- Watson has shown that there is still plenty of cricket left in him.
- Ten years ago, Watson’s heroics for Rajasthan Royals in their title-winning season had revived his international career.
- Watson’s efforts this season might just help him prolong his career as a T20 globetrotter.
Watson finished fifth in the run-getters list with 555 runs. (AFP Photo)
All of that, though, seems a distant memory now. Having finished fifth in the run-getters list with 555 runs including a match-winning 117* in the final against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday, Watson has shown that there is still plenty of cricket left in him. Ten years ago, Watson’s heroics for Rajasthan Royals in their title-winning season had revived the 36-year-old’s international career. As CSK reflect on their latest triumph, Watson’s efforts this season might just help him prolong his career as a T20 globetrotter.
While Watson can now heave a sigh of relief, the last one year must not have been easy. For a cricketer who had spent the last decade dominating the IPL as well as international attacks around the world, the steep decline in form over the last couple of years must have been a bitter pill to swallow.
“It’s just been a special season. To get an opportunity after my previous year at RCB was incredible. The support I have got from CSK to be able to contribute at the top has been amazing,” he said after the final on Sunday.
Watson certainly has to be lauded for the effort he has put in to still win matches single-handedly at this stage of career, but CSK deserve their share of credit as well. At the IPL auction in January, it was CSK who started the bidding at Rs 1 crore and sustained it till the very end. And then, they optimised Watson’s strengths by making him bat at the top of the order against the hard new ball instead of shoving him lower down.
As CSK coach Stephen Fleming said on the team’s return to Chennai on Monday, there was complete conviction on their part of Watson’s destructive ability. The Big Bash League, where Watson scored 331 runs for Sydney Thunder, certainly played a part in their decision while his good form in the Pakistan Super League (319 runs) just leading up to the IPL must have done the Aussie’s confidence a world of good.
“Our CEO, Kasi Viswanathan, was very fond of Shane. He looks quiet, but he has got some very strong opinions. To add to that, we loved what Shane has done in the past. Our discussion was around his future and we had seen during the Big Bash that his form had returned. We have always liked players that are multi-talented. Shane has hurt CSK a number of times while playing for Rajasthan. We wanted to get him in our side than play against him again. He has been incredibly professional. He has even exceeded my expectations of how professional he is. He realises he has got some limitations, but he was ably managed and looked after himself well. MS Dhoni also looked after him. In the end, we didn’t need his bowling. He just became a power hitter for us at the top,” Fleming observed.
It will only get harder for Watson from here on given that he will turn 37 in a few weeks’ time. But as CSK have shown time and again, they have a knack of getting the best out of their players and could do it in the coming season too.