World Twenty20 2012 September 29, 2012

Watson 'almost the complete cricketer' - Bailey

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At the rate Shane Watson is cutting through opposition bowling attacks and batting line-ups, George Bailey, the Australia captain, will soon fall short of words to praise his colossal allrounder. After three successive Man-of-the-Match awards at the World Twenty20, Bailey has called Watson "almost the complete cricketer" and said there is no reason why he cannot continue his incredible run against South Africa and then even deeper into the tournament.

"I think he's really set himself to be the man of the tournament, to be the person who leads Australia as far as he can in this tournament," Bailey said ahead of Australia's second Super Eights game against South Africa. "When you see how he plays this form of the game, he's almost the complete cricketer."

Watson has been Australia's leading run-getter and wicket-taker so far in the event - his 164 runs have come at a strike-rate of 170.83 and his eight wickets at an economy-rate of 7.41. His opening partnership along with David Warner has been so successful that Australia's middle order, including Bailey, has hardly had to bat.

What pleased Bailey as much was the comeback of his bowlers against India after they had conceded 191 to West Indies. On a slow Premadasa pitch, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Watson made life difficult for the India batsmen with calculated use of the short ball. Bailey said Cummins' performance - 2 for 16 in four overs - was particularly heartening after he had been taken for runs by Chris Gayle and Co.

"Pat's a weird one because he is intelligent and you don't get many intelligent fast bowlers for starters, particularly at 19," Bailey said. "He is a bit different. I spoke to him after the West Indies game and felt like I was babying him a bit too much. This game [against India], I gave him a licence to bowl to his plans a lot more. He is a good thinker, he has got great execution, he's got good skills; he is someone who, in a short space of time, you learn to trust to execute exactly what the team needs. He is someone who can shake up key batsmen when they come in. He has got that extra pace. On the flip side, pace is only good when you bowl in the right areas, and that was the most pleasing thing [against India], his control and change-ups."

Bailey said the fast bowlers' approach might have to be modified against South Africa, who are more comfortable handling the short delivery, but said that a well-targeted bouncer would always be hard to tackle. "South Africa are an outstanding team. I don't think there is a real weakness there. It will be an interesting game in the way the two teams set up and how they play. [We] are probably quite similar. We'll have to go and see who plays the pull well and who does not, and where they like to score. When we used it [the short ball] against India, we were pretty smart about how we used it. Whether you pull or hook or not, I think if a bowler, particularly with some of the guys we have got with a bit of pace, if they are bowling a bouncer that is on the money, it is still going to be pretty hard to get away."

The nature of the pitch in Colombo has moved subcontinent teams such as India and Pakistan to pack their side with spinners. Pakistan left out Sohail Tanvir in favour of Raza Hasan and India left out Virender Sehwag to play three specialist spinners. Bailey acknowledged that spin would play a bigger role as the tournament progressed, but said playing your best bowlers, whether fast or slow, was the key.

"If your best bowlers are quick bowlers, you still bowl your best bowlers. They have to find ways to adapt. Even as the wicket turns a bit more, I think the quicks will be able to have an impact. It is about getting that balance right. We have got good quicks and our spinners are doing a good job. Whether later on the track, we need to start using Xavier [Doherty] as well - I guess that is something we will look at.

"Good to see [Glenn] Maxwell open the bowling for us. That is a nice option to have going further into the tournament. Dan Christian is starting to bowl deeper into the innings as well. It is good to see we have that flexibility with our bowlers."

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • VivGilchrist on October 1, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    @Aussasinator,, you are a cricketing mastermind colossus. They should get rid of all the coaching and technology at every teams disposal and call you up for gems of advice like bowling fast and short to Watson. Bravo! Also with England I don't think any other nation puts as much focus into Test cricket than Australia. Genius! Please shower us with more of your great insight.

  • Meety on September 30, 2012, 22:38 GMT

    @Aussasinator on (September 30 2012, 13:15 PM GMT) - I know trashing Ozzy cricket is one of your favourite past times & occupies your every waking our, but please answer me this IF "...Test this guy with fast short pitched stuff and he'll be exposed and out in no time.Wonder whynobody including SA have tried it so far?" - IF NOBODY has done this before, WHY do you THINK it will work???? Pure fantasy? Watto murders short bowling, it is stuff pitched up AND his own mind/body that gets him out!

  • Aussasinator on September 30, 2012, 13:15 GMT

    Watson has modelled himself into a T20 cricketer of value, heading the general direction in which Australian cricket is heading - towards the money and popularity. End of test cricket has been progressively signalled by the Aussie cricketers. And yes, the Indian bowling attack is pathetic. Anybody can thrash it not just watson. Test this guy with fast short pitched stuff and he'll be exposed and out in no time.Wonder whynobody including SA have tried it so far.

  • shibuvin on September 30, 2012, 12:51 GMT

    Complete Cricketer!!! Man of the last four matches he played including today's!!!!!

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on September 30, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    Almost a complete Aussie cricketer - having lost the Ashes a few thousand times!

  • Meety on September 30, 2012, 11:21 GMT

    @ Greatest_Game on (September 30 2012, 08:21 AM GMT) "And interestingly, Kallis has a T20I batting ave of 38.47, 8 runs higher than Watson's 30.86" which is INTERESTINGLY the opposite case on bowling averages, you also fail to mention Watto's Strike Rate - that's rather "myopic"!

  • dummy4fb on September 30, 2012, 8:23 GMT

    Old saying : Do not count your chickens before they are hatched. Another old saying: It's never over till the fat lady sings. Words of caution to George Bailey, before branding any cricketer as "complete". This tournament is far from over !!!

  • Greatest_Game on September 30, 2012, 8:21 GMT

    Watson's highest Test all-rounder rating - 394. Kallis - 616! Watsons highest ODI all-rounder rating - 433. Kallis - 506! Watson's highest T20I all-rounder rating - 502. Kallis - 249. That tells you pretty much all you need to know. Watson is brilliant in the 20 over format. He's good in the ODI format. But in Test cricket, the most demanding form of the game, where mental and physical skill, endurance and fortitude are tested, Watson is a pygmy next to Kallis. And interestingly, Kallis has a T20I batting ave of 38.47, 8 runs higher than Watson's 30.86. RandyOz - we know you are myopic but to mistake Watson for the best all-rounder in cricket is really just downright embarrassing.

  • dummy4fb on September 30, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    Not play him. That would be the most effective way of utilizing albie.

  • 777aditya on September 30, 2012, 5:12 GMT

    Is it?! What should he do to become a complete cricketer then Mr. Bailey? Might I add the fact that your opinion hardly counts - you are nothing but a forgettable chapter in Australian cricket.

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