SYDNEY, July 15 (Reuters) - Shane Watson has been dropped from the Australia team for this week’s second Ashes test against England and will be replaced by fellow all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Wednesday.
Watson’s place in the side for the Lord’s test, which starts on Thursday, was called into question after he was twice dismissed lbw after scoring a total of 49 runs and failing to take a wicket in the lost opening test in Cardiff.
The tourists will already be without another experienced former vice captain after wicketkeeper Brad Haddin asked to be omitted from the second test for personal reasons. He will be replaced by debutant Peter Nevill.
Once the golden boy of Australian cricket and still one of the best paid players in the game, Watson’s stock has fallen considerably over the last couple of years.
The 34-year-old lost his place at the top of the batting order -- he batted at number six in Cardiff -- and his bowling, once considered essential to the balance of the side, has also lost some of its bite.
It was his susceptibility to the front pad lbw dismissal, however, that really galvanised calls for him to make way for 23-year-old Marsh, who impressed in his first test series against Pakistan last year despite Australia being defeated.
Although many will see the omission as the end of Watson’s test career, it should not be forgotten that his one-day career was similarly consigned to history after he was dropped at the World Cup earlier this year.
Watson, however, was recalled and played in the final triumph against New Zealand in Melbourne.
Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen said on Tuesday he thought Watson had become a convenient scapegoat and that Australia should look more to the batting failures of Steve Smith and Haddin.
“Every time the Australians get beaten, it’s always Shane Watson who takes the heat and surprise, surprise, this time it’s no different,” Pietersen said.
“Let’s make no bones about it, he’s got to stop getting out lbw and start scoring some big runs, no-one is un-droppable after all, but he’s a match winner.”
Australia, who are bidding for a first Ashes series win in England since 2001, also have concerns over the fitness of Mitchell Starc with Peter Siddle on stand-by in case the left-arm quick is unable to play because of an ankle strain. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Greg Stutchbury)