Over-rate fine only blip in Australia's victory
Australia's stand-in captain Shane Watson will be in danger of a suspension during the ODI series in the West Indies after he and his team were fined for a slow over-rate in their triangular series final victory at Adelaide Oval. After a tense match, won by 16 runs, the ICC match-referee Chris Broad calculated that Australia were one over short of the required rate over the course of Sri Lanka's innings, meaning each member of the team lost 10% of their match-fee while Watson was docked 20%. Under the ICC's code of conduct, Watson will now effectively be on probation for the next 12 months, with another over-rate transgression while he is captaining in an ODI leading to a one-match suspension - the fate that befell India's captain MS Dhoni earlier in the triangular series.
The transgression was the one pitfall of a night on which Watson led Australia shrewdly in the field, and helped restrict Sri Lanka in their pursuit of a middling target on a slow pitch. After lifting the series trophy he said the team had finally come good in the field, following a patch of poor form.
"After getting 231 we knew we were going to have to bowl and field extremely well to defend that and we certainly did that through the whole 48-49 overs," Watson said. "That's what we've been talking about, to actually put it all together, and we were able to do that and that is very satisfying.
"We didn't always bowl to our plans over the last couple of games; in the first final in Brisbane we let it slip a bit, and nearly lost that game. So we needed an all-round bowling performance. We also needed a good fielding performance to keep the intensity throughout the 50 overs. It is brilliant to see that when the guys really set their minds to it we can do it, and we set a standard tonight."
Australia's squad departs for the West Indies via Sydney in the early hours of Friday morning, and Watson said the team would celebrate its victory as heartily as possible before the long-haul flight to the Caribbean. The squad has shown considerable signs of fatigue towards the end of a successful, if draining, summer, and now has more cricket ahead rather than rest.
"That's going to be the biggest challenge [to refresh themselves]," Watson said. "You've certainly got to enjoy the good times and the good wins. I think we have a 5.15am departure from the hotel, so there could be a few tired blokes after celebrating tonight. So as long as it's not too crazy and too hectic the guys have a bit of time to freshen up on the flight and make sure that once we get to the West Indies we're ready to go next Friday."
Watson, standing in for the injured Michael Clarke, has a remarkable thin resumé as a captain but, in the third final, showed an ability to lead by example with the ball, while also moving the field around in a suitably thoughtful manner.
"It's been a very exciting time for me; to be able to see the game from a different perspective has been a lot of fun," Watson said. "I suppose normally standing out on the fence you're trying to deflect a bit of banter that's coming your way, so actually being there around the bowlers all the time, communicating with them is a lot of fun, and it's nice when everyone sticks their hands up like they did tonight."
Edited by Dustin Silgardo
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here