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Watson told to ignore Waugh

By Will Swanton 10/12/2002 04:43:42 PM Comments (0)

Australian one-day cricket captain Ricky Ponting has urged Shane Watson to ignore the hoopla surrounding Steve Waugh in order to nail down the allrounder position in time for next year's World Cup.

But Australian coach John Buchanan claimed the national selectors might not pick any allrounders for the Cup defence in Africa, leaving both Watson and Waugh on the outer.

The push for Waugh to be reinstated to Australia's one-day side has placed enormous pressure on 21-year-old Watson heading into Australia's sell-out opening match of the tri-series against England at the SCG on Friday night.

Test captain Waugh was robbed of a major opportunity to press his claims as an allrounder when Tuesday's game between NSW and Australia was washed out without a ball being bowled - by him or anybody else.

Asked if Watson felt under extra pressure because of the growing public support for 37-year-old Waugh, Ponting said: "I haven't spoken to him about it but I wouldn't have thought so. If he starts thinking about things other than his own game then he will start to struggle.

"We've all been there and done that before, where we've let other little things get to us. I wouldn't think it would be bothering him too much.

"I think he's improving and he'll keep improving."

Watson's 15 games for Australia since his debut in March have produced 202 runs at 33.66 and eight wickets at 46.25.

His ING Cup returns from four appearances this season have been a disappointing 57 runs at 14.25 and five wickets at 31.21.

Time is running out for him. The World Cup will not be the place to experiment with an unproven player.

"He's the sort of guy that if he's not happy with things, he'll stay in the nets to the end like he did today, working on his throwing," Ponting said after Australian training at the SCG.

"The more cricket he plays at this level the more he'll learn and the more he'll keep improving so let's just hope he does that through this series."

The big wet in Sydney means Waugh's next match isn't likely to be until December 19 when NSW plays Victoria in the Pura Cup.

Then follows the Boxing Day Test, after which the 15 players for the World Cup will be announced.

"Selectors are not going to pick an allrounder just for the sake of it," Buchanan said on Melbourne radio station Sport927.

"At this stage we are short of that quality allrounder and I'm not sure it will surface between now and when the final squad is announced at the end of this month.

"Possibly the selectors will consider a player who can fill a number of roles but that does not mean he is a genuine allrounder."

Ponting played it coy on the subject of Waugh and defended the right of chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns to hide the reasons for Waugh's omission from the public.

"I'm sure Steve's disappointed - as he's made clear over the last few days - that he's been left out of it (the 30-man squad)," said Ponting.

"It's not for me to comment - that's what the selectors are there for. They've obviously told Stephen the reasons why. They haven't told the public the reasons why but I don't think they really have to do that either.

"They're making very big decisions and sometimes they don't have to justify to every Australian person why they've made some of those decisions.

"I don't really understand the outcry, why the public needs to know all those finer details of it."

Hohns told Ponting during the third Ashes Test in Perth that Waugh was being left off the 30-man roster and Ponting expects to have no input when the final decision is made.

"It's been made clear over the last couple of years that the captain is just the captain now, he has no say in the outright selection of the sides," Ponting said.

"I'll probably be consulted about it and what I think about certain players and certain ideas the selectors might have, but at the end of the day they'll be the guys that make the big decisions."

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