Will two Allan Border Medals silence Watson’s critics?

Monday, February 7, 2011 Posted by the sportsloop team

Looking at the 2010 figures, Shane Watson deserves to be favourite for tonight’s Allan Border Medal. He certainly benefits from having an injury free year, and while others may out perform him in tests or one-day internationals, his role in both forms, with bat and ball, gives him a distinct edge.
In a lean year for Australian’s batting in tests, Watson is second in runs scored to Mike Hussey. Ricky Ponting is the only other Australian to score over 800 runs. In terms of centuries, Hussey (3) Simon Katich, Michael Clarke and Marcus North (all 2) scored more than Watson's one, which could count for higher points in individual tests, but in terms of consistency, and scores above 50, Watson edges his rivals with 9 scores above 50, to Hussey’s 8 and Katich’s 7. In a team without much to cheer about in terms of batting, Watson would likely have picked up a few votes without necessarily being man of the match. Australia’s single test in 2011 saw Watson score the most runs.
In test match bowling, Watson comes in fifth in wickets taken, behind Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger, Nathan Hauritz  and Ryan Harris. If simply a bowler, Watson probably wouldn’t hold a place in the team. However, add a few wickets to his frequent runs, and the likelihood of picking up votes increases. Johnson picked up three 5 wicket hauls, and the only Australian 10 wicket match, with Watson and Siddle the only others to get five-for twice. These statistics paint a lean year for bowlers, so with Johnson perhaps getting a few man of the match awards, Watson would also be in with a chance.
For test player of the year, Watson’s consistent performance of 50-odd runs and a few wickets, would set him to be with a good chance, with Hussey and Johnson the other leading candidates. Even a second or third placing for Watson would contribute to his Allan Border chances.
In one day international runs scored, Watson comes in at equal fourth with Ricky Ponting, behind Cameron White and Mike Hussey , and 7 runs behind Michael Clarke. In 2011, Watson outscored David Hussey by 70 runs to be the top run scorer.
In bowling, Watson is again fourth, behind Ryan Harris, Bollinger, and Clint McKay. It would seem White and Harris are likely to be 1 and 2 on the voting, but Watson would pick up a few votes along the way. This year, Brett Lee, Steve Smith, Bollinger, and David Hussey have taken more wickets.
Watson again comes in fourth in 2010  T20 runs scored, but is down the list in wickets taken, behind Dirk Nannes, Shaun Tait, Johnson, Smith and David Hussey. Watson’s impact in all forms of the games, and sheer number of games played, will favour him over others for the AB Medal, such as White or Nannes who don’t play each form.
Over tests and one-day internationals, Mike Hussey seems to be the best placed person to stop Watson’s back-to-back awards. If Watson was purely a batsman, you would think Hussey would beat him, but the benefit of being able to bowl, should see Watson pick up the prize. Mitchell Johnson’s limited impact in one day internationals (18 wickets) will count against him in the overall vote. I predict Watson, Hussey, Johnson, and Ryan Harris as the top vote earners in tonight’s count.
You would think a second Allan Border Medal for Watson would silence some of his critics. There was a lot made of Watson returning to the team as an opener, with other specialist openers not given the chance, or in some cases, another chance. Mike Hussey was chosen as a middle order batsman, despite being an opener for his state. It would seem that while batsmen have a preference for certain positions, a test-level batsman is able to perform wherever he is picked. Sure Watson doesn’t convert his half-centuries, which is a concern, but at least he is making them, and regularly. His contribution with the ball adds to his value in the team. Until other batsman are consistently scoring similar numbers of half-centuries, or centuries, Watson shouldn’t be the brunt of so much concern or criticism. There are still detractors, and there may always be, but two Allan Border Medals should keep them silent for a while to come.

Test Runs:
M. Hussey 967
Watson 897
Ponting 813

Test Wickets:
Johnson 40
Bollinger 30
Hauritz 22
Harris 20
Watson 19

One Day Runs:
White 848
Hussey 825
Clarke 778
Ponting 771
Watson 771

One Day Wickets:
Harris 40
Bollinger 28
McKay 27
Watson 22


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