Wat­son tests the best

Auckland City Harbour News - - SPORT - By JU­LIAN RAETHEL

Bowl­ing to some of the world’s finest bats­men would be har­row­ing for most up-and­com­ing crick­eters.

But Dane Wat­son seems right in his el­e­ment.

The off-break spin­ner from Ep­som has been gain­ing some rare ex­pe­ri­ence as a net bowler for Cricket World Cup sides.

He’s one of the first on the list when vis­it­ing teams are in town and in need of some valu­able time fac­ing spin in the nets.

It’s a mas­sive priv­i­lege for the 20-year-old to test him­self against the bench­mark.

‘‘At the end of the day it’s just the nets.

‘‘It’s ob­vi­ously nice to beat the bat of an in­ter­na­tional player, or get a nick, or hit the stumps but it’s not the same as in a real game.’’

Wat­son has fired a few down the pitch to the Black Caps, Aus­tralians and South Africans in prepa­ra­tion for their pool matches.

Put a ball in his hands and he’ll give his wrist a flick as he whirls it up for his left hand to catch – a nat­u­ral habit for any spin­ner.

But spin bowl­ing didn’t al­ways come nat­u­rally for Wat­son and was some­thing he needed to learn as a 13-year-old for his Grafton side.

‘‘My Dad was coach­ing a team for me and my mates,’’ he says.

‘‘We needed a spin­ner and Dad said it was my best chance of get­ting some bowl­ing time.

‘‘It wasn’t re­ally a choice, I didn’t re­ally know much about it when I was younger.’’

The for­mer Auck­land Gram­mar School stu­dent has since taken tips from the likes of Daniel Vet­tori and South African quick Dale Steyn.

But it’s the Aus­tralian skip­per who Wat­son has learned the most from.

‘‘Michael Clarke has been a mas­sive hero of mine, I’ve al­ways looked up to him. He’s had his ups and downs, but al­ways come back in the face of ad­ver­sity. Like af­ter his good mate Phillip Hughes died, Michael made a cen­tury in the next test.

‘‘It’s been great to pick his brain, for ex­am­ple where I should have my field set and what pace I should bowl.’’

Wat­son played for New Zealand Un­der-19s and Auck­land A.

Con­ced­ing just 3.2 runs an over on av­er­age, he’s taken 10 wickets from his eight matches in the one-day game this sea­son for club side Sub­urbs New Lynn. His best fig­ures were 4/19. The World Cup has reached the sud­den death stages and Wat­son is wait­ing for one more call-up in prepa­ra­tion for the semi­fi­nal at Eden Park on March 24.

Fin­gers crossed it will be the Black Caps who are there to meet him.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour news.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to watch a video of Wat­son in the nets.

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