Clarke and Watson hardly communicate during training session
In the eye of storm after 'homework-gate', all-rounder Shane Watson was the focus of attention during Australia's training session at the Feroz Shah Kotla today ahead of the fourth and final cricket Test against India starting on Friday.
Peeved at being dropped from the playing XI of the third Test in Mohali after not completing a presentation on team performance, Watson went back home as his wife was due to give birth to their first child.
The 'Proud Dad' was back in action during the training session but what was eminently noticeable was the distinct lack of communication between Watson and captain Michael Clarke during the two and half hour session.
The skipper, who is suffering from back spasms, is a doubtful starter as he didn't take part in the training session but not for once did one find the two having a long chat with each other which normally a captain has with his deputy.
Even during the customary net session, Clarke was having a session with the physio when Watson batted for around 35 minutes facing both pace and spin.
While Watson had a bit of discussion with Mickey Arthur, who instructed the spinners Glenn Maxwell and Xavier Doherty to bowl to a particular line, the vice-captain was engaged in a long chat with the young Steven Smith.
Call it pure 'co-incidence' but Clarke dropped in at the adjacent net area only after Watson was done with his session.
It was like 'Exit Watson' and 'Enter Clarke' when Watson went back into the main stadium as Clarke came out to check his boys training.
There have been rumours of possible differences between the two but both have denied any fallout and maintained that they are good friends.
While most of the Australian players were busy at the net area, Watson alone, with the assistant coach, was seen taking slip catches inside the main stadium. The normally eloquent Ed Cowan produced a 'dead bat' when asked about the possibility of Watson leading the team in Clarke's absence. "At the moment, Shane is not captain of the team," was Cowan's curt reply.
"There are expectations that the vice-captain will step up if the captain is injured but Shane is a good player and a good leader," Cowan added what seemed like an afterthought.
Asked about what has changed in the dressing room from start of the Mohali Test and lead upto this match, Cowan replied, "The event in Mohali provided a bit of solidarity in the team. "It proved that if you are in, you are in. And Shane has shown that he wants to be a part of it. The team is happy to have him back as he is one hell of a player."
The one who impressed the most during the session was tall fast bowler James Pattinson, who was seen working up a lot of pace as he unsettled the likes of David Warner and Phillip Hughes. Pattinson, in all likelihood, will be coming in place of Mitchell Starc, who has flown back home to have ankle surgery.