Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 23rd 2013 Contents A59
Tuesday, July 23, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Allan Border, the former Aus-
tralia captain, has spoken of his
bewilderment at how the vastly
talented allrounder Shane Watson
is skating desperately close to a
failed career, in a Test match team
where the bowlers looked more
capable of batting time than the
Having experienced the enor-
mous pain of Australian cricket s
troubled times during the 1980s,
Border paralleled the current team s
lack of performance and good for-
tune with the teams he led so
valiantly three decades ago.
A horrid defeat by 347 runs at
Lord s handed Australia their sixth
Test match loss in a row, a streak
not seen since 1984, when Border
inherited the captaincy from a tear-
ful Kim Hughes.
Seldom known for expressing
opinions that are any less than
guarded, Border was particularly
frank in his assessment of the bat-
ting he saw at Lord s over the past
"Our major concern right now
is the performance of the top six.
I could honestly say the nine, ten
and jack looked more competent
than our one, two and three," Bor-
der wrote for Cricket Australia.
"If that was me in the top three
I d be embarrassed. We need to
settle on our best 11 and stay with
it. I m a believer in the pick and
stick method, so we need to find
our best 11 suited to the conditions
and stick with it."
Whether or not that best XI
includes Watson is a matter of
increasing debate, given the fre-
quency with which he is getting
out for infuriatingly handy scores,
and now also falling in a remarkably
similar manner in each innings.
After watching Watson fall lbw
for the third time in four turns at
the crease this series, Border said
he could not fathom how a player
this talented could keep making
the same mistakes.
"We all know what a wonderful
player Shane Watson is. He looks
like a million bucks when he s fir-
"What is worrying though is
that he keeps getting out in the
same fashion. Now who is to blame
here? Is it Watson for not adapt-
ing? What about the coaches?"
"In an era where we ve got a
thousand coaches and psychoan-
alysts and dieticians and sport sci-
entists it defies belief that a player
can be making the same mistakes.
Whether it is a technical thing or
a mental thing I don t know.
"Is Shane not listening, or are
people saying bad luck, you got a
good one? We need to find out
what the best is for Shane. Is it
opening the batting? Or maybe
batting at six and making him a
genuine allrounder? Whatever it is
we need to find out soon or Shane s
time will have come and gone and
we won t have seen the best of
him. The buck stops with Shane
and he needs to figure it quickly
because it will be a real shame if
he doesn t fulfil his potential."
Australia s coach Darren
Lehmann has said that Watson is
well aware of the technical prob-
lems revolving around the promi-
nence of his front pad, and credited
England s bowlers, most recently
James Anderson, for repeatedly
finding it. (ESPNcricinfo)
Graham Gooch has spelled out
something that no one at Cricket
Australia is prepared to publicly
say---Twenty20 is "chipping
away" at the skills required of
Test batsmen, and Gooch, Eng-
land s batting coach, works every
day to ensure his men are not
eroded as Australia s have been.
In the aftermath of the Lord s
Test, the England captain, Alastair
Cook, spoke warmly of Gooch, a
figure often derided in Australia
for his travails during the 1989
Ashes series but an exemplar of
diligence, patience and commit-
ment to the art of run-making.
Joe Root s pivotal 180 after Aus-
tralia s batsmen had surrendered
their first innings for a paltry 128
was a 21st century facsimile of
many a Gooch innings, and the
mentor said multiple formats had
made it ever more difficult to foster
such patience among young bats-
"There s three formats of the
game now ... the basis of Test
cricket is that it s a hell of a long
game, five times 90 overs is a long,
long game," Gooch said.
"So it s about skills in batting,
about run-making, about the
whole package of not only having
the technical skills but having the
attitude, the mental toughness,
the discipline, and the concentra-
"Anyone can concentrate for 15-
20 minutes, but to score Test hun-
dreds you have to concentrate for
a long period of time.
"Those skills I think worldwide
are being chipped away at the
edges by the amount of one-day
cricket and T20 cricket.
"If you re a traditionalist and
like Test cricket and think that s
the pinnacle and the benchmark,
you know you can see with the
number of competitions that are
popping up and the rewards that
are available in terms of finance
... the possibility of it chipping
away at the edges of the traditional
game, and that s the same for every
"You ve got to work hard to try
to keep your players on track and
obviously try to educate them as
well as you can on the skills and
the mental skills that are necessary
to bat long. It s a different type of
While it is clear that at the pres-
ent moment England are success-
fully developing batsmen of the
requisite obstinacy and technical
purity to survive for long periods,
Gooch spoke of the need for eternal
vigilance to ensure that the balance
was not lost.
He also mentioned the ability
of the best players to differentiate
between conditions, using the right
"tools" for the variety of surfaces
offered in England, Australia and
"Way after I finish this issue will
still be alive and kicking," Gooch,
who will turn 60 today, said.
"I d hate to think that traditional
skills get eroded and diluted
because the specialist spinner, the
specialist fast bowler, the skills of
the batsmen are, for me, what
make the game so great.
"Playing on a surface like here
[Lord s], or the SCG or Brisbane
or Perth where it bounces.
"A batsman to score runs needs
different skills for different wickets,
and as a batsman and run-maker
you have different tools in the bag,
but you don t take all the tools out
every time you play."
As for the magnitude of Eng-
land s victory, earning the hosts a
2-0 series lead that has only ever
been overhauled once in the history
of all Ashes contests, Gooch said
some of his pupils would not fully
appreciate it until later years.
On the topic of Australia he was
taciturn, but left ample room for
the results to speak for themselves.
"I think we suffered quite a lot
[in the past], I did manage to win
the Ashes three times actually but
I did suffer quite a lot," Gooch said.
"I don t know how some of
them would know the historical
significance, some probably would-
n t. I think mainly they re inter-
ested in winning each match they
come up against.
"Australia are giving it their best,
it s not for me to comment on their
performance, that s down to their
management and their system.
"We try to get our players in
the best possible condition to
Gooch: T20 'chipping
away' at Test skills
Border: Tail better than top three
concentrate for 15-20
minutes, but to score
Test hundreds you
have to concentrate for
a long period of time."
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