Shane Watson: Legacy of Australia’s greatest T20 player

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Photo credit: AFP
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Batting through the pain barrier with a bloodied knee or winning the inaugural IPL in 2008 as a starry-eyed youngster-Shane Watson has been there, done that! Seven months shy of his 40th birthday, the Australian all-rounder bade farewell to all forms of cricket, leaving behind a memorable legacy, especially in T20 cricket.

Once morphed into Australia’s version of Andrew Flintoff, Watson found solace at T20 arena and capitalised on the franchise era that seemed Taylormade for his attacking batsmanship and effective bowling.

For MS Dhoni and the much-followed Chennai Super Kings, Watson brought with him aggression and a sense of occasion. In the playoff games and the final, he would boom. He was a big- game hunter. As he drifts into the sunset of his illustrious career-when arguably, he had some more cricket left. He is 39, but his unbeaten 83 against Kings XI Punjab in the ongoing IPL was high-octane batting. Watson’s body, though, could not take the workload though, and, after injuries and surgeries, he was forced to concentrate on his powerful batting. He still sent down his medium pacers cleverly.

The burly all-rounder had retired from Test cricket in 2015 but continued his career in T20 tournaments including the Big Bash League and IPL.
Watson has had a storied IPL career over the years. His performances helped Rajasthan Royals beat CSK to win the title in the maiden season. He also went on to play for Royal Challengers Bangalore, before joining CSK. His performance in the IPL in 2008 had helped resurrect his international career. He won the 2015 ICC World Cup with the Australian team on home soil.

He had his successes in Tests with 3731 runs at 35.19 and 75 wickets at 33.68 in 59 matches. But it was limited-overs cricket and T20 in specific, where the Queenslander found his mojo.

Shane Watson
Australian all-rounder Shane Watson in action for CSK. Photo credit: IPL

Shane Watson making his mark

In an era, where the brand of cricket that was globally played, Shane Watson-along with Andrew Flintoff was perhaps the flag-bearer of the changing times. In many ways, the 39-year old epitomises a modern-day cricketer who is loaded with big shots and unwavering confidence in his ability. His gentle medium-pacers were hard to get away and often resulted in batsmen being fooled into playing non-existent shots. Watson was memorably the first player to score a century in Test, one-day and T20 formats.

Time and again, looking at his all-round ability and game-changing batting, Watson was picked to play Test cricket and was given a licence to thrill, even at the longest form of cricket. However, the handsome cricketer’s biggest moments arrived in the shorter formats; he made his international debut in 2002. He went on to become a World Cup and Champions Trophy winner.

Throughout his career, he made the most of his ability and added a different dimension to every team that he represented. In his heydays, he could give flying starts to Australia in Test matches, or could change a complexion of the match with a stunning catch or
with a timely wicket to his captain-making him almost undroppable, even in the Test side.

Shane Watson and IPL

Shane Watson has been one of the icons of the Indian Premier League over the years, having scored 3874 runs and picked up 92 wickets. He was part of the Rajasthan Royals camp that went on to win the inaugural edition of IPL in 2008. Watson was the Most Valuable Player for the Shane Warne-led side as he scored 472 runs and picked up 17 wickets.

Apart from that triumph in the first season, Watson found success in 2018 as well, when the Chennai Super Kings won the title after a return from a two-year hiatus. The Queenslander spent 7 successful years with the Royals before moving to Royal Challengers Bangalore wherein he didn’t find a lot of success under Virat Kohli’s stewardship.

However, he revived his IPL career at Chennai Super Kings after he was bought in the IPL 2018 auction by the former champions. Watson was part of CSK’s title-winning campaign in 2018, hitting a 57-ball 117 in the final against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

The following year, Watson was not able to repeat the consistency of his inaugural season. However, the team management showed faith in him and Watson delivered in the style towards the business end of the tournament. Watson hit a valiant 80 with a bloodied knee but his effort went in vain as CSK lost the final to Mumbai Indians by 1 run.

As he approached the twilight of his glorious career, the 39-year-old Australian faced constant scrutiny in Chennai’s slow start to the season. He answered his critics with an unbeaten 83 giving his team a slim hope of playoffs. But as the team faded into oblivion as the season wore on, Watson decided to call it quits, leaving behind an untenable legacy. Thanks for the memories Watto!

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