ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

The invaluable Mr Watson

An analysis of how much Shane Watson has meant to Australia in all three forms of the game in the last four years

S Rajesh

October 19, 2012

Comments: 25 | Text size: A | A

Shane Watson goes big over the on side, Australia v India, World T20 2012, Super Eights, Colombo, September, 28, 2012
With bat and with ball, Shane Watson has been in stunning form, no matter what the format © AFP
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Just one game into the Sydney Sixers' Champions League Twenty20 campaign in South Africa, Cricket Australia announced that Shane Watson would quit the competition early and return home after a couple more matches. It was a move intended to give him more time to prepare for the vital Test series against South Africa later this season, a win in which will once again give Australia the No. 1 Test ranking. The decision drew angry reactions from the Sixers, but given Watson's form with both bat and ball, it's understandable that Cricket Australia wanted him in the best possible shape for a crucial series. Michael Clarke quickly reminded the world that Australia thrashed India 4-0 without Watson, but even so a fully fit and in-form Watson could significantly increase Australia's chances of recovering their No. 1 ranking this summer.

Since he hit his stride as a top-class international allrounder in all formats since 2009, Watson's stats have been staggering, across Tests, ODIs and T20 internationals, with both bat and ball. In these four years, Watson the batsman has scored 6330 international runs across formats at an average of more than 41, and taken 162 wickets at 25.15. During this period, he is the only player to have scored 5000 or more runs and taken 150-plus wickets in international cricket. No other player has even managed 4000 runs and 100 wickets, while only three others have achieved the double of 3000-plus runs and 75-plus wickets.

Moreover, those runs and wickets have usually had a significant impact on the game: in the 142 international matches he has played, Watson has been named Man of the Match 20 times, which is the highest for any player during this period. Eight of those awards have come in the 33 T20 internationals he has played, an average of one every four games, while his rate in ODIs is one award every eight matches. And this is in international games alone; in the IPL he has seven more awards in 39 matches for Rajasthan Royals.

Most MoMs in international matches since Jan 2009
Player Matches Awards
Shane Watson 142 20 (2T, 10ODI, 8T20I)
Tillakaratne Dilshan 162 18 (3T, 11ODI, 4T20I)
Shahid Afridi 123 16 (11ODI, 5 T20I)
Virat Kohli 111 15 (1T, 12ODI, 2T20I)
Kumar Sangakkara 166 14 (6T, 6ODI, 2T20I)
Michael Hussey 157 13 (4T, 6ODI, 3T20I)
Mahela Jayawardene 161 12 (2T, 4ODI, 6T20I)
Mohammad Hafeez 108 12 (1T, 7ODI, 4T20I)
Shakib Al Hasan 101 12 (3T, 9ODI)

Watson's contributions in the shorter forms of the game stand out in the table below. In both ODIs and T20 internationals, he scores around 18-20% of the team's bat runs (excluding the runs scored in extras) and takes around 15% of the bowler wickets (excluding run-outs). In Tests, his contribution with the bat comes down to 14.25%, while his wickets percentage drops to 10.46, which isn't surprising given that he averages less than two wickets per Test.

Shane Watson in Tests, ODIs and T20Is since Jan 2009
  Matches Runs Ave/ SR 100s/ 50s % team runs Wkts Ave/ ER % team wkts
In Tests 27 2071 42.26/ 51.76 2/ 17 14.25% 45 26.84/ 2.87 10.46%
In ODIs 82 3300 44.59/ 90.98 5/ 21 17.83% 85 26.15/ 4.80 14.03%
In T20Is 33 959 30.93/ 150.07 0/ 10 20.83% 32 20.12/ 7.08 15.53%

In all formats, Watson has made healthy contributions with both bat and ball. In T20 internationals, he is one of only four players to score more than 500 runs and take 20-plus wickets. Among those four, his batting stats are easily the best: he averages more than 30, and has an outstanding strike rate of 150 - the combination of high average and strike rate is one that very few batsmen have achieved in this format.

In terms of percentage contributions too, Watson's stats compare favourably with the others: Shahid Afridi has contributed 11.51% of the runs and 16.29% of the wickets for Pakistan; the corresponding percentages for Mohammad Hafeez are 15.56 and 12.89, while for Dwayne Bravo they are 16.17 and 15.33%.

Jacques Kallis is among the prominent names missing from this list, and that's because he has taken only 12 wickets in 22 T20 international matches during this period. With the bat, though, he has scored 627 runs at 39.18 and a strike rate of 120.11. Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan has 326 runs and 17 wickets from 16 matches.

Players with 500+ runs and 20+ wickets in T20Is since Jan 2009
Player Matches Runs Ave/ SR 50s Overs Wickets Ave/ ER
Shane Watson 33 959 30.93/ 150.07 10 90.50 32 20.12/ 7.08
Shahid Afridi 41 636 18.17/ 137.96 4 153.2 43 22.34/ 6.26
Mohammad Hafeez 31 629 21.68/ 106.07 2 86.2 25 21.80/ 6.31
Dwayne Bravo 24 530 31.17/ 126.19 3 59.4 21 23.52/ 8.27

In ODIs, there's only one other player who has achieved the double of 2000 or more runs and 50-plus wickets in matches since the beginning of 2009. Shakib and Watson have pretty similar numbers in terms of averages, strike rates and economy rates in both batting and bowling. Shakib the bowler, though, has been pressed into service far more often than Australia have used Watson's bowling skills: despite playing 12 more games, Watson has bowled 159 fewer overs.

While both Watson and Shakib have played a significant number of matches during this period, Kallis has played just 38, in which he has taken 26 wickets and scored 1627 runs. Bravo, meanwhile, has 41 wickets and 874 runs from 41 matches.

Players with 2000+ runs and 50+ wickets in ODIs since Jan 2009
Player Matches Runs Ave/ SR 100s/ 50s Overs Wickets Ave/ ER
Shane Watson 82 3300 44.59/ 90.98 5/ 21 462.5 85 26.15/ 4.80
Shakib Al Hasan 70 2259 38.94/ 86.38 3/ 17 621.3 103 26.13/ 4.33

With a fairly conservative 1500 runs and 30 wickets cut-off in Tests, Watson still has only one other player for company - New Zealand's Daniel Vettori. Kallis misses the wickets cut-off by just one, but the fact that he has taken 29 wickets in 28 Tests during this period (average 46.89, strike rate 97.2) is an indication of the reduced amount of bowling he has been doing in Tests recently. Shakib misses out on the runs cut-off because of lack of opportunities: he has played only 15 Tests during this period, in which he has scored 1120 runs at 40.

Overall, though, it's clear that Watson has been the one consistent performer - with a substantial body of work - in all three formats of the game, with both bat and ball, over these last four years. Little wonder, then, that Cricket Australia is taking the utmost care to ensure that he is fit and ready for Test-match cricket come November 9.

Players with 1500+ runs and 30+ wickets in Tests since Jan 2009
Player Matches Runs Average 100s/ 50s Wickets Average Strike rate
Shane Watson 27 2071 42.26 2/ 17 45 26.84 56.0
Daniel Vettori 23 1516 37.90 4/ 5 74 39.55 95.8

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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Comments: 25 
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Posted by Anthony on (October 22, 2012, 18:02 GMT)

But even as an Australian, there is still something about Shane the irritates the hell out of me!

Posted by Shipu on (October 22, 2012, 13:13 GMT)

Shakib and Shane are the best performing all-rounders currently but they are nowhere near Kallis overall. Shane has been a great asset for the Australian team but he has so far not liven up in Test Cricket as compared to the other forms.

Posted by Sami on (October 22, 2012, 10:36 GMT)

Seriously can't believe many are rating Shane Watson as the worlds best all-rounder today even though he's not 1 in the current all-rounder rankings in ODIs and Tests. According to stats in the past 2 years in Test Cricket, Shakib in just 12 tests averages more than Shane Watson who played 20 in that time 8 more than Shakib with the bat and and has taken far more wickets than Shane which is why Shakib is Number 1 in ODIs and Tests. None of these players can be compared with Kallis but in terms of today recent performances and when I mean recent past 2 years not 4 because 4 is a long time, Shakib is just miles ahead with bat and ball together. He's not Number 1 in T20s because Bangladesh hardly even play enough T20s and if they did then Shakib would've easily been Number 1 in that format and his 84 against Pakistan in World T20 was proof. Shane Watson is one of the top performing all-rounders in the world no doubt about that but certainly not the best.

Posted by Sami on (October 22, 2012, 10:35 GMT)

Shakib al Hasan is better.

Posted by Neuen on (October 22, 2012, 2:45 GMT)

Any claiming Watson to be better than Kallis must go get his head examined. Cherry Picking stats by using from a xxxxx year or xxxxx wickets to make your theory sounds better does not proof anything. It simple Watson 37avg in Test vs Kallis 50. Kallis is not a strike bowler why you look at his strike rate? Have a look at picking up vital wickets at vital times and please leave klapit T20 out of this as no one but India give s damn about it.

Posted by Andrew on (October 21, 2012, 2:25 GMT)

@peterhrt on (October 19 2012, 20:45 PM GMT) - what would make your analysis better (IMO) is if you multiplied the batting average by the S/Rate then divided by the bowling ave. @landl47/HatsforBats - I think over the last 3 years it is obious that Watto has stamped himself as the best short form allrounder in the game, in particularly T20. In Tests, he is historically BASED purely on AVERAGES, as one of the best allrounders to have played the game. In Oz, our greatest allrounder is KR Miller who's batting & bowling averages were 37 & 23 respectively, whereas Watto is 38 & 29. A superficial glance would say, Miller is only marginally better. That said, there is no way Miller is only a BIT better than Watto. Watto doesn't bowl enough - he averages only 1.5 wickets a match - Miller about TWICE as many at 3. Miller's FC stats for batting is superior to Watto too. I rate Watto's bowling as superior to Kallis, S/Rates & averages can support that.

Posted by kieran on (October 20, 2012, 23:40 GMT)

@ landl47, there is no comparing Kallis & Watson as batsmen, but in the period noted Watson is the far superior bowler. With an average nearer 50 & SR near 100 (inferior to North, Duminy, & Dilshan) Kallis is a part-timer not an all-rounder. No one has matched Watson in tests, 'invaluable' is fair enough, and yes he definitely needs to be in the middle order.

Posted by John on (October 20, 2012, 12:46 GMT)

@HatsforBats: Yes, Watson's numbers as a test allrounder are very useful, but not 'invaluable'. He should be batting at #6 and taking a full role as a 3rd or 4th seamer. The trouble is, he's batting as an opener or #3, and when he puts in a lot of work as a bowler he either loses his effectiveness as a batsman or he breaks down. He is not, with great respect to him, in the same league as Kallis as a batting/seam bowling allrounder. The point of this article was to say that Watson's figures are 'staggering', to quote the article. Yes, they are, but it's in the short formats that he is at his best. His test record is good, but not staggering.

Posted by Hadi on (October 20, 2012, 12:46 GMT)

Why are the names of the cricket players not hyperllnks in the article, I mean I wanted to see the individual records of the players mentioned on their profile but cannot do that. Cricinfo, please make the names of the players appearing in the article as hyperlinks, if its too hard, than ill try the old fashioned way of searching :) Cheers

Posted by Tushar on (October 20, 2012, 10:19 GMT)

@Englishcricket: "nowhere near consistent with the bat like SHAHID AFRIDI" ???? You don't live on mars, do you???? Even a guy who doesnt know the meaning of cricket will never say afridi's batting is consistent...!!!!

Posted by kieran on (October 20, 2012, 5:08 GMT)

@ landl47, Watson has always been earmarked and selected as an all rounder whatever the format. His results over the last 3 years show that the selectors faith is being repaid handsomely. Perhaps you mean as a test opener? Most people including myself believe he would be better placed lower in the order. Any team in the world would love a #5 or 6 putting up those numbers.

Posted by Alex on (October 19, 2012, 20:58 GMT)

Watson should be captain of Australia not Michael clarke.

Posted by Peter on (October 19, 2012, 20:45 GMT)

A case can be made for regarding Watson as the best-ever ODI all-rounder. Using the old method of dividing batting average by bowling average, with a qualification of 100 wickets, the leaders are: Watson 1.43, Kallis 1.42, Klusener 1.37, Flintoff 1.31, Viv Richards 1.31, Imran Khan 1.25 and Shakib Al Hasan 1.23. Within this group, Kallis boasts comfortably the highest aggregates, but his batting Strike Rate is only 72 compared with the 88 of Watson, 89 of Klusener and 90 of the phenomenal Richards in a much slower-scoring era. Of these 7 all-rounders, Flintoff has the best bowling average (24) as well as a healthy batting SR of 88. One sometimes forgets what an outstanding one-day cricketer he was. As a matchwinner with both bat and ball Flintoff is probably Watson's nearest rival, and the Englishman was certainly a better fielder. But Watson's ability to bat 50 overs at a cracking rate is crucial. As are his lethal changes of pace from a deceptively laboured run-up.

Posted by Rachit on (October 19, 2012, 18:47 GMT)

Great numbers for Watson. For me what's more telling about this article is how impressive Shakib has been over the last 4-5 years! He misses out mostly due to lack of opportunities which is pretty unfortunate.

Posted by Mohammed on (October 19, 2012, 12:46 GMT)

Watson has been my favourite for a long time now... Its also nice to see Shakib in the list though he doesnt get the credit he deserves!!!

Posted by John on (October 19, 2012, 12:39 GMT)

Sorry, but this article is fundamentally flawed. Effectiveness in the short formats is not based on how many wickets are taken, but by what economy rate has been achieved by the bowler. A bowler who takes 0-25 in ten overs in an ODI or 0-15 in 4 in a T20 has had a better game than one who takes 2-58 or 3-39 respectively. Kallis in T20s has an economy rate of 7.23- better than Bravo and comparable with Watson. He has almost exactly the same number of runs as Hafeez, in fewer matches and at a higher strike rate, and although Afridi scores fast while he is in, he doesn't make enough runs to qualify as an allrounder in T20. Watson does stand out as a performer in the shorter formats, but not in test cricket and especially not as a test batsman. Meety's right about what he needs to do- whether at 31 he can stay fit enough ever to do it is another matter.

Posted by Joe on (October 19, 2012, 11:36 GMT)

Unfortunately England best is currently Stuart Broad which I'm sorry to say is definitely not an all rounder. He just happens to bat a bit like Darren Sammy and is nowhere near consistent with the bat like Afridi. I think to be classified as an all rounder, you have to making regular 50s and test 100s plus make a contribution with the ball doesn't have to be 5 or 10 wicket hauls.

Posted by Samar on (October 19, 2012, 11:27 GMT)

No doubt Watto is the best performing all-rounder at the moment .. Second to it is Shakib .. Both are great players..

Posted by Ejaz on (October 19, 2012, 10:33 GMT)

This article also indicates that how important Shakib and Shahid Afridi are for their respective teams.

Posted by Daniel on (October 19, 2012, 8:15 GMT)

Watson has been my favourite player for awhile now.

Posted by arafat on (October 19, 2012, 7:24 GMT)

@QuintinDavis Vettori had more 100s..yes, but Watson had more 90s!!

Posted by Quintin on (October 19, 2012, 6:49 GMT)

No doubt he is a dangerous player in all forms, particularly in the shorter formats. What is telling for me is that Vettori has more Test Hundreds than him in the same period. Watson only has 2. For me, that is why he is a good player but not a great player. I still rate those who can do it at Test level year in and year out, much much higher than someone like him.

Posted by Peter on (October 19, 2012, 5:45 GMT)

Where are all the Watson knockers (especially from Australia) now? I still don't think he should be opening though, but these figures are impressive.

Posted by Andrew on (October 19, 2012, 4:32 GMT)

Says a fair bit about the people that knock Watto. The big thing he MUST change for his future legacy, is his test batting average. Needs to get it up towards 50, with a better conversions of 50s to 100!

Posted by sandeep on (October 19, 2012, 4:05 GMT)

Why no kallis in that list ?.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

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