Thursday, August 15, 2013

Michael Clarke gives Shane Watson batting tips in nets session

Batting tips: Michael Clarke offers advice to Shane Watson.

Batting tips: Michael Clarke offers advice to Shane Watson. Photo: Getty Images

Michael Clarke has turned instructor as well as batsman and his star pupil is none other than Shane Watson.

In a sight that might have been regarded as extraordinary only a matter of months back the Test captain spent more than 30 minutes at a training session in England's East Midlands schooling his former vice-captain on his technique in an effort to help him avoid being susceptible to lbw dismissals.

Clarke often works closely with the younger batsmen in the Australian squad while completing his own training. But on the eve of a two-day practice match against England Lions at Wantage Road took extended time out to put the microscope on Watson, who was named as stand-in captain for the game.

The pair's relationship has been well documented, and featured as part of Mickey Arthur's claim against Cricket Australia with the Fair Work Commission last month before that case was settled. Documents leaked to Channel Seven revealed that according to the sacked coach Clarke had described Watson and his faction as a "cancer" on the team.


There was a noticeable absence of animosity in the Northants nets, however, with Watson taking in the captain's advice from the other end of the practice wicket where Clarke was stationed at length.

Asked the contents of the mini-lesson, which also involved head coach Darren Lehmann and batting coach Michael Di Venuto, Lehmann said bluntly: "Probably not to get out lbw, I would think", adding: "(Clarke) came a bit early for his session; he just wants to help the young blokes out, which is good."

Watson, of course, does not fit into the definition of one of the 'young blokes'. He is 32, the same age as Clarke. But after being successfully targeted by England's bowlers as a candidate for lbw earlier in the series - and trapped leg-before again in Australia's second innings at Durham - he is keen to avoid being a sitting duck.

And with Clarke boasting nearly three times as many Test centuries as the rest of the Australian team combined, he shapes as a fair teacher.

As for the suggestion of any remaining tension between the captain and his former deputy, Lehmann replied: "I've had no problems with them since I've been here. They've worked really well, they get on well. No dramas from my end."

Di Venuto said the involvement of Clarke on the coaching side was a bonus.

"It's outstanding having it come from the captain," he said. "I know Ricky (Ponting) when he was around the Tasmanian side he did it with the Tassie boys all the time, and I believe with the Australian boys as well. He's someone who has played so much Test cricket and knows what it is like out in the heat of the battle, so he's helping these kids through."

In other news, the bowler who found Watson's pad in the fourth Test, Tim Bresnan, has been ruled out for the rest of the English season with a stress fracture in his lower back.

Bresnan played a key role in England's 74-run win at Durham, scoring a crucial 45 with the bat to lengthen Australia's run chase and backing up to be an important lieutenant to the hosts' main destroyer Stuart Broad as the tourists collapsed in their second innings.

He could be replaced in the fifth and final Test at the Oval next week by Chris Tremlett, Steven Finn or Graham Onions, although Onions himself is recovering from a finger injury.
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