Aus v WI, Champions Trophy Warm-up, Cardiff June 1, 2013

Watson gives West Indies a lesson


Australia 259 for 6 (Watson 135) beat West Indies 256 for 9 (DM Bravo 86, Starc 4-29) by four wickets

Shane Watson gave West Indies a good lesson in how to change gears through an innings with a powerful century that helped Australia register an easy four-wicket victory in their first warm-up match with 11.1 overs to spare.

Despite the loss of both Australian openers in the opening over of the chase from Kemar Roach, Watson remained assertive throughout, combining well with Adam Voges in a match-winning 125-run fourth-wicket partnership as the pair took advantage of the indiscipline that crept into the West Indies bowling after the first 15 overs.

In the end a modest target of 257, on a seaming pitch, was made to look pedestrian by Watson, who made certain that the 2,000 fans, who had paid £20 a ticket, remained entertained despite the absence of Chris Gayle, who had been rested. Playing with the same gusto and aggression that Gayle uses to dominate opponents, Watson showed why he remains one of the most dangerous batsman in the game.

Roach, playing for the first time in England after returning home midway from the Tests series last year, made an immediate impact by getting rid of David Warner and Philip Hughes, who paid the price for playing expansive drives against similar deliveries: angled and moving away from the bat. Both were caught brilliantly by Denesh Ramdin, who dived to take the catch in front of first slip.

In the absence of Michael Clarke (rested along with Glen Maxwell and Xavier Doherty), Watson was the most experienced Australian batsman. To begin with, West Indies fast bowling contingent did well not to get carried away after the two quick wickets. Roach, Tino Best, Jason Holder and Darren Sammy maintained a tight off-stump line without giving much width to Watson and his stand-in captain George Bailey to free their arms in the initial Powerplay overs.

At 40 for 2 from the first 10 overs, Bailey was getting restless and had a few near misses. On 14, having pulled Holder for four, Bailey earned a life after Dwayne Bravo, at first slip, dropped a thick edge while attempting to take the catch on the dive to his right. But Bailey failed to make the most of the opportunity as he went for a slashing drive against Sammy a couple of overs later, to be caught by a second brilliant catch by Ramdin, who had a field day with four catches.

Watson remained unperturbed. He had come into the Champions Trophy on the back of good form in the IPL where he was the fifth-highest run maker. The difference today was he was opening compared to batting in the middle order during the IPL. Yet he adjusted without fuss and was at ease both on the front and back foot. Not rushing into his strokes, he made use of the bowler's lengths wisely. When Holder gifted him a half-volley, Watson punished him with a lofted drive over the mid-off for four. Next delivery, when the bowler pitched slightly fuller on middle and leg, Watson played a wristy drive to the left of midwicket for another easy four.

West Indies, especially Dwayne Bravo, tried to attack Watson. Bravo, in his very first over, tried to bowl short but was wayward and taken for 13 runs. He kept repeating the mistake in his following over, from around the wicket, to allow Watson to move closer to his century, which he reached with a chip-and-charge for a single. It had taken him 85 balls with 58 runs coming in boundaries.

At the halfway mark Australia were 129 for 3. In a further five overs they were cruising at 187 for 3 with 35 runs coming in just the 29th and 30th overs. Sunil Narine, who had gone for 12 in his first four overs, was hit by Watson for 15 in his fifth while Dwayne Bravo went for the most expensive over of the match, which cost 20 runs.

In the end West Indies were bound to feel disappointed. Although Darren Bravo had worked hard to hit a lovely 86, the inability of the other batsmen to capitalise on starts eventually robbed West Indies of finishing with a much stronger total. Johnson Charles started the innings with some flowing cover drives but as soon as the Australian bowlers found their lengths, Charles failed to change the gears and couldn't rotate the strike. In the absence of much able batsmen Marlon Samuels and the hard-hitting Kieron Pollard in the lower order, West Indies were always going to find it hard to build on the platform set by Darren Bravo. But if they watched Watson closely, they would have learned a good lesson.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 4, 2013, 4:03 GMT

    As an extension of my earlier comments; admittedly more to do with the ashes than the CT. It appears that Steve Smith's India form has continued for at least the first of the Australia A warm up match getting a hundred and top scoring against an attack that included Chadd sayers, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon. More strong showings should see him rushed into the squad and penciled in at number 6 for Australia; hopefully helping to fill the lower order void left by Hussey. Australia cannot afford to ignore solid form from anyone, especially someone who proved himself on the 'tour of hell' and continues to score in foreign conditions. a Middle to lower order of Clarke, Warner, Smith and Haddin wouldnt leave me completely without hope were the top order to fail. Fingers crossed though that 1. Steve Smith continues to impress 2. The selectors take the neccessary steps to include him in our squad/top 6 if he does. anything original to contribute?

  • Andrew on June 4, 2013, 3:04 GMT

    @India_MI_fan on (June 3, 2013, 6:20 GMT) - Tait is nowhere near the worst bowler to have played International cricket. There is a real problem when you use the terms International as it is generic. The reality is Tait failed to deliver in Tests, but his short form stats made him one of the GREATEST strike bowlers to have ever played limited overs cricket. In ODIs he has the SECOND BEST S/Rate of all time (qualification of bowling 1,000+ balls). You should look up the stat for the worst average for a bowler to have taken 100 test wickets the record ALMOST goes to Ishant Sharma! The worst bowler in International cricket ever - really is the Banga allrounders Alok Kapali & Khaled Mashud. Mashud was the captain & he use to bowler 20 overs an inning despite at one point in time having an average near 300!

  • Dummy4 on June 3, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    Australia has very limited batting options and therefore need as much form and confidence from within our squad as possible. The sobering truth is that that most of our batsmen really havent earnt their spot with their recent performances barring Clarke, and Rogers however it would be ideal for the sake of stability to limit the batting changes to one only in the early tests by including Chris Rogers. In the meantime it would be ideal if Warner, Hughes, Cowan, Watson and Khwaja were all to find some runscoring form in the CT and leadup games and give our selectors good headaches. At this stage Rogers should be penciled in as opener with his solid form and Experience leaving Watson and Cowan to duke it out for the other opening spot. So either Watson or Cowan but not both. Hughes should also be aware that his spot would go to Khawaja should Khawaja outperform him in the leadup games. Warner is safe (just) but only at 5 or 6 where his natural aggression would be most suited.

  • Ashif on June 3, 2013, 9:06 GMT

    @India_MI_fan Tait was fine when he had his radar on (which was quite rare). He has the best strike rate for any bowler in any ODI cricket and was also the 2nd highest wicket-taker in the 2007 World Cup. Dernbach however seems to appear every match like Shaun Tait without his radar.

  • Nayan on June 3, 2013, 6:20 GMT

    @jonesy2 So you are a genius and fortune teller in Cricket. Tell me who will win the Champions Trophy, who will be the runners up and who will be the man of the series. If you can predict these correctly, I will accept that you are really genious.

    On the other hand, I don't know if Dernbach is the worst bowler. Because he may become a better bowler, who knows. But for me Shaun Tait was the worst bowler to play international cricket. As an Indian fan, I accept that there were many mediocore bowlers who played for India. But they were not overrated. We knew that they would struggle. But the hype surrounding Tait was such that he was going to be the greatest bowles of all time.

  • Dave on June 3, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    Sammy should have still been the captain of the ODI team. and also the 2t0 team, he should give up the captaincy Test captaincy to Ramdin though..

  • Dave on June 3, 2013, 5:38 GMT

    And not only Chris Jordan but Miguel Cummings, Delorn Johnson and Ransford Beaton are all better choices than Tino Best mon'! and they are all well younger than him.

  • kartikeya on June 3, 2013, 5:35 GMT

    WI lost due to absence of key players otherwise they are the best of the 8 teams.

  • Dave on June 3, 2013, 5:33 GMT

    Am i the only 1 noticing the exploits of CHRIS JORDAN with the Ball!? and not only with the ball. W.I could well use his experience of English conditions and his form in the team...

  • Dummy4 on June 3, 2013, 2:37 GMT

    If they want to try to develop Mitch Marsh into a class allrounder in all forms; they should try opening the batting with him. That way he could get us off to some real flyers but also refine his technique against the newball. It could be an important stepping stone to Test cricket. They could also try bowling him at first change now and then and give him the full 10 overs. Nothing like responsibility to develop character and develop ones game.