Two New South Wales cricketers who have found reasonable success in Indian conditions, particularly in the shortest format, harbour no illusions about the difficulty involved in coming up trumps on wickets that have tripped up many a touring party.
In different stages of their careers they may be, but Shane Watson and Mitchell Starc are bound by the common goal of an Australian triumph and a fierce desire to compete.
During a media interaction on Tuesday, Watson acknowledged that he had a big role to play.
“Michael [Clarke] and I are the senior players; we’ve played the most cricket here. We certainly have to help out the young guys,” Watson said.
The 31-year-old also indicated he was likely to bat at No. 4. “If everyone is fit, then yes, that’s the way the selection is likely to go. Considering everything that’s happened over the last 12 months, I can see why they might want to go that way. In the end, I’ve got as much experience batting in these conditions, whether in the middle-order or at the top.”
With Watson and his wife expecting their first child at the end of March, he was asked if it was a distraction. “Possibly, but nothing has been confirmed yet. If she has the baby early, then there will be less chance of me seeing the birth. We’ll just go with the flow and see how it works,” he said. “For me, it’s not that my mind’s at home. If we have success in India, it will be as big a success as I have had with the Australian team.”
The burly all-rounder, who will not bowl in the series, reiterated that he merited a place in the side as a pure batsman. “A lot has been said over the last six months about whether I warrant a position as a batsman. I am trying to prove to the selectors and to other people that I am one of the top six batsmen in Australia and my bowling is just a bonus.”
Later, Starc underscored the importance of building “bowling partnerships.”
“India is a place where there isn’t going to be much assistance for any of the fast bowlers. It’s all about mixing it up and being patient. There will be reverse swing happening. It’s going to be hot in Chennai. [But] we’ve played in the UAE and this is going to be pretty much a breeze compared to Dubai,” he said.
The left-arm paceman hailed the contribution of Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson. “Peter is someone who gives 110 per cent every time he plays. So, to have him and Mitch, who is bowling really fast, around is great,” said Starc.
Starc, 23, had a feel of the Chennai wicket during the Champions League in 2010. “That tour, I obviously spent a lot of time in Chennai, so it’s good to be back. It’s going to be different this time around but it was a great experience,” he said.
“Over the last two years, I think I have improved a lot, and I still have a long way to go.”He also stated his intent to borrow a few tricks from the English side that won in India last year. “I enjoyed how they used the reverse swing and that’s something we are going to have to do. I think reverse swing bowling will be crucial along with spin,” he said.