There is an abundance of batsmen and bowlers in cricket. But a very rarely you see a top-class allrounder emerging. Skillful in more than one aspect of the game, they have the leverage to eclipse the failure they suffered in either one of the departments. Some of them might be batting allrounders, some might be bowling allrounders. Shane Watson evidently was one of those who had a fruitful career in both.
Undeniably Watson is one of the best allrounders that Australia has produced in the limited-overs format. The bulky allrounder was a genuine power hitter, both against pace and spin, he proved his might. Just like every other allrounder, Watson also began as a middle order batsman. Both with bat and ball, Watson’s start to his career wasn’t of great prominence. Not only his performance, his fragile body also didn’t support his cause. A stress fracture to his back in early 2003 saw him ousted from the World Cup that year. Even after his return in 2004, injuries continued to haunt him. During the 2005 Ashes series, in the 2nd Test, he dislocated his shoulder and was out for the remainder of the series.
Since 2006, Watson had been among the regulars in the Australian outfit. Gradually, he started to score runs and pick up wickets at regular intervals. Especially, when he started to open the innings his batting saw new heights. He is one among 11 allrounders in ODIs to score 5000+ runs and bag 150+ wickets.
Watson career took a U-turn in 2009, when he scored over 1000 runs and bagged more than 25 wickets. He followed it up with 771 runs and 22 wickets in 2010 and again with 1139 runs and 17 wickets in 2011. In just a span of three years (2009, 2010 & 2011), he scored nearly 3000 runs and bagged 68 wickets. He reached the landmark of 150 wickets in 2012 against West Indies and in 2013 against England he became the 2nd Australian to score 5000 runs and pick 150 wickets in ODIs. He was the 2nd quickest to achieve this feat.
Watson’s numbers in ODIs prove why he was one of the best allrounders. Among those 11 allrounders who have 5000+ runs and 150 wickets, Watson’s batting average of 40.5 is the 3rd best and his bowling average of 31.8 is 2nd joint best. When it comes hard hitting abilities, Watson is not far behind, his batting strike rate of 90.4 is the 3rd best. His bowling strike rate of 38.4 is the best among all.
Watson’s game saw new heights since he started to open the innings. In his first match as an opener he scored 79 against India in 2006. Out of the 5757 runs he scored in ODIs, 3882 runs have come as an opener, which is nearly 67% of his ODI runs. His batting average of 45.1 is the 2nd best among Australian openers who have scored more than 1500 runs in ODIs.
Just like his ODI career, the shortest format has also been a decorative one for Watson. In fact, his success in T20Is is better than in ODIs. Watson is one among four Australians who have scored more than 1000 runs in T20Is. He was the 2nd quickest to the milestone among the four batsmen. With 48 wickets to his name in T20Is, he is still the highest wicket taker for Australia in the format.
His most successful year in T20Is has been in 2012, where he scored 406 runs followed by 17 wickets. Especially his run in the 2012 ICC World T20 edition was enthralling. Before the start of the 2012 T20 World Cup, Australia were toothless tigers. There were no expectations on them as they were ranked 10th in the T20I rankings. But, what turned out was completely unexpected as Australia went on to win four consecutive games. In a matter of two weeks, Australia were the hot favorites to win the tournament.
This turnaround happened due to Watson. In all the four victories of Australia, he was adjudged as the player of the match. By the end of the league stage, Shane Watson was the highest run-scorer (242), highest wicket-taker (11) and had the most sixes (15) in the tournament. However, Australia lost to West Indies in the semi-final, but Watson was named as the player of the series in the 2012 edition.
Watson now plays in different franchise-based leagues after his retirement, but majority as a batsman. He was a part of the winning squad of Rajasthan Royals in the inaugural season of IPL in 2008. He was also the player of the tournament that season. He again won the player of the tournament award in the 2013 edition of IPL and became the first player to win the award twice.
In 2018, Watson was drafted in by Chennai Super Kings and the veteran was at his best. He scored 555 runs in that season with two centuries. One of his centuries came against SRH in the final, which led CSK to their third IPL title. Watson undoubtedly has been a massive presence in the IPL. He is the only allrounder to score 3000+ runs and bag 50+ wickets in IPL. The muscular allrounder has indeed had an embellished limited-overs career.