Cricket: Shane Watson weighs up future after disciplinary controversy
SHANE WATSON insists he "loves" playing cricket for Australia - but stopped short of ruling out international retirement following this week's disciplinary issues.
Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja were all suspended for one match after failing to deliver a presentation, as instructed by coach Mickey Arthur, on the way forward following defeats in the first two Tests of their current tour of India.
Watson subsequently flew home to Australia to be with his pregnant wife and admitted he was "weighing up his future" at Test level.
And he told reporters today, in footage broadcast on Sky Sports News: "This will give me a time to be able to reflect on what's happened over the last couple of days, to absorb what's happened and have a think about where things are at.
"I absolutely love playing cricket, I love nothing more than having the opportunity and privilege to be able to represent my country."
Watson revealed "things had sped up" as his wife, TV presenter Lee Furlong, prepares to give birth to their first child, a development he only became aware of after he was suspended.
"When I told her that things had changed with my selection, she let me know that things had certainly sped up," he said.
"She wasn't going to let me know that because she knew how much it meant to me to be able to play in the Test match.
"In the end, that is the reason why I'm home."
Former captain Kim Hughes suggested the decision over whether to continue in Tests should be taken out of Watson's hands.
"If Shane Watson has to think about his position, that tells you more about him than anything else and maybe we're better off bringing forward a younger kid that wants it," Hughes said.
"I'd give him the marching orders tomorrow.
"He spends more time being rotated than a rotisserie, he gets paid millions of dollars and sure, his wife is having a baby, but if that's the way he's thinking then he should go and play IPL (the Indian Premier League).
"The sooner we get rid of him the better if he is having to think about it and he's the vice-captain."
Pattinson, though, said: "We're right behind Shane as a team. We definitely think he can come back and do a great job for the team.
"He's a fantastic guy and we'd love to have him back come the fourth Test if all goes well back home."
Pattinson himself admitted his suspension was justified and expressed hope that the "kick up the bum" can spur the team on to Ashes success against England.
He said: "People might say it's a harsh punishment for a small thing but I think if we look outside the actual thing we did wrong then it's other stuff as well, it builds up.
"If I wasn't in this position, if it was someone else, as a team member I'd be disappointed in them that they'd let the team down.
"You give 100 per cent on the field and there's no reason why it shouldn't be off the field as well.
"One day we could be a great team but at the moment we're not. If we can build a good culture then one day we'll be a great team.
"I think this is the kick in the bum to make you really realise what we've got and what we really want, and that is to get to number one.
"So leading into this massive summer over in England and then into the Ashes back home, this is just that stepping stone which could lead to something special in the future."
Captain Michael Clarke hopes the punishment serves to ensure there will be no repeat of this week's failure of the players to respond to their coach's request.
"We owe the game a hell of a lot every time we walk out on to the field, not the other way around," he said.
"To me not only is it disrespecting the team, not handing this information in, but it's disrespecting the head coach and that is unacceptable at any level.
"I think it's the toughest punishment you can have, to miss a game for Australia - let alone a Test match - it doesn't get any tougher than that in my opinion. I don't think we'll have another incident like this.
"When it comes to discipline and standards, you set them high and you make it very clear to players this is what's acceptable and this is what isn't acceptable."
Cricket Australia high performance manager Pat Howard said: "Over a period of time, [to try and improve] the discipline of the whole system, to get better, that's what the team performance review is about.
"There are people that are doing this and raising the level and there are other people that are taking longer to get on board.
"There have been plenty of warnings and as a consequence, you eventually have to make a call and that call was made. Not easy, I appreciate that.
"You can only get your last chance so many times."
Howard did not see any reason why the four disciplined players could not work with Arthur again.
"Mickey and Michael are unbelievably united on this," Howard said.
"I've spoken to the board, I've spoken with James Sutherland the CEO, it's a collective."