Shane Warne is surprised by Shane Watson’s decision to stand down as Australia’s vice-captain considering the looming Ashes series.
SHANE Watson has dropped a bombshell on the Australian cricket team by resigning as vice-captain three months before the Ashes in England.
The fallout from Australia’s 4-0 series rout in India last month continued today when Watson stood down as Michael Clarke’s deputy to focus on addressing his personal form.
Just a month ago, Watson celebrated the high point of his career when a back injury to Clarke saw him ordained as Australia’s 44th Test captain for the fourth Test against India in Delhi.
But a nightmare tour of the sub-continent, where he scored just 99 runs at 16.50, convinced Watson to give up the leadership role in a bid to resurrect his game for the Ashes in July.
The 31-year-old has also quit as deputy of Australia’s one-day and Twenty20 outfits.
Cricket Australia must now choose Clarke’s right-hand man for the five-Test England series.
In a worrying sign of Australia’s leadership options, the candidate is not obvious, with Ed Cowan, Dave Warner and Matt Wade the likely contenders for the position.
“Making the decision to step down wasn’t easy but it’s something I’ve been thinking about since the Test series against India ended,” Watson said today.
“I think it’s the right time for a change for both the team and me. I’ll be honest and admit I wrestled with the decision for some time.
“However, once I made up my mind, I informed Cricket Australia so the selectors could consider their options for the Ashes, given the squads will be announced soon.”
The decision caps a turbulent period for Watson. He was one of four players axed for the third Test in Mohali for failing to take part in a performance review, a decision he criticised before returning to Australia for the birth of his son Will.
Watson returned to India to captain the side, but not before lashing CA high-performance chief Pat Howard, who claimed the deputy had issues to resolve with Clarke ahead of the Ashes.
While Watson and Clarke have repeatedly denied talk of a rift, the pair never quite gelled as a leadership alliance following their appointments in March 2011.
“I want to be the best Test player I can be for Australia, and think I can do that by stepping down from the vice-captaincy to focus my attention on scoring runs, taking wickets and doing whatever is necessary to help the team achieve success,” he said.
“I won’t be the vice-captain in title but I can still be a leader and strong contributor around the group.”