Shane Watson’s Test future is on a knife edge.
England’s bowlers dismissed the enigmatic allrounder lbw for the 29th time of his career in the Ashes opener in Cardiff.
Watson has only passed 50 twice in his past 16 innings and scored one century since his 176 against England at The Oval in 2013, and is under enormous pressure to keep his spot from Mitch Marsh.
A Mark Wood delivery that thumped into his front pad as he again played around a swinging delivery was his undoing in the second innings for a less-than-convincing 19 – the fifth time he had been out lbw in both innings in 59 Tests.
His slow exit from Sophia Gardens after third umpire Chris Gaffaney upheld the decision was that of a man who knew the end was nigh.
The tourists were ultimately crushed by 169 runs.
Skipper Michael Clarke gave his tentative backing to the embattled Queenslander but chief selector Rod Marsh and coach Darren Lehmann could ring the changes for the second Test to bolster a middle order that flopped in the Welsh capital.
“We’ll certainly have a look at the wicket and work out what our best XI is to win in those conditions and, if that means we’ve got to make changes, we’ll make changes,” Lehmann said.
“That won’t be an issue for us.”
Mitch Marsh clubbed centuries in warm-up games against Kent and Essex.
Lehmann confirmed Marsh was “very close” to playing in Cardiff.
“Again it’s going to be a tight call heading into the second Test,” he said.
Watson’s bowling ability earned him the edge for the Ashes opener.
However, he was only used for 12 overs by Clarke, and former skipper Ricky Ponting said the selectors faced a real dilemma before the Lord’s Test starting on Thursday.
“There’s a very big decision that needs to be made there,” Ponting said on Sky Sports.
“The fact Ryan Harris wasn’t here might have aided Shane Watson playing this game.
“Watson hasn’t bowled a lot in this Test.”
England captain Alastair Cook admitted it was a deliberate ploy by his bowlers to target Watson’s pads and they were always confident of getting him out.
“Like all players, he has a weakness,” Cook said.
“But you can’t just go for the stumps. He’s too good a player for that.
“It’s not just about going gun barrel straight but you know, if you put the ball on or around off stump, you might get the outside edge as well.”