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ICC World T20 2014: Why Shane Watson is Australia’s trump card

Shane Watson holds the key for Australia in ICC World T20 2014, according to their captain © Getty Images
Shane Watson holds the key for Australia in ICC World T20 2014, according to their captain © Getty Images

Australia’s Twenty20 (T20) skipper George Bailey said on Wednesday that the experienced player Shane Watson will be the team’s trump card in the upcoming ICC World T20 2014 tournament after his all-round show in the last Test against South Africa at Cape Town. However, there is more to the tall, burly Australian all-rounder. Sudatta Mukherjee tells you why Watson is George Bailey’s trump card.

George Bailey believes that Shane Watson‘s all-round skills will help them win the only ICC title that they are yet to win. Bailey said he hopes that Watson, who had piled up 345 runs from five Tests in the Ashes 2013-14 and taken four wickets, would replicate the same kind of game in the ICC World T20 2014. However, Bailey has forgotten that Watson is one of those international T20 players, who has done considerably well in the Indian Premier League (IPL), in the Indian subcontinent.

Watson’s statistics from the past year and after the last World T20 give another perspective. He has played only five T20 internationals; his highest score has been 37 and he averages around 17.40.

Nevertheless, in between those five T20Is, Watson had participated in Indian Premier League 2013. He scored 543 runs, at an average of 38.78 and picked up 13 wickets. He was awarded the Man of the Series. He has played 55 matches in IPL and has scored about 1,785 runs at an average of 39.66. He has taken 48 wickets. He is one of the big names in IPL T20. He is a natural player in the shortest format of the game and he doesn’t need to convert his Test performance to play big matches for Australia.

Watson also has the backing of Darren Lehmann, whose guidance has transformed him into a better team-player. And probably more so, with Shane Warne in the Australia side as the spin-bowling coach, who was also Watson’s skipper during Rajasthan Royals‘ IPL title.

Bailey stated that Australia’s reason behind losing the ICC World T20 2012 edition was the deficiency of adequate bowlers and Watson’s presence as a part-time bowler will help him. He also mentions Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell and Brad Hodge.

The statement comes across as a bit strange. As a bowler, Watson is almost a specialist, and is way ahead of Finch, Maxwell and Hodge, who are the real part-timers. Hodge, who is one of the best or probably the best T20 cricketer in the game, has rarely taken wickets for the teams he has played. He has bowled in only 80 of his 214 T20 matches and taken only 62 wickets. Maxwell, who has been tried in India as a spinner, has taken 24 wickets from his 67 T20 matches. He has a bowling average of 29.91 compared to Watson’s 24.02. Lastly, Finch has bowled only 14 times from his 86 T20 matches with five wickets under his belt.

In international T20 cricket, Watson has opened bowling for Australia on four occasions till date. He has even taken a wicket with the first ball against Ireland.

Surely, with Warne and Lehmann’s guidance, Bailey will be able to use Watson to the extent the all-rounder deserves. With the World T20 being held in Bangladesh this time and the next World T20 scheduled to take place in India, Watson will be a firepower for Australia, more so because he is well accustomed to the Indian subcontinent conditions.

While Bailey needs to project how he will use his trump card, the opposition is the one that needs to worry on how to tackle Watson in ICC World T20 2014. With Pakistan, India and West Indies clubbed into the same group as Australia, the Australian World T20 campaign will surely be something to look up to.

(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)

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