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Cricket: Watson gives up Australia team vice-captaincy

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Shane Watson has stood down from his role as Australia's vice-captain across all formats of the game, Cricket Australia said on Saturday, following his controversial axing in India last month.

Watson said he had been "wrestling with the decision" for a while but it was the right time for a change for him and the team.

The allrounder's decision follows a disappointing tour in India, scoring 99 runs in three Tests at 16.50 and continuing a lean run of form over the past two years where he has made 627 Test runs at 24.11 without scoring a century.

Watson, 31, was sensationally dropped for the third Test and served a one-match ban after failing to prepare feedback on how the team could improve and deliver it to management. Three other players were also axed.

He made it clear he felt the punishment was overly harsh and, at the time, said he would be considering his future, with Saturday's announcement likely to be met with questions about whether he walked or was pushed from the role.

"I think it's the right time for a change for both the team and me," Watson said in a statement Saturday.

"I'll be honest and admit I wrestled with the decision for some time, however once I made up my mind, I informed Cricket Australia so the selectors could consider their options for the Ashes given the squads will be announced soon."

Watson said by standing down from the vice-captaincy he could focus his attention on scoring runs and made it clear that though relinquishing the title "I think I can still be a leader and strong contributor around the group."

Chairman of selectors John Inverarity said regardless of Watson's decision he remained an important senior leader within the Australian team.

"Shane Watson should be commended for making the tough call to step down from the vice-captaincy to focus on playing. Regardless, he will still be an important senior leader within the team," Inverarity said.

"The selection panel will now consider and then put a vice-captaincy recommendation to the Cricket Australia Board for its approval."

Watson said he had called Inverarity, coach Mickey Arthur and captain Michael Clarke "and they respect that decision and agree with me that this is the best outcome for me and the team".

"In my conversations with Mickey and Michael I reaffirmed my commitment to the team and support for them as we fight to win back the Ashes and get back to being ranked number one in the world."

Cricket Australia has not set a date for the announcement of the Ashes squad. The first Ashes Test begins at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on July 10.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130420/cricket-watson-gives-australia-team-vice-captaincy