Is this the end of Shane Watson's international career?
When Shane Watson retired from Tests, his intention was to prolong his ODI and T20I career but his axing from the Australian ODI team for the first three ODIs against India has raised questions about the future of his international career.
Once an integral part of the Australian ODI and T20 setup, Watson now has to prove himself again to regain his spot in the team. But is this the end of Watson’s international career?
Statistics show he is a quality limited overs player
In 190 ODIs that Watson has played in the baggy green, he has scored 5757 runs at an impressive average of 40.54.He has also picked up 168 wickets at an average of 31.79.Watson has also been a wonderful T20 player as he has shown numerous times in international T20s as well as in the IPL and Big Bash. In 49 T20Is he has scored 1164 runs at an imposing strike rate of 144.05, and he has also picked up 39 useful wickets.
With Australia looking to rebuild their team for the next World Cup in 2019 and the presence of three quality allrounders(James Faulkner, Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell) in their ODI side, the road to comeback in ODIs a little tricky for Watson but consistent failures by any youngster can still open the comeback gates for him .
His experience in the Indian subcontinent with his multiple stints in IPL and his match winning capabilities may prompt the selectors to pick him for the T20 side that will tour India for the World Cup. A T20 comeback is well in the sight for Watson.
Age not a factor in the Australian setup
Though Watson is 34, which is an age considered tough for comebacks, the Australian selectors are known for their penchant for picking strong performers than players who are young but underperform. If Watson can catch the eye of the selectors with his domestic performances, it would not be a surprise to see him wearing the coveted baggy green again.
The likes of Michael Hussey, Chris Rogers and Adam Voges are prime examples of how people past the ‘right age’ can also be an integral part of the Australian team.Watson has to keep his fragile body fit and perform exceedingly well and the selectors will surely not ignore him.
Need to perform in Big Bash and IPL
They say ‘Make hay when the sun shines’, if Watson seeks to make an immediate comeback into the Aussie team then he has to put in a couple of match-winning performances for the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash league. If he can win a couple of games on his own then he will surely be in contention for at least the squad for the World T20.
It is highly unlikely that Watson will go unsold in the IPL auctions this year, so when he is picked by a team in the IPL, he has to make sure that he sets the tournament on fire. It was IPL that gave him the recognition at the international stage, his exemplary first year with the Rajasthan Royals paved a way for his spot in the Aussie team and maybe in his comeback, IPL can be a contributing factor.
Young Australian batting talent a challenge for Watson
Australia possesses one of the best limited overs batting talent in the world and most of the batters in this lineup are young. David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh and Steven Smith are the torchbearers for the young Australian batting, which has got various other talented names.
If Australian selectors are in a dilemma of choosing between Shane Watson and a young talented batsman then Watson might find himself out of favour. The problem of plenty in the Australian limited overs batting lineup can thwart Watson’s comeback journey.
Watson needs to keep himself motivated
The biggest hurdle in the comeback of an ageing sportsman can be the lack of motivation to again represent the country. There have been numerous cases in the past when a cricketer once dropped in his thirties, struggled to perform in the domestic setup.
The lack of quality in the domestic circuit can be one of the reasons why players sometimes struggle to motivate themselves to perform. With successful players like Watson feeling that they have nothing left to achieve can also inhibit the urge to perform.
Watson has to make sure that he keeps himself motivated and the fire to again wear the baggy green remains in his belly. He has got enough talent to again represent his country, some good league performances combined with a fully fit body can be sufficient for him to make an international comeback.
Who wouldn’t want to again see Watson hit the spinners over midwicket again in his typical style?