Australia’s Shane Watson shrugged off bouncer taunts from England fast bowler Mark Wood and retaliated by issuing his own Ashes warning to the Durham quick on Monday.
With just over a week until the first Test starts in Cardiff, Wood, in a BBC radio interview broadcast on Sunday, recalled how he was instructed to bowl bouncers at Watson by the all-rounder’s then Australia teammate Michael Hussey during a net session on the 2009 tour of England.
The Durham paceman, who took nine wickets in the recent two-Test series against New Zealand after making his debut at Lord’s, said Watson had dismissively labelled him a “net hero” and said he “would love to have a go at me”.
Wood, set to feature in England’s side at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens when the first Test gets underway on July 8, added: “Well, he’s got his chance now. Let’s hope he remembers because he is going to get a few more bumpers.”
For the 34-year-old Watson it was all ancient history.
“Up until this morning I couldn’t remember it all,” Watson said. “It was quite some time ago and I’ve had quite a few net sessions since then. So it’s not something that really stands out.
“I’ve seen what he (Wood) has been able to do against New Zealand and how he bowls. If I manage to score a few runs in this next tour match with Essex, he might have the chance to have another go at me in the Tests.
“It will be interesting to see how he bats because we have a couple of guys who bowl at decent pace as well who bowl fast bouncers!
“He’s obviously got a lot of confidence and is sure about himself. If he’s talking about all this stuff it means he is certainly up for the challenge. He hasn’t been involved in an Ashes series before so he will be tested like we all are.”
Watson must earn the right to face England in Cardiff. He proved his form with the bat in the warm-up 255-run win over Kent in Canterbury but did not bowl because of soreness and so allowed Mitchell Marsh to steal a march on him in the battle for the seam-bowling all-rounder spot.
Watson, though, does expect to bowl in Australia’s final warm-up match before the first Test, a four-day fixture against Essex in Chelmsford starting on Wednesday.
“I aim to bowl a good 12 or 15-over stint against Essex,” he said. “Having a rest from bowling in the first game allowed my body to regenerate but I know how important my bowling is to give myself the best chance of being picked for Cardiff.”