Matthews backs selectors' call to omit injured star from Test team
Greg Mathews. Photo: Jonathan Carroll
Shane Watson hasn't scored enough runs to be a specialist batsman and the Australian star shouldn't be granted special dispensation to play only part of a Sheffield Shield match in Canberra, former Test cricketer Greg Matthews says.
Manuka Oval is looming as the likely comeback venue for Watson after he was left out of the Australian side for the second Test against South Africa, which begins in Adelaide on Thursday.
Despite being one of the team's best performers in recent years, Watson was ruled out because he couldn't fulfil his bowling duties as an all-rounder.
It means the door is open for Watson and fast bowler Mitchell Starc to play for NSW against Queensland at Manuka from November 27-30.
A decision will be made on Thursday on whether they will travel to the capital for the shield match.
The duo would likely only be available for part of the clash, with the third Test to be played in Perth from November 30.
Cricket Australia has allowed Test players to rotate in and out of shield games to gain match fitness in the past. But Matthews - who will play for the ACA Masters at Manuka Oval on Saturday - said selectors should not allow Watson to play if he cannot complete the shield match.
''Of course we want Australian cricket going great and we do have the best first-class competition in the world,'' Matthews said.
''But you have to be respectful of your little brother and make sure the integrity of the shield competition is not compromised by players coming and going in games.
''I didn't think it was a good thing when I was playing and I don't like the idea now.''
Cricket ACT remains hopeful Watson will play some part in the match to bolster the playing ranks and attract a crowd.
Former Test wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and a host of players on the fringe of Australian selection will also be in action.
Watson has been battling a calf injury and didn't play in the opening Test of the summer.
He had hoped to make a return in Adelaide as a batsman but the selectors opted against adding him to the side because he was unable to bowl.
In his 35 Tests, Watson has scored just two centuries and averages 37.55.
With those statistics, Matthews - who played 33 Tests for Australia as an all-rounder - said Watson didn't have the runs to be classified as a specialist batsman.
''The team's functioning pretty well without him,'' Matthews said.
''There's no doubt the guy is a super talent but he's going to have to fight hard to get his spot back.
''If a batsman played 35 Tests and scored two centuries, you'd be thinking you want more out of him. The important thing [for Watson] is he knows what's required of him and that's getting fit and bowling.
''Every batsman needs to get hundreds, in the past you needed truckloads just for an opportunity. It's simple, if you don't get runs, you don't get picked.''
Matthews will be part of the ACA Masters team, which includes Craig McDermott, Darren Lehmann and Peter Sleep, and will play against a World Defence XI on Saturday.
The World Defence XI will be made up of the best players from the eight international defence teams, which have been playing in Canberra for the past week.
Matthews, 52, said the former stars still had a competitive edge and wanted to win.
''This game against the defence guys is close to my heart and I enjoy it immensely, especially hearing about their stories,'' Matthews said.
''We've got eight or nine internationals and we're playing a bit harder. We won't be taking a backward step.
''Craig McDermott was zinging them through and stumps were flying everywhere. You've got to get the balance right, Craig doesn't want to hurt anyone but he wants them to know he's still alive.
''The minds are willing, but the bodies aren't quite as strong.''
ACA Masters v World Defence XI at Manuka Oval, 12pm. A coaching clinic will be held before the game.