Shane Watson confronts World Cup ‘crunch time’

In the midst of Australia’s thumping 111-run opening pool win over England in Melbourne, all-rounder Watson was dismissed by paceman Stuart Broad for a golden duck.

While it was generally acknowledged he had received a good delivery, his exit reignited the long-running debate about Watson’s worth to Australia, with many observers contending he is not a good enough batsman or bowler to hold down a place in the side.

The 33-year-old’s cause was not helped when Australia’s second Pool A game against Brisbane last weekend was washed out without a ball bowled and Watson’s World Cup could now depend on how he performs against New Zealand at Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday – if selected.

Disappointing

“It’s crunch time for me to score runs in general,” Watson said Wednesday, when asked if he needed a score to keep his place in the side. It was disappointing not to get through that first ball,” said Watson of his Melbourne dismissal.

“But it’s important for me to score runs anytime. It’s up to the selectors in the end, whether they see fit for me to play,” he added.

“I have been involved in a number of World Cups and I know what to expect. But I’m doing everything I possibly can. I just want to score runs and I know it doesn’t always go exactly to plan as well.”

Prior to the World Cup, Watson scored 81 in the Sydney Test against India last month before a run of modest one-day contributions –16, 41, 22 and 34 prior to his Melbourne duck.

Watson’s last five matches for Australia have yielded just one wicket – against the United Arab Emirates in a World Cup warm-up – and his place would appear to be under threat once fellow all-rounder James Faulkner regains full fitness.

Faulkner was seen bowling in the Australian nets on Wednesday but is not expected to play on Saturday. Watson has 435 runs, including four fifties, in 16 World Cup games at an average of more than 54.

Asked if he felt under pressure, Watson replied: “I just want to score runs and I want to perform. That’s really what it is. That’s what I’m working extremely hard on.

“I do feel it’s coming along well, I just haven’t scored runs. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a game against Bangladesh.” He added: “I actually feel like I’m hitting the ball well. I just need to give myself a chance to get in some innings and get things rolling.”

Meanwhile Watson said Australia were excited about a clash with title rivals New Zealand that has been billed as a potential dress rehearsal for the March 29 final in Melbourne.

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