With dipping form, Shane Watson feels the heat

  • Sai Prasad Mohapatra, Hindustan Times, Sydney
  • Updated: Jan 04, 2015 05:42 IST

Rated as Australia's most valuable all-round talent at one point, Shane Watson's international career is uncertain. If it was his attitude that was questioned during the India tour last year, fitness and form have left him struggling now. Even with injuries and a side in transition, Watson is facing questions over his place in the playing eleven.

His four Test centuries and 71 wickets don't reflect his ability with the bat or ball. But at 33, Watson knows time is not his ally. He has managed a single fifty in this series, aggregating 141 runs in six innings, at a mere 23.5. His last century came 12 innings ago.

On Saturday, Watson admitted the pressure to perform. "I feel I'm under pressure when I'm not scoring runs, not performing. The thing I think about the most is being able to contribute to the team, not whether I'm playing or not. I do really want to be there to be able to contribute with bat and ball."

On the India tour, Watson, despite being suspended for the third Test over attitude issues in what is known as the "Homework" episode, still returned to captain in the fourth Test. His fallen status is evident from the fact that young Steve Smith was made captain after Michael Clarke's injury and Brad Haddin remained his deputy.

"Growing up all I wanted to do was be the best cricketer I possibly could be, but there are positives and negatives in that," Watson said.

"It always drives me to want to continue to get better. But on the flipside, it means I can put too much pressure on myself. I'm always trying to find that perfect balance where I've got freedom in my mind when I go out to bat but I'm also very well prepared and confident I'm going to do well."

A critic of the South African Mickey Arthur, Watson has warmed up to Darren Lehmann since he came on board.

Harris blames pitches

Pace bowler Ryan Harris was Man of the Match at Melbourne, but he complained on Saturday that pitches have been too batsmen-friendly. India have scored 400 plus in their first innings in each Test and their batsmen have not been shaken even by Mitchell Johnson.

"I don't think the wickets have been as fast and bouncy. We've got results in two of the Tests, but as a bowling group we are always going to say we want a bit more bounce and grass. That goes without saying," Harris told reporters.

"That is what we had last year and that is where he (Johnson) excelled. Last year, (Johnson) was able to do that because of what Siddle and I were doing, but also due to the pace in the wickets. Not having that is a bit frustrating.

"Test cricket is always going to be hard - I am not saying we should get ridiculous bouncy wickets. But we go to India and get absolute shockers over there, so it would be nice to get some green tops over here."

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