When a cricket fan sits back and recalls the best all-rounders in the history of cricket, Australia’s Shane Robert Watson will surely be on their list. Born on the 17th of June, 1981, Watson is a right-handed batsman and a right-handed fast-medium swing bowler who hails from Queensland. He is the first Australian to score international centuries in all three formats of the game.
‘Watto’, as he is fondly called, was a scholarship holder in the Australian Cricket Academy. Though he started his domestic career with Tasmania, he went back to play for his home team, Queensland. At the age of 20, he was delivering top performances in the Pura Cup and caught the eyes of the selectors through his performances in the Pura Cup in Australia.
Shane Watson: Along the years
Shane Watson started his first-class cricketing career for Tasmania after leaving his home state of Queensland but returned to play for his native Queensland as his international career started to blossom. Watson didn’t stay in the domestic set-up for much long as he was detined for greater things when he received his call for the ODI senior team in the year 2002. He has played 137 First-Class matches so far and scored 9,451 runs at an average of 42.57
It was the Australian duo of Shane Warne and Shane Watson that scripted Rajasthan Royals fairy-tale run in the inaugural season of the IPL. Not only was he the leading run-scorer for the side, he was also the third-highest wicket-taker and played a crucial role in the Royals' success story.
In the following years, Shane Watson continued playing for the Royals but sometimes the national-duty and sometimes the injuries topped him from competing in the premier tournament. However, in the fifth season in 2013, Watson showed his class yet again when he compiled his maiden IPL hundred, 101 against CSK.
The all-rounder led the Royals in 2014 but had a modest outing by his standards. He was back among the runs in 2015 but had to battle injuries and missed a few games. However, he went to make an unbeaten 104 against Kolkata Knight Riders that season.
After Rajasthan Royals were banned due to the spot-fixing scandal, Watson threw his hat in the ring for the mega-auctions. A fierce bidding war ensued for the Australian and eventually, he was sold for a whopping Rs. 9.5 crores to Virat Kohli led Royal Challengers Bangalore where he had one of the worst seasons of his career which even Watson has admitted on several occasions.
However, a returning Chennai Super Kings side pouched him for the 2018 season and the faith shown in him by MS Dhoni and the CSK team management was repaid with interest by the Australian in the final where he hit a magical 100 with a battered and bloodied knee. CSK won the tournament, courtesy Watson’s heroics. He silenced critics who were opining that he didn't have the mettle to still be part of the IPL caravan by smashing a really handsome 555 runs in the season - his best in IPL history.
The 2019 season was a bit sedate by his own standards but the veteran is expected to turn the wheel in the upcoming season.
The all-rounder made his ODI debut in 2002 against South Africa at the Centurion. He scored just two runs and bowled six overs without any wickets. But the Aussies won the game by 45 runs. Watson continued as a regular member of the ODI team until the start of the 2003 Cricket World Cup where he was all set to make his debut but an unfortunate injury meant that he had to miss the World Cup bus. He returned to regular ODI duty in the 2004–05 season, as a bowling all-rounder.
Even four years after his ODI debut, Shane Watson had not produced any masterclasss performance that showed his true potential. However, that changed when he was promoted up the order and opened the batting for Australia at the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy, alongside wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist. 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, he then took 2 wickets and scored 57 not out in the finals to seal the win.
The 2011 50-over World Cup was a run-fest for the opener and he continued the good run as the best knock of his career came against Bangladesh, nine days after the World Cup ended when he stroked an unbeaten 185 runs inning with 15 sixes and 15 fours.
In 2015 World Cup, he helped Australia reaching the finals scoring 67 against Sri Lanka, and 64 against Pakistan, as Australia went on to win the tournament. His last ODI came against England on 15 September 2015 and a year later he signed off from the format for good.
The success in white-ball cricket gave Watson the chance in Tests in 2005 but injuries plagued him in a big way which meant that he had to wait till the 2008-09 season to play the format frequently.
Watson was named in the squad for the 2006–07 Ashes series against England, however, another injury forced him to sit out of the first three-Test match of the series.
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.
Before the 3rd Test against India in March 2013, the team management of Michael Clarke, who was also a selector at the time, and coach Mickey Arthur, dropped four players from the 3rd test, which included vice-captain Shane Watson, along with James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja for failing to make a presentation on team performance. After the Ashes defeat in England in 2015, Watson decided to quit from Tests.
The T20 format was Watto’s pet format as he had exceptional success not only for Australia but also in the IPL where he became a household name due to his all-round skills. Australia has never won the t20 World Cup but in 2012, riding on Watson’s superlative form, the team came really close to the title. His dominance with both bat and ball made him the unanimous choice of the experts to be named Player of the Tournament. On 31 January 2016, Watson was named T20I captain and became one of the few Australians to captain in all formats, he opened the innings after a long gap and scored 124*, which made several records.
Watson captained the Australian test side in a single test match in 2013 due to the injury sustained by Michael Clarke. He did not have a memorable outside as the Aussies lost the match inside three days against India.
Shane Watson was born on 17 June 1981 to Bob and Barb Watson in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. He is married to Lee Furlong and has a son named William Watson and a daughter named Matilda Victoria Watson.