In an Instagram live chat session set up by Chennai Super Kings, Shane Watson was in all praise for skipper MS Dhoni and head coach Stephen Fleming for sticking with him when he was struggling to score runs in the last edition of the Indian Premier League.
Former Australian all-rounder Watson is unarguably an IPL legend. He started his journey with Rajasthan Royals and won the inaugural season under the leadership of Shane Warne. He was one of their most prolific performers and did wonders for the franchise for years. He moved to Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2016 but couldn't replicate Rajasthan-level success at Bangalore.
The all-rounder was up for grab in the 2018 mega auction and the Chennai-based franchise got him for INR 4 crore, and he went on to have a phenomenal season. Many eyebrows were raised when Chennai acquired the services of Watson but he shut up all his critics by amassing 555 runs in the season. smashed two centuries and as many fifties in the season, including that match-winning 117* against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the final. 2019 however wasn't that kind.
He started off his campaign with a 10-ball duck and could only manage 147 runs in the first 10 encounters. The team management however showed a great amount of faith in him and Watson smashed 96 off 53 against Hyderabad to return back to form. He only scored 25 runs in the next four innings but he finally stepped up in the playoffs. He first hit 50 against Delhi Capitals in the second qualifier and then struck a 59-ball 80 in the final against Mumbai Indians but couldn't get Chennai over the line as they lost the match by just one run.
"You can go for 10 games not scoring runs and still get picked. Last season, thank you to MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming for keeping the faith," said Watson.
"Every other franchise would have been 'You are gone. Thank you for coming, but you are sitting and you are running the drinks.' Through that period, unfortunately, I felt like I was batting well but I was just not scoring runs and that kept going on and on. At some stage, I was feeling after a couple of games that they are going to have to move me on, but they didn't.
"And then when things turned around, which I knew it would at some stage, I thanked MS and Fleming for keeping the faith, and they said there was never any doubt. And that's phenomenal. That made me feel 10-foot tall.
"That's the power of amazing leadership. To know when to stick with people you believe me, and that's amazing for me. And I am forever indebted to those guys."
Dubbed as the 'Dad's Army', Watson also shed light on why Chennai backs experience over youth.
"I think people look back at it (2018 auction) now and see what Stephen Fleming, MS Dhoni, and what hierarchy of CSK have put together is 'experience under pressure'. It made me realise that the experienced players under pressure know what they are gonna do. Of course, if you have got young players, they are incredible. But when you have got a lot of experienced players, you get more understanding about how we are gonna handle pressure situations."