bench
As RCB do not have the luxury of playing another quality overseas all-rounder, they should look at playing either a pure bowler or a pure batsman in place of Watson. Samuel Badree has shown why he should be in the playing XI in place of Watson. He took a superb hat-trick that almost helped Bangalore to defend a low total.
Another option is Travis Head who is a talented young batsman and offers some handy off-spin bowling option as well. A player who can neither deliver with the bat nor with the ball and whose fielding is woeful certainly doesn’t deserve a place in the team in a highly competitive tournament like the IPL.
#5 Vulnerable to injuries
Shane Watson has been a victim to almost all kinds of injuries – back stress fractures, hamstring problems, hip problems, dislocated shoulder et al. In T20s, it is very important to have players in the team who are at their peak fitness; players who can respond to the demands of modern day cricket.
And Shane Watson is definitely not one of those players, given the fragile condition of his body. So, it is time to infuse young blood into the team who can meet all the requirements of T20 cricket.
(This Article first appeared in the Sportskeeda on April 18,2017)