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September 30, 2012

World Twenty20 2012

He's got the middle order in his hand

Jarrod Kimber
Shane Watson took two wickets, Australia v South Africa, Super Eights, World Twenty20, Colombo, September 30, 2012
How long can Shane Watson continue to carry Australia's middle order?  © AFP
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This tournament is fast becoming the search for Australia's middle order. It's weak, wounded and clutching rare gems, but first you have to get past the gate keeper. For the fourth time in four matches Shane Watson swatted away anyone who came near the Australian middle order. He has climbed halfway up the World Twenty20 tower clutching the Australian middle order in his large sweaty palm, and will have to be brought down by someone or something special for anyone to see this middle order.

There was a time when Dale Steyn looked like the man who could bring down Watson. Steyn was fast and on song, and Australia barely limped out of the gate. Dave Warner struggled to get bat on ball, Watson was subdued and Steyn seemed to lift Morkel as well. There were plays and misses and the scoring rate was low. South Africa looked confident and Australia appeared meek. The talk started to be about Australia's first real test of the tournament, people wanted to know what were Australia made of. They're made of Shane Watson.

After four overs Australia were 15 for 1 but when Steyn was taken out of the attack, Watson opened up. The next four overs went for 45, and Australia went from nervous to magnificent. Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Johan Botha, Robin Peterson and Wayne Parnell all were dealt with like they were pesky net bowlers. Fours were smashed, sixes were cracked. At one stage Watson almost blasted a ball through the rib cage of long off. South Africa collapsed in much the same way Ireland, West Indies and India did.

In this tournament Australia have lost seven wickets. England lost that many in about eight minutes on one night. Tournaments like this are often won by one man, Shahid Afridi in 2009 and Kevin Pietersen in 2010, but neither of them had half the impact that Watson has already had. The most wickets in a world T20 ever is 14, Watson has 10. The most runs in a world T20 is 317, Watson has 234.

At the moment he is mis-hitting sixes, bouncing out the world's best batsmen, and taking a team that was rightfully a laughing stock and making them their favourite for the whole tournament. It can't last, can it? There are three matches left for Australia if they make the final, and Watson can't be man of the match in all three of them, no one could be man of the match in seven straight games.

The next match will be against Pakistan, the team that defeated Australia 2-1 in the UAE as a warm up to this event. The team that reaffirmed the notion that Australia's middle order is fragile and their play of spin is suspect. Watson was there and made two 40-odds and took a wicket each match. That was the Watson of a few weeks ago, the human Watson. Nothing like the carnivorous man-beast we now see before us.

This Shane Watson is master of the universe. In his grip is Australia's middle order and Australia's chance of winning the tournament. Watson's holding them tight in one hand, while knocking out everyone else with the other.

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

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Posted by Pete on (October 1, 2012, 23:33 GMT)

Lets not get carried away. Any t20 game can change in the space of an over, and once it reaches knock out that could be Australia's hopes over. Having said that Australia have enough x-factor players any one of them could choose that day to shine. Great cricket to watch and a great article

Posted by Tim on (October 1, 2012, 9:04 GMT)

As much as we realise that Aussies middle order isn't as incredible as Watson is currently they are still yet to be dismissed this tournament, any of them, so how can you be critical.

Posted by expert on (October 1, 2012, 7:33 GMT)

Watson can be rested against pak cause they have david hussey sitting on the bench... who can play spin better than anyone in this team.....

Posted by grg on (October 1, 2012, 7:32 GMT)

and a reply to an earlier comment,, dont bowl hafeez to watto . thats my advice to the pakistani camp. any spinner who doesnt have a variation delivery is just gonna watch the ball sail into the stands. the real test would be saeed ajmal, cos he's troubled shane before, so lets see how he does against ajmal

Posted by grg on (October 1, 2012, 7:26 GMT)

for all those people who think that watson's form is just temporary and that he's just having a good run this tournament, you couldnt be more mistaken. For the past 3 years watto has been playing incredible cricket, he's got the alan border medal twice in a row ! now that watson's established himself well in this side, he's playing to become a legend. yup, right up there with the haydens, the pontings, the gilchrists etc. it is inevitable that he is going to become an absolute legend. Now that he's gotten some attention, its time he gets some more recognition instead of those overrated players like yuvraj, umar akmal (so called talent), dhoni etc etc

Posted by Rahul on (October 1, 2012, 7:03 GMT)

You really have a way with words Kimber...You are the Sehwag amongst writers. Way to go!

Posted by Shashwat on (October 1, 2012, 5:29 GMT)

Yesterday, I read some people say Watson only fired due to poor bowling of the opposition and he is not a dependable cricketer and also that he cannot do the same against quality bowlers like Steyn and Morkel. This my friend is a smash in their faces. He is the best cricketer in this tournament. Highest wicket taker, most run getter. He respected the good balls by Steyn but in the same time hammered most of the others. Superb Watto... he can single handedly win the tournament for Auzzies.

Posted by ramanujam sridhar on (October 1, 2012, 5:11 GMT)

watson is in the form of his life - batting, bowling , not to forget his fielding. I think what Watson has done, is that he has capitalised on this amazing vein of form and has not given it away to a lazy or casual shot when he has been on top. In short he has capitalized on his form and good fortune. When he was dropped by the west Indians , he made them pay. The australian middle order would be ok if David Hussey were to get a chance and that seems unlikely as Australia is winniing and winning without breaking into a sweat, though Watson is making the opposition break into a sweat! Well done Watson Ramanujam Sridhar

Posted by MrKistic on (October 1, 2012, 4:37 GMT)

Fairly sure he's due to succumb to injury again this week so another team may still have a chance.

Posted by aashish on (October 1, 2012, 2:39 GMT)

As one of the commentator said on Tv, 'Shane Watson could even bring peace in the world at the moment'. Indestructible!!!!!

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