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Former Test star Mark Waugh has claimed Australian cricketer Shane Watson is 'not the same anymore' with his hopelessly out of form cricketing skills, as pressure builds on captain Michael Clarke to leapfrog the allrounder in Australia's newly-constructed batting order.
Installed as Ricky Ponting's successor in the crucial No 4 slot, Watson's batting struggles are reaching worrying levels after he suffered twin failures of 30 and 5 in Australia's first-Test defeat of Sri Lanka in Hobart.
He has now gone 32 Test innings without a century and has failed to post a Test ton since being elevated to the vice-captaincy following Ponting's resignation 20 months ago, prompting Waugh, a veteran of 128 Tests, to point out the out-of-sorts Aussie desperately needs a confidence-boosting innings - starting in the second Test on Boxing Day, News.com.au reports.
"He looks completely out of touch," said Waugh, who blasted 6662 Test runs at 42.43 batting at second drop for Australia.
"Shane Watson is not the same batsman he was six months ago," Waugh said. "He is just really feeling for the ball, his footwork ... he is taking a really big stride, he just doesn't look comfortable at the crease. He needs an innings to get him going," he said.
"Michael Clarke, ideally, should be batting four but (whether Watson bats) four or five, I don't think there's much difference. He needs a big innings to get his confidence back, because at the moment he has no fluency at all in his batting," he concluded.
Since the start of the 2011 calendar year, Watson has managed 528 runs with the bat from 11 Tests at an average of 25.14, the paper said.
The 31-year-old underlined his value with the ball against the Sri Lankans, bowling a staggering 47.4 overs across two innings in Hobart - his greatest workload in a single match in his decade-long international career, the paper added.