Bowler running in quite content, no sweat running down his face, no huge plans in his head, doesn't want to knock the head off the batsman, isn't looking to sledge him either, lands it on a full length with a bit of a nip, out comes the massive front pad that’s more catastrophe for this batsman than protection, 'Howzaaaaat' bellows the opposition, with the bowler almost laughing wildly in his head. Up goes the finger. Mission accomplished. No funky captaincy, no detailed outlining of the fieldsmen, no mind games going around. The review is taken but very much expectedly, it’s against the batsman. It was almost way too easy. It’s not a tail-ender’s wicket. Enter the, of late, day-to-day cricketing life of Shane Robert Watson.
There are instances of cricketers getting 10, 20, at the most 30 odd games (rarest scenario) as a yardstick to prove their worth in a Test team. Is there anyone from the current crop of cricketers whose place in the side has been questioned in spite of a 13-odd year old yardstick? The latest troll ‘#WatsonLBW’ by Twitter folks, is just a result of the undoing that Shane Watson has brought upon himself in his mightily fragile Test career, that looks exactly like his bulky frame: huge, size wise, but badly broken otherwise. Yes, Watson had some unfortunate injuries at crucial junctures. Yes, Watson’s body has broken down when he’s just returned to the side and looking to gain momentum. But how far would the selectors go to stick to their pre-notion that Shane Watson is ‘THE’ only answer to their fill in the all-rounder slot?
Even if you don’t carefully scrutinise his Test batting career, that’s about to enter limbo, you can’t even count on your fingers the number of clutch/memorable performances that Watson has given when it actually mattered for the team. Yes, it’s that low.
Shane Watson, like Stuart Broad, treats UDRS as ‘a Review allotted for me, mine and myself’ and not for the team. Maybe he doesn’t realize that the decision review system is mocking him silently as well, ‘U Don’t Review, Shane’. Since 2013, Watson has only managed to score 3 half centuries and would you believe that all of these have come on dead rubbers? Yes, that’s how bad a reputation Watson has developed after all these years. For someone who always gives the impression that he could deliver so much more, it’s a real pity.
26.66% of his Test dismissals have been LBW, that’s the most for anyone who has played 100 Test innings. It’s a staggeringly bad record for someone who’s played majorly as a proper Test batsman in the top order.
He’s not even the friendliest on the field. As a matter of fact, oppositions willingly relish the opportunity to get under his skin. More often than his performances, he’s been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The ugly celebration with Chris Gayle, the shoulder charge with Gambhir, the spiteful, unnecessarily snide ‘just f*****g walk’ to Mahela Jayawardene. Let’s not even get started on all the episodes with Kieron Pollard.
The reluctance of acceptance. That’s what Watson suffers from. Even when he’s dismissed in the cleanliest of manners, you’d always notice a frown/disbelief on his face while walking back to the pavilion. As if the entire world had aligned itself to dismiss him and state that he’s the most unfortunate batsman to walk the face of the planet.
Gilly retired after dropping a couple odd regulation catches, Dravid retired when he realized he couldn’t figure where his off stump is. Ponting retired after making an absolute mockery of a harmless full length Kallis delivery. Shane Watson has crossed all these stages a long time back. His batting is in the third stage of batting cancer, if there ever existed such a thing.
It’s not possible for him to change or adjust his technique during this period of abysmal form. He's played far too many international games to adjust from his initial trigger of the front foot that makes him most susceptible to any delivery at the stumps. The end is nigh for Shane Watson. Either bask in the glory of a fan-fare retirement Test where you can bow out on your own terms or Cricket Australia will have to finally, finally close your chapter. Who knows? If and when Shane Watson calls quits on his retirement, he might want to review that straight-forward decision as well.