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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