Shane Watson (in picture) has been an understudy for six years under the likes of Rahul Dravid and Shane Warne © IANS
Shane Watson, with all the controversies and temper issues is the last person one could think of as a captaincy material. Abhijit Banare looks at the positives and flip sides of Watson leading Rajasthan Royals.
Captains are broadly classified into two types. One of them is a natural leader. There is a is a sense of assurance surrounding them and they have the skill to manage their players and get the best out of them. Mike Brearely is the first name one can think of. And then there are these players who lead by example. They just go out and perform; the rest of the team draws great support from them. And a rare set of geniuses manage both. Rajasthan Royals had these rare set all through the six seasons of Indian Premier League (IPL) before. Shane Warne sprung a surprise right in the first season. His ability to perform as well as shepherded young talent was noteworthy. And then Rahul Dravid defied expectations by performing well in the T20s and brought a calm attitude in the team with his captaincy. With Shane Watson as captain now, the franchisee has taken a chance in restructuring the leadership with a new team.
Just to elaborate on above lines, Watson falls in the performer category. Very little is seen about his captaincy but being a match-winner, he just goes out and changes the momentum of the game. Even while contributing with the ball, he picks up key wickets. Watson would have very well prepared himself for this role. Even before the official announcement, Dravid had indicated after the Champions League T20 that Watson is likely to lead from hereon.
Why Watson, is he a captaincy material?
With all that unfolded in Watson’s career over a year he is the last player to be spoken about as a captaincy material. The homeworkgate incident, infighting in the team during the first leg of the Ashes, being outspoken over critical issues especially on the team manager and Mickey Arthur, Watson is certainly a temperamental character on the field. It’s easy to rile him up and elicit a reaction. Even during an IPL match last season against Mumbai Indians, a deliberate provocation by Kieron Pollard set up a duel between the two and even when he walked back after being dismissed, a furious Watson threw his bat and went to the dressing room. This is just one of the many instinctive reactions from Watson seen while playing for Australia too. Being the vice captain of the team, the Australian management looked at him as a potential captain, but after the fiasco on the tour to India, Brad Haddin has taken over the mantle of being Michael Clarke’s deputy. From outside, it looks like Watson may not be a good captain. But the real catch on his abilities is mentioned below.
Rajasthan Royals were blessed with two brilliant captains till the last season of IPL © IANS
Legacy of Dravid and Warne
Watson has played under two great leaders and performers of the game. In the last six seasons, with all the international experience he has, Watson would have definitely picked up the nuances of leadership. Leading an IPL side for an overseas player is tricky. You need to understand the young players and the cultural barriers. You should have the ability to effectively communicate with them. Having spent six seasons, who better than Watson to understand how the overall team structure and culture is based on. With Dravid being the mentor with the franchise, he must have certainly advised the owners on how Watson can take the team forward. With a legacy already set, Watson in all likelihood will work hard to continue the same team culture from his predecessors than set some revolutionary example!
Patience is one of the key virtues of a captain. It doesn’t come naturally to Watson, but it’s something he will naturally learn having been so experienced. Hence being temperamental doesn’t necessarily mean he will be a bad captain.
What does the captaincy mean to Watson
As mentioned earlier, Watson is a temperamental player. However, captaincy can bring in a lot of change in the player’s attitude. One live example is that of Virat Kohli. He is certainly the most expressive player making his disappointments and happiness evident on the field. Yet while captaining the side, he looks unperturbed. Patience is a key virtue for a captain. It doesn’t come naturally to Watson, but it’s something he will naturally learn having been so experienced . Hence being temperamental doesn’t necessarily mean he will be a bad captain. This season might as well bring out the responsible side of Watson.
IPL has been a proving point for many players. Many Australians have come under the selector’s notice with good performances in the tournament. Watson will have a point or two to prove when he leads the side this season. A successful outing will once again force the Australian selectors to think of him as a leader. Even Warne was never looked upon as a leader throughout his career. At least he proved a point by leading Rajasthan to a title finish with relatively unknown players. It’s indeed a challenging season for Watson but one can be sure that there will be noticeable change in him at the end of the tournament. Either he would have stretched and succeeded or the failures might teach a new lesson altogether.
It’s certainly a brave decision from Rajasthan franchise to entrust Watson with the captaincy role. They have been known to take such decisions and most of them have paid off. They will be hoping this decision works out well too.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)