Luke Wright vs Shane Watson

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Verdict: Luke Wright is the Shit Shane Watson

That’s what I tweeted yesterday when Luke Wright idiotically played across the line to a straight one from Shakib Al Hasan and was bowled in England’s nail-biting run chase against Bangladesh. Was I being fair? Well, with Eoin Morgan going great guns at the other end all Wright had to do was stay in and farm the strike and England would have won reasonably comfortably.

The similarity between the two is not just because they share a passing resemblance and dreadful hair. Like Watson before 2009, Wright has been given a lot of latitude by his country’s selectors with his actual performances not justifying his continued inclusion in the England T20 and ODI sides. His stats suggest that he is neither good enough with bat or ball to warrant what seems to have become an automatic place.

Let’s look at those stats. In ODIs he averages 21.75 with the bat and 46.36 with the ball. Whilst in T20I, it is 14.87 and 42.80 respectively. Given that he has played 30 ODIs and 18 T20Is, most people would argue that he has had enough opportunities. These stats are similar to his domestic limited overs averages, so should hardly cause a massive surprise. As such I was dumbfounded when he was elevated to the test squad for the South African tour and bemused when Flower and Strauss started talking up his chances of making the test XI, which fortunately he didn’t on that occasion.

Watson of course (much to the chagrin of this writer, who has taken an unfathomable dislike to the Aussie all-rounder), has lately repaid the faith shown in him by the Australian selectors (who now look like wise sages) and has shone in all forms of the game as a hardhitting opener. This seems to have given him the confidence with the ball where he has gone from gun-barrel straight to developing an ability to swing it both conventionally and reverse. His renaissance was confirmed with the recent award of the Allan Border medal as Australia’s outstanding performer of 2009.

To be fair to Watson his level of performance has increased in line with his fitness. Prior to the Edgbaston test last year, Watson’s injury record was so bad it made Andrew Flintoff’s look minor in comparison – one would have thought he was actually made of glass. Wright does not have that excuse as he has remained pretty much injury free, so I feel I am justified in labelling him the shit Shane Watson.

Can Wright emulate Watson, and go from an underperforming wastrel into an international class all-rounder in tests, ODIs and T20? Only time will tell, but this writer will join Shahid Afridi for a sumptuous feast of cricket balls if he does.

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