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India vs Australia: ‘Strange That First Test is Not in Brisbane’ – Watson Questions Scheduling Tweak

Devadyuti Das |Cricketnext | Updated: December 4, 2018, 11:20 AM IST
India vs Australia: ‘Strange That First Test is Not in Brisbane’ – Watson Questions Scheduling Tweak

(image: AFP)

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Retired Australian all-rounder Shane Watson believes the decision to play the first Test against India in Adelaide, instead of Brisbane where the Australian summer usually begins, will be a disadvantage for the home team. 37-year old Watson, who played most of his first-class cricket in Queensland, is disappointed that the first Test of the summer has been moved from the “Gabba”, where conditions are known to favour the quick bowlers.

"From my perspective, it's hard to imagine that the first Test of the series is not at Gabba,” Watson told CricketNext from Sharjah where he captained the Sindhis in the T10 League that culminated in Sharjah on Sunday night. “I grew up in Brisbane, so I used to go to the first day of the Test all the time.

“It's strange that the first Test is not in Brisbane because Gabba's pace, bounce and swing against the away team is always an advantage. Adelaide is a bit more placid, there's not much swing and could be much more of a contest."

Watson, who played 59 Tests for Australia, also conceded that the four-Test series was India's best chance to win down under, though he cautioned that even an Australian team missing Steve Smith and David Warner will be hard to beat in home conditions.

"Playing Australia in Australia is very tough but having said that this is India's best chance to win, especially because (Steve) Smith and (David) Warner are missing,” he said. “But India are going to find it really hard to win even with their incredible batting line-up and fast bowling resources being probably the best that they have had in a while coming to Australia.

“Still with the wickets the way they are — the pace and bounce, we are accustomed to playing here as well, so that doesn't make things easy for the Indians."

While the focus of all attention from an Indian point of view has been Virat Kohli, who has been their standout batsman on Test tours this year and has an exceptional record in India, Watson believes the other members of the Indian batting can produce the goods too, while identifying Jasprit Bumrah as the premier bowling threat for Australia.

"I have seen the other batsmen a lot, played against them in IPL,” he said. “KL Rahul for one has some good memories of Australia, after his century on the last tour. Rishabh Pant is incredibly talented, it'll be interesting to see how he goes, because I have not seen him bat outside India. Their batting is strong even with Virat out of the equation.

"India's fast bowling resources are equally strong as well. (Jasprit) Bumrah has good speed and is a little bit different with his angle. He is not your typical outswing bowler, provides bit more all-roundness to the bowling."

Asked how Australian cricket will deal with the crisis of identity after the 'Sandpapergate', Watson said, "There has been a lot of soul searching after the episode, not just in the team but also across the board in CA (Cricket Australia) as well. It's going to take a bit of time to set new foundations in place and get things in order and regroup, hopefully it won't take too long. For now, it's going to be just trying to find your feet and people performing their best with backs against the walls."

Watson, who has been playing franchise cricket around the world since his international retirement in 2016, also reflected on his experience of playing in the most curtailed of all formats after the second season of the T10 league wound up.

"It is just a concentrated version,” he said. “From a bowling point of view, it is just defence from ball one, in T20 you have got a bit more chance to try and attack. From batting point of view, you only have a couple of balls to get your eye in. Some of the guys are going flat-out from ball one, just a different mind-set. It is much more severe on the bowlers — going for 13 an over in the course of 10 overs, it's a big challenge on smaller grounds."
First Published: December 4, 2018, 7:37 AM IST
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