Champions Trophy heroics, and a boundary-laden assault in Dhaka
The 2009 Champions Trophy didn't exactly start well for Shane Watson, who made ducks in Australia's first two matches against West Indies and India. But come the semi-final, he found his touch against England. Set 258 for victory, Australia lost Tim Paine in the second over but lost no more wickets as Watson and Ricky Ponting completed the chase on their own. It wasn't easy early on for Watson, who had to work hard to rotate the strike, but once he got going he was unstoppable. He finished with an unbeaten 136 from 132 balls and led Australia to the tournament final.
And Watson carried that momentum into the final. He started the tournament with a pair of ducks and finished it with a pair of centuries. Chasing 201 to lift the Champions Trophy, Australia made a shaky start and were 6 for 2 when Paine and Ponting both departed early. But Watson steered the innings safely from there, with the help of Cameron White and James Hopes. Watson finished the match with consecutive sixes off Jeetan Patel, the last one also bringing up his century from his 129th delivery. Ricky Ponting was Player of the Tournament, but Watson was the reason Australia won the Champions Trophy.
The highest ODI score by an Australian, Watson's unbeaten 185 against Bangladesh will also go down as his highest score in international cricket. "It's just one of those days where everything that you try comes out of the middle of the bat, a mis-hit goes into the gap or you get dropped," Watson said after the match. He also wanted to run as little as possible in the hot and humid conditions, and struck 15 fours and 15 sixes, a remarkable tally that meant 150 of his 185 runs had come in boundaries. Just as remarkable was that Australia were only chasing 230; Watson nearly got them on his own. It remains the highest score in the second innings of an ODI.
Consider this entry representative of Watson through the entire World T20 of 2012. On his muscular shoulders he carried Australia through the group stage, top scoring in all of their first four games. In this match against South Africa, Australia were set 147 for victory and Watson struck 70 from 47 deliveries; he was out with 38 runs still needed but had done enough to set up the win. That win proved adequate to see Australia into the semi-finals, where they lost to the eventual champions West Indies. But Watson was named Player of the Tournament.
For a number of reasons this was an innings of note. Captain Aaron Finch was injured and several of Australia's key men had already flown to New Zealand to prepare for a Test series, so Watson was asked to captain the T20 side for the first time. Having batted down the order earlier in the series, he moved back up to open and struck an unbeaten 124 from 71 deliveries, including ten fours and six sixes. It was the highest score by a T20 international captain and the second highest score in all of T20 internationals, as well as the second hundred by an Australian. It wasn't Watson's fault that Australia's total of 197 proved insufficient.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale