Cricket: Players In Focus: Michael Clarke and Shane Watson


Michael Clarke batting Boxing Day 2010 (photo mine)

Australia has had some classy players during its last decade of cricket.  Batters, bowlers, fielders, wicket keepers: the country and the world has seen them all.

Since Ricky Ponting stood down as test and one day captain, the Australian team has had a makeover. And so far, it’s going well.  Even with the somewhat constant changing and rotation of players, we’ve unearthed some amazing talent.  But we’ve also retained a fantastic bunch of veterans and experienced players.

Two excellent examples are current Australian Captain Michael Clarke and blazing all-rounder Shane Watson.  Since 2004, Clarke has been textbook and aggressive, but never flamboyant.  He is however, beautiful and fluid to watch at the crease.  Watson is naturally aggressive and dynamic, extremely capable of destroying almost any bowling attack.  His bowling (where he can deliver at speeds of 135kph) is impressive given his position as an opening/top order batsman.

With Clarke and Watson now aged 31, it is absolutely critical that 1) Watson can stay relatively injury-free and 2) Clarke is able to lead the Australian team to further success,  and he has the base to do it.  With an ever-increasing match load during the calendar year,  vice-captain Watson now needs to sustain a consistent fitness, as well as ensuring he is in form.

Shane Watson during the 2010 Ashes Series (photo mine)

Clarke’s 6000+ test runs at an average of almost 49 testifies just how good his career has been.  Of course, Clarke has had his fair share of blues.  He had a century-less patch between January 2010 and August 2011, but responded with a score of 112 against Sri Lanka in Colombo.   His 329 against India in January this year at the SCG was a masterclass of stroke play, endurance and skill.

So where to from here for these two players?

Watson: It seems the sky is the limit. There is almost nothing he cannot do. Since taking the opening batsman role for tests, one-dayers and Twenty20’s, his career has not only blossomed, it has seen vast improvement.  Watson is now a far cry from the injury-ridden player he once was. Given his workload of both opening batsman and a regular bowler, the Australian team staff must make sure that any buildup of stress or injury is carefully managed.

Clarke: Clarke was primed to be Ricky Ponting’s successor, and he’s taken up the captaincy reins enthusiastically and without hesitation.  His part-time bowling ability is a major asset to the team, and there is absolutely no doubt he can bat!  Clarke has a strong foundation (with the help of selectors and coaches) to build a strong Australian team that will contend with the world-beaters for years to come.

(Stats source: cricket.com.au)

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