Australia's Watson steps down as vice captain

MELBOURNE Sat Apr 20, 2013 11:50am IST

Australia's Shane Watson prepares to hit a shot during the second day of the second cricket test against Sri Lanka at the Melbourne Cricket Ground December 27, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray/Files

Australia's Shane Watson prepares to hit a shot during the second day of the second cricket test against Sri Lanka at the Melbourne Cricket Ground December 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/David Gray/Files

Related Topics

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Shane Watson has stood down as vice captain of Australia in all cricket formats following the test team's humiliating 4-0 series loss to India, citing a need to focus his attention on scoring runs and taking wickets.

The injury-prone 31-year-old's place in Michael Clarke's side has been questioned following the India tour, where he averaged just 16 with the bat and was stood down for the third test along with three other players for failing to complete a team assignment.

"I think it's the right time for a change for both the team and me," Watson said in a statement released by Cricket Australia on Saturday.

"I'll be honest and admit I wrestled with the decision for some time, however once I made up my mind, I informed Cricket Australia so the selectors could consider their options for the Ashes given the squads will be announced soon.

"I want to be the best test player I can be for Australia and think I can do that by stepping down from the vice captaincy to focus my attention on scoring runs, taking wickets and doing whatever is necessary to help the team achieve success.

"I won't be the vice captain in title but I think I can still be a leader and strong contributor around the group."

The India series sounded alarm bells back home ahead of back-to-back Ashes series this year, with the brittle Australian batting order ruthlessly exposed on the subcontinent.

'TOUGH CALL'

Watson has been among their biggest strugglers, managing only a solitary half-century in his past 14 innings, despite shelving his medium-paced bowling for the India tour.

The barrel-chested Queenslander decided to give up the ball at least temporarily after repeatedly breaking down with injuries. The lighter workload did not lead to more runs, however, and only robbed Australia of an effective wicket-taker.

"Shane Watson should be commended for making the tough call to step down from the vice captaincy to focus on playing," national selector John Inverarity said.

"Regardless, he will still be an important senior leader within the team.

"The national selection panel will now consider and then put a vice captaincy recommendation to the Cricket Australia board for its approval."

The announcement is sure to stoke debate in Australia as to whether Watson stepped down of his own accord or was pushed.

Local media have long speculated he and captain Michael Clarke do not see eye-to-eye and Cricket Australia's high performance manager Pat Howard left few in doubt Watson was under pressure by declaring him only "sometimes" a team player.

After being dumped for the third test in India, Watson flew home to be with his heavily pregnant wife and said he was weighing up his future in the game.

He re-committed to playing for his country and was sensationally reinstated to lead the team to a fourth successive test defeat in the absence of the injured Clarke.

While Watson has had a chequered record as Clarke's deputy, his replacement is likely to attract plenty of scrutiny Down Under, with most of the team inexperienced and out of form.

Openers David Warner and Ed Cowan have been touted for the role by local media, despite boasting only 36 tests between them. (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Simon Evans/Peter Rutherford)

FILED UNDER:

Australian Open

Novak Djokovic (L) of Serbia watches as Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland walks off the court after their men's singles semi-final match at the Australian Open 2015 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 30, 2015. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Djokovic beats Wawrinka, to face Murray

Novak Djokovic once again stood tall at the Australian Open as he reached his fourth final in the past five years with another five-set victory over Stan Wawrinka, the man who dumped him out of Melbourne Park last year.  Full Article 

Reuters Showcase

GDP Growth

GDP Growth

India's economic growth revised up by almost 50 pct.  Full Article 

Stake Sale

Stake Sale

Strong demand for Coal India boosts privatisation drive.  Full Article 

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet board approves up to $243 mln share sale plan  Full Article 

India Art Fair

India Art Fair

Art fair turns India's capital into art hub.  Full Article 

Child Trafficking

Child Trafficking

Police find hundreds of child slaves making bangles - media   Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Rahasya" is an ode to Agatha Christie.  Full Article 

England Beat India

England Beat India

England reach final after Taylor-made victory.  Full Article 

Change Of Heart

Change Of Heart

Justin Bieber says dropping 'arrogant' and 'conceited' attitude  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage