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September 28, 2012

World Twenty20 2012

A true IPL success story

Jarrod Kimber
A familiar sight as Shane Watson collects a Man of the Match award, Australia v India, World T20 2012, Super Eights, Colombo, September, 28, 2012
Surprise, surprise, Shane Watson is man of the match  © ICC/Getty
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"Don't bowl there to Shane Watson #wt20" said an excitable @cricketaus on twitter.

The "there" was a short slow leg spinner outside legstump. You probably shouldn't bowl there to any batsman in the world, regardless of skill level or venue. At the moment, you could pretty much bowl anywhere to Shane Watson and he'd find a way to hit it for six.

The first ball of Australia's tournament was a wicket to Watson. In that game he was man of the match. Against West Indies he was man of the match. And today he was man of the match. In the tournament Watson has eight wickets, 164 runs, and three cheques. He also caught Chris Gayle, eventually. We still have no idea how good Australia are, because no team has come close to getting past Watson.

Australia's middle order could be their Achilles heel but unless Watson gets dismissed early we'll never see them. Australia can't rotate the strike against the spinners: not a problem if Watson just hits them for six. Australia have two young and inexperienced seamers in their line up: but Watson is protecting them as best he can with his trusty medium pace.

Australia are three from three because of Watson. Perhaps the hit out in the UAE and their training camp in Darwin helped refine their game. They may have sorted their fear of spinners. The pitches being faster than expected is going to be to their advantage. And George Bailey may be exactly what this team needed. But in this tournament all we've really seen is Watson.

Watson hasn't looked this invincible since he took Rajasthan to a very unexpected title as a lowly paid player in the first IPL season. At $125,000 he was paid $75,000 less than Justin Langer by the same team and wasn't even sold in the first round of the auctions.

At that point in his career Watson gave more press conferences about injuries that he took wickets or runs. He was brought back into the Australian side with phenomenal speed every time he was fit, and yet his performances never really justified it. He was the favourite whipping boy of the fans, very much the Australian Rohit Sharma. His IPL contract was more because of a strong 2007 World Cup and through his former Australian and Hampshire teammate Shane Warne. He was man of the tournament, broke back into the Australian line up, and has become the Shane Watson of current day.

The IPL gets much flak, but Shane Watson is one of its true success stories. It was perhaps not the success story that India was looking for. All that time in the IPL has certainly given Watson plenty of practice of hitting rubbish bowling far into the subcontinent stands as dancing girls and fireworks go off.

There was plenty of rubbish bowling. But should Watson, and Warner, get some of the credit for that? Both are the sort of batsmen that bowlers properly fear. They are both strength players who don't just dispatch bad balls, they murder them. A bowler knows a slight mistake in length to Watson, or line to Warner, will disappear. That is pressure. Against England a lesser Indian attack was unplayable, Watson and Warner turned them into mush. They were decisive, sure and brutal. They should get as much credit for how they batted as India get criticism.

South Africa had muddled their way to 133, Pakistan had stumbled to 136 and India underachieved to 140. Watson punched Australia to 140 in less than 15 overs. Every shot he played was 100% sure of what he wanted to do with it. He made a decision, and he put the ball there.

In other forms of cricket, Watson can cause problems for Australia by not making the big hundred that completely changes the game. And his body never really looks like holding up for too long a spell. In this format of the game his making a sixty is a big innings, and four, usually non-consecutive, overs seems to be ok with him. He's a perfect killing machine for T20 cricket, and in a format where one man can make a huge difference, Watson is taking Australia from a ranking below Ireland to a legitimate threat for the title.

The Australians call Glenn Maxwell "The Big Show" but right now Shane Watson is the entire show.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Keywords: World Twenty20

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Watto on (September 30, 2012, 1:40 GMT)

JRodd, I know it hurts acknowledging my greatness, so suck it up princess!

Posted by Daniel on (September 29, 2012, 13:04 GMT)

IPL has also revived the careers of Chris Gayle (who wasn't this destructive before the 2011 IPL) and TM Dilshan (who transformed into an opener only because of IPL)

Posted by Kami on (September 29, 2012, 10:42 GMT)

It was just a day for Watson...same team was beaten twice by Pak some days back. Subcontinent teams still take pressure in playing with Aussies..if Dhoni would have bowled first, the result could be different....

Posted by Weqas Ali on (September 29, 2012, 10:16 GMT)

Really IPL is a failure story for Indian Cricket Team. The reason is quite obvious. No worries for indian player to fail in the international cricket because even if they are out of the team because of bad performance IPL is there to earn money for any average cricketer. And if IPL was a success story then pakistan should have never qualify for the super eights. but they played semi final of every WT20 so far and seems to play again.

Posted by moniker on (September 29, 2012, 10:08 GMT)

Mr Jarrod Kimber, I forgive you this time, but please don't mention Nohit Sharma and Shane Watson in the same context ever again! Neither of them deserve it!

Posted by Ram on (September 29, 2012, 8:44 GMT)

Watto may be success story of IPL, but since the inception of IPL India is yet to win a super 8 match. IPL has ruined Indian cricket.

Posted by RASHID on (September 29, 2012, 7:18 GMT)

I feel watson is a smart and elegant cricketer. He has calm nerves and has all the temperament to win matches for his team. But i would still like to say that pakistan cricket is very unpredictable and they can handle watson very well. only problem with pakistan is their poor run chasing ability. they somehow lack confidence in their batting. i would suggest pakistan team should play asad shafiq in middle order to handle the pressure in crunch games.

Posted by Kartik on (September 29, 2012, 6:34 GMT)

India knew before going into this match, the whipping they took in all formats of the game from Aus last winter. But obviously either the Team Mgmt was on high or they should acknowledge that they are a Team of 1 Only and Not a team of Eleven. They had no contingency plan in case that player had to failed? They were the weakest link for Super 8 and will finish like one. You kn=ind of laugh on all these Pundits - in Chappell, Boyc, and Murali.

Posted by abhay on (September 29, 2012, 6:23 GMT)

aussie smashed indians to all corners of the field.ipl has made it known to the outside world of bowling wide off side to dhoni, shortpitch to raina,kohli,floating outswinger to gautam. it has also made thm aware of the shortcomings india has in bowling.IPL is like FDI in retail gud for multibrand owners without any obligation towards indian farmers or consumers.obviously ipl has failed to produce any quality bowlers.i see india beating pak but losing to proteas on tuesday.

Posted by Sunil Kher on (September 29, 2012, 6:00 GMT)

I am afraid but again here we go with the IPL. If Watson himself were to answer honestly, will he attribute all his success to IPL? Even if IPL would not have been held, I am sure Watto would have been successful ... if not more. Indian players have gotten accustomed to IPL sums of money and hence their performance in T20 has gone down the tube. IPL should not be treated/boasted upon as success story from any angle IMHO (unless the inception was to make Indian team the worst in every facet of the game).

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