More often than not, when describing an enigmatic personality the adjectives pinned against the name in admiration are as many as the vivid talents the person is known to possess; the more the versatility, the more the adjectives. And in Shane Watson’s case the accolades are breeding on grounds of plurality world over. Known as “Watto” in Australia and revered by fans as a Giant, at 6 feet 1 inches, Shane Robert Watson has captured the collective consciousness of the cricket lover, regardless of geography or nationality. With a hulk like frame that boasts of broad shoulders that can withstand many a tussle, a height that if may not be imposing but lanky enough to quiver any opposition, and sheer strength to take the best of deliveries out of the park for a walk, Shane Watson is the ideal ploy to smash the enemy camp. And what’s more, the Aussie is gifted with a calculative cricket brain that finds itself busy plotting the opposition’s downfall either when applying the “muscular power play” or when about to shoot the ideal one , that could seal the fate of the batsman in front.
Since the very beginning, Australian Cricket has remained a dominant force in the game producing time after time many legendary figures. It has enjoyed stints at the very peak and off late, despite some exquisite talent by its side, it is not a threatening force as it once was. While the Bradman’s have forever remained at the top of the summit, the Waugh’s legendary performances have remained a piece of cricketing history. With the Mcgrath’s, Hayden’s and Warné’s having retired but not before putting their individual names across a mammoth tally of records, the period in the middle 2000’s has been literally hunting for an iconic name, this is off course taking nothing away from Test Cricket’s second highest scorer-Ricky Ponting. May be the name is that of Watson. A hard hitter to the core and an intelligent bowler, this thinking cricketer may well be the next herculean force that is often attributed to the kangaroos. Shane debuted against the Proteas in the ODI’s in 2002 and made his test debut a little late in 2005 when Australia took on Pakistan. It’s been a decade since the mighty Queenslander made his inroad in the game, and looking back at what he has garnered, Shane Watson’s impressive record answers in pomp the major worry that the Australian cricket witnessed all this while- the search for a genuine all rounder. How often do you see a cricketer destruct the opposition repeatedly combining strength from both verticals; mental and physical while deploying a silent plan that remains only for the team’s glory and not for the opposition’s comprehension? Already close to four and a half thousand one day runs from just 144 games with the help of 25 semi tons and 6 tons along with 138 wickets, Watson is truly a utility cricketer who shines equally well in the longer format. With a healthy average of 39 in tests along with 16 half centuries and 56 wickets, Watson has built a memorable legacy in a quick period of just 32 Test appearances. At a time when greed for a quick buck remains rooted in the consciousness of players and one dare say the administrators, Shane Watson’s lengthy achievements that include a massive unbeaten 185 in a one dayer with 15 half a dozen hits an inning that saw him beat Matt Hayden for highest Australian ODI score, also complement his gentleman approach to the game, one that is not always attributed to an Australian cricketer. The man doesn’t sledge nor indulges in unworldly provocative gestures on the pitch, but for the time that he stays either at the pitch or rages toward the batsman from behind the brave umpire, one thing is certain- excitement shall overcome the outcome of any game.
Injuries- scare someone else
Not only at the fag end of their careers but even at the beginning, apart from the mighty enemies, cricketers encounter a literal infective element that can be prolonging and highly intensive- injuries. And the Queenslander has braved one too many, at such rapid intervals that would put a pause on his game forever, let alone leaving him with a chance to construct momentous milestones. But not the man to give up, Shane “Hercules” Watson has amidst challenges and pressures, injuries and longevity of the same come up with meaty scores for Australia saving the side from many a disaster. With a forever shaky Andrew Symonds dropped, Watson was engaged as ‘a could be’ all rounder from late 2008. The Yorkers, shorter ones complement the one bowled with good length consistently but it is the special ability to pick up wickets when needed the most that puts him in contention with the very best in business. He has picked up 3 five wicket hauls but it is the power hitting which is the highlight of the mighty lad. To this day, his maiden test century 120 *vs Pak is remembered for the resolve as is every memorable knock of his. If the the 3rd Ashes test in ’09 test saw from the bat a careful 62 and 53, then the 96 vs Windies was known for its brisk stroke play. In 2010, he struck a breezy 126 and 56 in back to back innings versus India in India. Talking of all-rounders, If cricket had its name sealed in gold with Garry Sobers, and shinning bright with Kapil Dev, the legacy of this supreme ability was continued with aplomb with a certain Jack Henry Kallis. But with the illustrious South African nearing the twilight zone, it seems the baton for the best all rounder had gravitated toward Shane Watson.
Which team would not be jubilant on having an all round performer, the one who can bat, and literally carry the bat through to rip apart the rivals, bowl and bowl them literally out of the game. To the mind of the enemy, the sheer sight of a player like Shane Watson can cause mental deterrence leading to casual but eventual phasing out of all carefully designed plans. When Watson hits the cricket ball, it stays hit and importantly what part of the ground shall remain untouched by the hits remain spectator guesswork. The pulls can cause hamstrings to the bowler, the punches down the wicket are a literal punch on the enemy camp and the number of drives can drive the intense competition to a one sided end- a win for Australia. The fans come packed for giant entertainment and through this , mega entertainer real dosage of entertainment is served to one and all. His teammates couldn’t have asked for a better player, for apart from his shinning talent , he provides the freedom to accommodate an additional talent, the commentators struggle to find a dull moment with him in action and every now and again, there are sights of genuine applause from competitors on account of his marvel at display.
A gold mine of talent for Australia and a Royal for Rajasthan:
Starting 2007, when he wasn’t out there shouldering critical responsibility for Australia, Shane was either spending time with doctors or undergoing rounds of prescribed medical treatment for those recurring injuries. This could have frustrated and would have torn apart any young cricketer. But adversities didn’t know that they were up against the obstinate force in Shane Watson. When slightly recovered, his constant stints at domestic Pura cup in Australia and with IPL’s hugely respected team, the very first winners, Rajasthan Royals, came in good stead. Watson displayed courageous and effective play in all his seasons with the desert fortress based at Jaipur, and made cricket loving fans turn pink in smiles throughout the season. Unfazed by critics and unbothered by the ever growing talent base back in Australia, Shane’s effective performances during the IPL prompted Cricket Australia to rethink about this great talent and given the charm and overall likeability without mentioning the powerhouse performances, it was just a matter of time, before man would be seen donning again the glittering gold for Australia. Soon Watson would go onto confirm his prima donna status of being Australia’s trump card in key encounters and a lethally entertaining asset for fans worldwide.
It has been long since the mighty stars of Australian cricket have retired and with Ponting set to walk into the sunset, the icon seal from the national side shall be bereft of another performer. But with Clarke, Hussey, Warner and Marsh around, there is talent and immense potential in the kangaroo camp. But with a certain Shane Watson around, one thing is certain- the kangaroos are bound to jump and in the jump there may be a giant leap of their cricket toward the former glories that held them high.