Shane Watson has received strong backing from teammate David Warner as the all-rounder’s place in Australia’s Test side comes under scrutiny after their loss in Cardiff.
Coach Darren Lehmann has refused to guarantee Watson’s place in the side for the second Test at Lord’s this week and said it would be a ‘tight call’ picking between the former vice-captain and Mitchell Marsh, who clubbed two centuries in warm-up games against Kent and Essex.
But Warner spoke up for his veteran colleague on Monday, pointing out that all the Australian batsmen had struggled in Cardiff and adding that the 169-run loss was a wake-up call for the entire squad.
‘I feel he [Watson] is in a great space at the moment,’ Warner told Sky Sports Radio.
‘These conditions are quite challenging for everyone … he’s going fantastic. He’s doing everything right and the other day from everyone’s standards, we all got ourselves in and didn’t go on with it. It’s as simple as that.
‘I think he’s a great asset to our team and brings a lot of experience to our team as well. This is pretty similar to the game we played in the World Cup against New Zealand [which Australia lost by one wicket].
‘That little kick up the backside, that “hang on, if you want to come here and beat these guys on their own soil, you have to bring your A game”. And I think this has been the kick in the backside that we needed.’
Watson was dismissed leg-before in both innings of Australia’s loss last week, via deliveries from Stuart Broad and Mark Wood for 30 and 19 respectively.
The 34-year-old now has 29 lbw dismissals to his name from his 59-Test career and has passed 50 twice in his past 16 innings.
He was also unable to take a wicket in the 12 overs he was given with the ball in Cardiff.
Marsh is a ready-made replacement 11 years Watson’s junior, but Warner hailed experience and an ability to lead as key attributes the senior all-rounder brings to the team.
‘He brings a lot of experience to the team and helps a lot of the younger players out,’ said Warner.
‘And experienced players as well – I’ve always gone to him and spoken to him about little things in general, about coming into big series, how does he go about things and how you can learn off him.’