'You have to turn on TV when he's playing': Shane Watson lauds former RCB teammate, names best coach he's worked with
Former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson might have played most of his IPL cricket for Rajasthan Royals but it was his two-season stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore where he would experience one of the many 'highlights' of his career.
Watson spent eight seasons with RR, the inaugural IPL champions before jumping ships to RCB, whom he played for in 2015 and 2016 under the leadership of Virat Kohli, whom the former all-rounder explains much more to him than just cricket.
"One of my career highlights is actually playing with Virat… at RCB. That was an amazing experience, for two reasons. To know Virat, what just to be able to understand what makes him tick on and off the field and just the great layers of a person that he's got as well," Watson said on the Grade Cricketer Podcast.
"It's not just cricket… he's a very interesting person, interested in other people as well. But then AB de Villiers at RCB as well… you just have to turn on your TV when he's playing."
Of his 3874 runs in the IPL, Watson has scored 2372 playing for the Royals. It was a stint that Watson reveals came at the right stage in his career, with the former all-rounder explaining how playing a tournament like the IPL against some of the best cricketers around the world gave him the confidence that he belonged out there at the international stage for Australia.
"Rajasthan for me was such an amazing launchpad for me, a relaunch in a way in 2008. After having injuries on and off for 2-3 years, that was an opportunity to play an international-quality tournament. That was the time when it was the perfect storm. Having Warney sort of leading me and knowing how to direct me and challenge me in certain ways," Watson added.
"That was really where things took off for me as an international quality and the belief that I could actually do something and win games against some of the best players in the world. Rajasthan was an amazing experience. The whole IPL always has been but especially the first 3-4 years, people were pinching themselves and thinking 'Can you believe we are playing a tournament of this caliber'".
CSK turned out to be Watson's third and final IPL franchise, a side with which he won the title in 2018 and finished runner-up in 2019. Who can forget Watson batting with a bleeding knee in the final of the IPL 2018? In three seasons, Watson notched up 555, 398 and 299 runs respectively before announcing his retirement from all cricket. But it was during this tenure that Watson ended up associating himself with the best coach he's ever worked with.
"RCB was a great experience after that because of playing with the caliber of people that I did. And then CSK was an incredible experience. To be in a team that was ageing… because of the experience we had. Being led by MS Dhoni and coached by Stephen Fleming who is the best coach I've worked with," said Watson.
"His man management skill, understanding of individuals, a team environment but then also his cricket knowledge. The ultimate I thing. The connection he had with MS Dhoni, so that was a super cool experience as well."