Shane Watson — Shane Robert Watson is an Australian cricketer. He is a right-handed batsman and a right-handed fast medium bowler. He mainly bats as an opener in international cricket, although he does not do so domestically.
He debuted for the Australian cricket team in 2002, playing his first One Day International against South Africa. While he has become a regular member of the one-day squad, Watson has played few Test Matches for Australia, having debuted against Pakistan at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January 2005. Despite being allocated to be Australia’s designated Test all-rounder, injuries have often prevented him from claiming his position in the Test team. However, from the second half of 2009, Watson has acted as Australian Test opening batsman, along with Simon Katich. Watson was awarded the 2010 Allan Border Medal.
Watson started his first-class cricketing career for Tasmanian Tigers after leaving his home state of Queensland, but returned to play for his native Queensland Bulls as his international career was beginning. He has also played for Hampshire in the English County Championship. He regards Terry Alderman as one of his mentors.
Watson was selected for his first Australian team in early 2002, being selected to tour South Africa with the Test team after topping the Pura Cup wicket-taking charts for Tasmania, as well as steady middle-order batting performances. Australian captain at the time Steve Waugh stated that Watson would possibly be Australia’s first genuine all rounder since Keith Miller and Alan Davidson in the 1950s. Watson expressed joy at being selected in an Australian team with Waugh, whom he cited as his idol. Watson scored an unbeaten century on his debut in a tour match, but did not play in the Tests as the selectors retained the same XI that had swept South Africa 3–0 in the Australian season. Watson did make his ODI debut on tour, ironically replacing Waugh, who was sacked after the team failed to make the ODI finals in the preceding Australian summer. Watson continued as a regular member of the ODI team until he suffered three stress fractures in his back, at the start of 2003, missing the 2003 Cricket World Cup. He was replaced by his Queensland teammate Andrew Symonds, who proceeded to establish his position as the all rounder after scoring 143* and 91* during the tournament.
Watson’s injury sidelined him until the 2003–04 Australian season, and during his rehabilitation he played most of the season as a batsman, allowing himself to improve his batting skills while his back was still healing. During this time he smashed an unbeaten 300* for his club side, Lindisfarne.
Watson returned to regular ODI duty in the 2004–05 season, as a bowling all rounder. He also played in the Third Test against Pakistan as the fifth bowler, in order to allow Australia to play two spinners and three pace bowlers on a dry Sydney Cricket Ground pitch.
Following England’s Ashes victory over Australia in 2005 with a five bowler strategy, Australia responded by including Watson as the fifth bowler and all rounder in all Test matches. Watson stated his intention to emulate Andrew Flintoff, who played the analogous role for England. Watson played against the ICC World XI in the role, but he dislocated his shoulder in just his second Test in that designated role against the West Indies, after diving to field a ball. Watson was again replaced by Symonds and was unable to represent Australia for the remainder of the summer.
He was recalled for the one day squad for the 2006 tour of South Africa but was dropped when all-rounder Andrew Symonds returned from injury. Watson was looking to establish a place in the Test side when he got injured, and Andrew Symonds stepped in to fill the gap.
Watson had been previously criticised for his relatively flat bowling trajectory and inability to move the ball, reflected in his relatively high bowling average. Jamie Cox, a former Tasmanian team-mate and future Australian selector, felt that Watson was being mis-used as a bowling allrounder, believing that he was better suited as a conventional batsman and part-timer bowler, rather than a bowler who engaged in power hitting in the latter part of an innings.
This changed when Watson opened the batting for Australia at the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy, alongside wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist, instead of Simon Katich. In the competition he impressed with both the ball and bat, as Australia moved to their first Champions Trophy victory. Critics and captain Ricky Ponting cited his better strike rate, straight hitting and the ability to bowl as the reasons why he was selected ahead of Katich. After failing in the first two matches against the West Indies and England, Watson made a 50 in Australia’s victory over India, which sealed their place in the semi-finals, and in the 2009 Champions Trophy was held in South Africa, Watson again played a prominent role, making two consecutive 100s against England and New-Zealand in semi-final and final, helping Australia to defend their title.
Ponting suggested that Watson would bat at the number 6 position in the Ashes series against England in 2006–07, and he was named in the squad. However, he came off the ground in a one-day domestic game the week before the first Test with a suspected hamstring tear, which ruled him out for the first three Tests. Michael Clarke was called up in Watson’s place, and responded with a half-century, and then a century to cement Clarke’s place in the team.
Watson was expected to be fit for the fourth Test on Boxing Day and the MCG in Melbourne, and because of Damien Martyn’s unexpected retirement, it looked likely that Watson would be included in the side. However, another injury setback in a match for Queensland ruled Watson out for the rest of the Ashes series. Watson eventually returned in February to the ODI side, replacing Cameron White in the all rounder position, However he again broke down with injury during the 2007 Cricket World Cup and missed most of the Super 8’s before returning in fine style smashing an unbeaten 65 off 32 balls against New Zealand. Injury again struck Watson in the early stages of the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 as he missed most of the tournament due to hamstring strain.
He was then out of action for the 2007–08 Australian season.
After Symonds was omitted from the Australian team for disciplinary reasons, and Watson took the all rounder’s position for the tour of India in late-2008, batting at No. 6. During the Third Test in Delhi, he was involved in a series of confrontations with Indian opener Gautam Gambhir, who scored a double century and reached his century by lofting Watson over midwicket for six. During the innings, Gambhir elbowed Watson while going for a run, and claimed that the incident was not intentional at a press conference, and claiming that Watson had no capacity to dismiss him. He later pleaded guilty and was banned for one match.
After returning to Australia, Symonds was recalled to the Test team and both all rounders played in the First Test against New Zealand in Brisbane. As the pitch was a green, rain-affected moist surface expected to favour seamers, spinner Jason Krejza was dropped to accommodate two seam bowling all rounders. After the match, which Australia won, Watson was dropped as spinner Nathan Hauritz was included and Symonds retained. Symonds continued to perform poorly, and there were calls for Watson to take his place, but both men then fell injured at the end of the year, Watson with a stress fracture. Watson returned to international duty in the ODI series against Pakistan in the UAE, scoring a century.
He returned to the Australian Test side for the 3rd Ashes Test match at Edgbaston on 30 July 2009 when he replaced opener Philip Hughes who had been struggling for form. In a rain interrupted match he made 62 and 53 batting alongside Simon Katich. He scored his second highest Test score of 96 against the West Indies in the Second Test in Adelaide in December 2009. He and Katich put on a century stand and he had reached 96 at stumps, only to inside edge his first ball of the next morning onto his stumps while attempting to hit a boundary to reach his century. In the Third Test, he made 89 in another century stand with Katich. In the second innings, he removed opposition captain Chris Gayle and then charged towards him, screaming in celebration directly in front of him. This earned him a fine from the match referee, and considerable criticism from much of the Australian public.
In the First Test against Pakistan, he made 93 runs on Boxing Day and featured in his third century stand in as many matches with Katich, but was run out after a mix-up with Katich in which both players ended up running towards the same end, again falling short of his debut Test hundred. On Day four, Watson finally made his first Test hundred. He went to lunch sitting on 98* and including the lunch break was stuck in the 90s for 106 minutes. After the lunch break he got to 99, and was then stuck there and could only get dot balls. He brought up his debut Test century in interesting style, hitting the ball hard to Abdur Rauf at point who put the catch down. The ball spilled away and gave Watson enough time to run through for the single he needed. His century came after 293 minutes off 186 balls with 9 fours and a six. When Ponting declared, he remained not out, making 120. Watson was awarded man of the match on 30 December for his role in Australia’s Test victory.
In the second innings of the Second Test at the SCG, Watson fell short of another century, dismissed for 97. During this Test, the Australian Cricket Media Association presented Watson with Australian Cricketer of the Year Award.
In the first test of Australia’s 2010 tour of India, Watson opened his account with his second test century – an attritional 126 runs off 338 balls on a slow, low Mohali pitch. The innings capped an excellent start to the tour, as he also scored a century in each innings of the warm-up match, albeit at a much brisker pace. He top scored again in the second innings with a run-a-ball 56, which proved vital in setting a competitive target as Australia’s middle order again collapsed in spectacular fashion following his dismissal.