No winners if management and players are not on the same team

SHANE Watson's son Will won't be short of toys.

He could play happily for hours with all the ones his father has been throwing out of his pram.

When Watson says "Everything is OK" it bears all the hallmarks of Corporal Jones saying "Don't panic."

When he says "We've spoken about how we are going to work together to move forward" as he did at Sydney Airport last night, it sounds uncannily like, and about as convincing as, our Prime Minister.

Clearly, everything is not OK. Everything is a long way from OK. Australian cricket does not even register a positive score on a scale of OKness.

At the same time that high-performance chief Pat Howard was saying the four players banned for not doing their homework were not repeat offenders, captain Michael Clarke was revealing the "number of issues" that had led to their detention.

Such contradictory statements do not lend themselves to a sound state of OKhood.

The only thing as twisted as Watson's perspective in this Australian cricket team appears to be Clarke's back.

And if that doesn't straighten up in time for the fourth Test, there could be yet another bizarre occurrence in this series.

The first match saw Australia become the first team in Test history to lose by an innings having declared, the next could see a vice-captain return from a disciplinary suspension to take charge of his country.

This is the player who, while Ed Cowan doggedly churns out authentic Test match innings like five-hour 238-ball knocks of 86, was openly lobbying for his spot.

Some team player.

"Just go round and ask every person that I've played cricket with and that will give you the best indication of whether I'm a team man or not," Watson whined.

Good idea. Try starting with those teammates from his time at Tasmania.

As Watson sulks his way out into the middle of Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on Friday, his two former state sides will be locking horns in Hobart in a contest much more palatable and probably exciting.

It could also be argued that a Tasmanian line-up featuring Ricky Ponting, Alex Doolan, George Bailey, James Faulkner, Tim Paine, Luke Butterworth and Ben Hilfenhaus is considerably more formidable than an Australian one featuring Moises Henriques, Steve Smith, Phil Hughes, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Johnson.

One thing both matches share is watchability. But while the Test match is pure soap opera, the Sheffield Shield final is fairytale stuff.

Anyone following the Shield finale will get a chance to see Ponting attempt to end his domestic silverware drought and retiring coach Tim Coyle sign off at the top.

Anyone tuning in to the fourth Test is like those Targa Tasmania spectators who set up camp by slippery downhill corners just as the over-funded under-talented Subaru Impreza WRX drivers from eastern Asia are due.


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