It’s slipped largely unnoticed that Shane Watson is Australia’s leading wicket-taker in the tournament and only second in their batting charts. What has been impossible to miss, though, is the manner in which Watson has turned his form around this tournament. After failing to score in the first two matches, Watson played the kind of destructive innings at the top of the order that forced people to compare his style of physical, impact play to the role Matthew Hayden played.
“It definitely wasn’t a great start to the tournament, batting-wise,” said] Watson. “I felt my bowling had been pretty good, but it was good to get going with the bat today. Ricky (Ponting) helped me a lot out, especially in the middle periods when I was finding my feet out against the slower bowlers. It was great to bring it home, it’s really nice when you have days when everything comes off.”
Ricky Ponting helped Watson through a scratchy initial phase and watched in admiration as the allrounder pounded the bowling into submission in the final overs. “Shane didn’t get a lot of boundaries early on. I got off to a bit of a flying start but he had to play second fiddle,” said Ponting. “As the innings went on, I was trying to get the singles and get to the other end, making him hit all the boundaries! We have seen tonight and over the years that when he gets in and gets set, he can really dominate attacks. To do it tonight after bowling eight or nine overs was impressive.”
Watson’s exuberant celebration on reaching three figures showed the relief the innings brought him. “I have been very lucky to be a part of some big games throughout my career, not so much playing a big part in these games but learning how to deal with situations, not getting too overawed by the situation which I have been previously,” said Watson. “I had been hoping to get a hundred from the first part of the Ashes. I got a few fifties but never really went on to it. It was great to have Ricky there to be able to get me through.
“The great part about being an all-rounder is that if you are not batting well, the bowling keeps you going. You know it’s not far away when both aspects of your game will come together, it’s great when it does in one day.”