The Courier-Mail



IT LOOKED set to be another night of hu­mil­i­a­tion for Shane Wat­son un­til the world’s most­ma­ligned crick­eter turned in a per­for­mance that show­cased his value to Aus­tralia.

Wat­son’s time in the Test team and first-class cricket may well be over, but he re­mains a pri­or­ity player for Aus­tralia in the lim­ited-overs for­mats head­ing into next year’s Twenty20 World Cup.

Af­ter his latest for­get­table dis­missal, Wat­son (pic­tured) roared back with a decisive bowl­ing per­for­mance that claimed the two big Eng­land wick­ets as Aus­tralia surged to a 59-run tri­umph in Southamp­ton to open the five­match one-day se­ries.

There are not enough lad­ders to walk un­der or black cats to cross to war­rant the luck Wat­son has en­dured in the past few days.

In the T20 against Eng­land in Cardiff he blocked a ball that freak­ishly bounced back to­wards his stumps, and with a chance to kick it away, Wat­son had a com­plete air swing and was dis­missed.

Then on Thurs­day night, through no fault of his own, Wat­son was called through for a run that was not there by bat­ting part­ner Matt Wade.

He was caught short of his ground by me­tres – a mix-up that could have cost Aus­tralia the match.

It was cruel and un­usual pun­ish­ment for a man who has suf­fered enough on this tour fol­low­ing his ax­ing from the Test side af­ter one Ashes match. Wade un­der­stood this was no or­di­nary stuff-up and that he had in­ad­ver­tently kicked a man when he was down.

“I feel for Watto for sure. I feel bad about it, def­i­nitely,” said Wade, who went on to pro­duce the match-win­ning in­nings of 71 not-out off 50.

“You don’t re­ally (put it out of your head) for the first 15 min­utes, you’re think­ing about it.

“I was dis­ap­pointed. I thought there was a run there ob­vi­ously and there was not a run there.”

Eng­land were cruis­ing at 1-152 to start the 27th over when Wat­son found some­thing spe­cial to slide one through an ap­proach­ing James Tay­lor and clean bowl him for 49.

It broke a 40-run stand with Eng­land cap­tain Eoin Mor­gan that threat­ened to take the match away from Aus­tralia.

Wat­son gave Tay­lor a death stare as the jockey-sized bats­man walked past him and slowly Aus­tralia started to get hot again.

When Wat­son then got Mor­gan to leave Eng­land 5-194, the wheels com­pletely fell off as the home side lost a fur­ther two wick­ets with­out trou­bling the scor­ers.

As well as the qual­ity of his bowl­ing, Wat­son, 34, is bat­ting at No.6 and the man who re­placed him in the Test side, Mitchell Marsh, is com­ing in at No.8.

There is faith in Wat­son to pro­vide an ex­pe­ri­enced voice for new cap­tain Steve Smith and to re-es­tab­lish him­self as an in­ter­na­tional force.

 ?? Pic­ture: AFP ??
Pic­ture: AFP

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