In today’s connected world of 24/7 television coverage, social media and keyboard warriors, it is easy to be swept away in a tide of rabid hubris.
Take for example:
A throwaway line penned during the 2013 Ashes.
One, that at the time, was meant to challenge Wasim Akram’s assertion that he was the best bowler in the world. I systematically built a case to support the stance, continuing to leverage off the “Overratedson” term and happily defended it.
It took hold. It spread.
Some took heed in the message it was intended to purvey. Others, the squeakier wheels, used it as just another way to add to the Ashes banter.
But it stuck.
Proof, that with the right platform, it is possible to grab a percentage of the masses and direct them onto whatever bandwagon you like.
This is nothing more than an observation on human nature. Many of us like to be led. We grab hold of a cause that appeals to us and run with it.
Shane Watson is the current victim to bandwagoning at the moment.
For multiple reasons, the Australian public has chosen to direct their derision and frustration at this highly talented player.
It could be because of his stature? He is a man mountain. A brick shithouse. A lump of a lad.
In the Aussie psyche, he should dominate. Men that look like him are Alpha males. Bogan Australia respects the macho. Most of Australia is bogan.
We have seen Watson own the white ball game. Why can’t he do it in the red ball game?
It frustrates us.
It could be due to his injury prone nature?
Oh dear, there goes that calf again.
It could be due to his propensity for being dismissed LBW.
Over 26% of the time. A larger percentage that any other Australian Test batsman in history.
But the LBW is normally paired with a DRS referral. I can’t recall the last time Watson had one overturned. Has it ever actually happened?
His captain once referred to him as ‘cancer’. He is not very good at homework. In 2012, he publicly declared his desire to open the batting, a combative stance against the incumbent Ed Cowan. We didn’t like that.
Is it his reaction when getting out?
The slumped, shaking head. The ‘why me’ puppy dog eyes.
But none of these are a good enough reason to drop Shane Watson from the Test side.
England have entered the 2015 home Ashes series with two all-rounders.
Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali
Neither has a better Test batting average better than Shane Watson.
Ali has a better bowling average by the slimmest margin of 0.45.
Yet, the impartial judge would choose both Englishmen ahead of Watson.
Why is this?
Mitchell Marsh has scored two hundreds in the lead up games to the 1st Test. He has also taken a few wickets.
Watson has done neither. In fact, he didn’t even bowl in the first match.
His reputed ability to tie up an end and create value is missing.
Behind Watson and Mitch Marsh, pressure for the number six spot comes from James Faulkner, Moises Henriques and Glenn Maxwell.
Australia has plenty of good quality all rounder options.
Yet, the selectors stick with their man.
Are they afraid they will weaken the slips cordon if he goes?
All of these data points suggest that Watson is better out of the side than in.
However, none in isolation mount a strong case.
Instead, it is the broader view that seals Watson’s fate.
The reality is that he no longer is a match winner. He cannot turn a game. He is not an impact player.
His kryptonite has gotten the better of him.
He is weak. He is floundering. The opposition don’t fear him. It may even flow into a lack of respect in some circles.
The side’s all-rounder must have the ability to turn the course of a match. Either with bat or ball.
Stokes can do it. So can Mooen.
One gets the feeling this Ashes series will be won or lost by moments.
Haddin dropping Root. An umpires call. A Warner 4th innings hundred.
Unfortunately, Watson can no longer serve us up game changing moments.
This is why he needs to go.