Ponting tells Watson to ignore Steve Waughs claims

Published: Tuesday, December 10, 2002, 19:56 [IST]
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Sydney: Australian captain Ricky Ponting on Tuesday urged Shane Watson to ignore the commotion surrounding Steve Waugh so he can nail down the all-rounder position on time for next year's World Cup.

But Australian coach John Buchanan said the national selectors might not pick any all-rounders for the Cup defence in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya leaving Watson and Waugh out of the picture. The push for Waugh to be reinstated in Australia's one-day side has placed pressure on the 21-year-old Tasmanian heading into Australia's opening match of the triangular One-day series against England at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday.

Test captain Waugh lost a big opportunity to press his claims as an all-rounder when Tuesday's warm-up game between New South Wales and Australia here was washed out without a ball being bowled. Asked if Watson felt under added pressure because of the public support for 37-year- old Waugh, Ponting said, "I haven't spoken to him about it but I wouldn't have thought so. If he starts thinking about things other than his own game then he will start to struggle.

"We've all been there and done that before, where we've let other little things get to us. I wouldn't think it would be bothering him too much. I think he's improving and he'll keep improving." Watson's 15 games for Australia since his debut in March have produced 202 runs at 33.66 and eight wickets at 46.25. Time is running out for Watson. "He's the sort of guy that if he's not happy with things, he'll stay in the nets to the end like he did today, working on his throwing," Ponting said after Australian training at the SCG. "The more cricket he plays at this level the more he'll learn and the more he'll keep improving so let's just hope he does that through this series."

Substantial rain in Sydney for the first time in months means Waugh's next match is not likely to be until December 19 when New South Wales (NSW) plays Victoria in the Sheffield Shield. Then follows the Boxing Day Test, after which the 15 players for the World Cup will be announced. "Selectors are not going to pick an all-rounder just for the sake of it," Buchanan said on Melbourne radio on Tuesday.

"At this stage we are short of that quality all-rounder and I'm not sure it will surface between now and when the final squad is announced at the end of this month. "Possibly the selectors will consider a player who can fill a number of roles but that does not mean he is a genuine all-rounder."

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