So, Shane Watson has decided he’s an all-rounder again. This simple move, this miracle of modern medicine, this testimony to the much-maligned sports scientists who have been slaving away in white labcoats, carrying clipboards and the burden of injured athletes' careers in each hand simultaneously, this GODDAMN MIRACLE, has solved such a multitude of problems for Australia that I swear I just saw Michael Clarke remove his wife from that horse that she’s been stuck on since their wedding photos and spin her around with glee.
Except something is amiss. Kyly Clarke is still on that horse, Ed Cowan is still unsure of his opening spot, and the search for an all-rounder continues. A search that doesn’t seem to stretch further than calling my doppelganger Steve Smith and convincing him he’s still got Test Match potential.
The reason for Shane Watson’s mind-boggling, science-defying, teammate-confusing recovery from his debilitating injuries? The IPL auction is tomorrow. It’s strange what 1.5million dead presidents for 6 week's work will do to a man’s willingness to injure himself for the team that bids the most.
The IPL will probably feature the most Australians it ever has this year. Mainstays Hodge, White, and Warner will be there. Clarke will probably cash in. Mike Hussey will swat every ball with a ferocious ‘do you see this, DO YOU SEE THIS CRICKET, AUSTRALIA?!’ of a bullied nerd flexing his puny arms in the mirror and imagining his ultimate comeuppance towards his more muscular tormenters. My two favourite injury-prone fast bowlers, James Pattinson and Ryan Harris, will cash in on their limitless gifts. Mitchell Starc, showing maturity beyond his years, has opted out of earning $800k to focus on training. Impressive for a 22 year old who isn’t even guaranteed a starting spot in the test team. Although it didn’t help Ravi Bopara.
The Indian test series and subsequent IPL will determine the final 16 to get on the plane to England, and that is more via the injury lottery than form. Although, the old style playing squad is really a thing of the past. It doesn’t take 6 weeks by boat to the UK anymore, so a replacement/reinforcement can arrive in 24 hours.
However due to the glut of bowling talent in Australia at the moment, you can expect the counties will already have conditional agreements with a few Australian fast bowlers. This will strengthen counties and also the non-selected bowlers' chances of playing in The Ashes, who will be looking for the ‘right place, right time’ selection in case of injury. Or, ‘The Shaun Young’, as it’s known in the industry. Rob Quiney (who played way back in November 2012) has already signed for Essex, you’d imagine with something similar in mind.
The bowling looks strong. The batting, however, looks like it’ll need Shane Watson to miraculously discover that he can bat before it’ll install any semblance of confidence.