Australia v England, 1st semi-final, ICC Champions Trophy, Centurion

It all comes together for Watson

Osman Samiuddin in Centurion

October 3, 2009

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An airborne Shane Watson guides the ball to third man, Australia v England, 1st semi-final, Champions Trophy, Centurion Park, October 2, 2009
Shane Watson: "I've been lucky to be part of some big games through my career ... learning how to deal with situations and not to get too overawed like I have previously © Getty Images
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Two ducks is not a great way to start a tournament but such is the belief people have in Shane Watson's skills, it wasn't seen as a major concern. Certainly Ricky Ponting wasn't too worried about: a couple of good balls first up any international opener is to expect, was the gist of it. He will come good. And he did, with a muscular third ODI hundred to seal Australia's spot in the ICC Champions Trophy final. Two key middle-order wickets earlier in the day, continuing a rich vein of bowling form, completed an outstanding all-round performance.

Watson is Australia's highest wicket-taker and second-highest run-scorer at the tournament now, and he said after his Man-of-the-Match performance that success with his bowling kept him going despite the start he made with his batting. "It wasn't a great start at all batting-wise, but I felt my bowling had been pretty good through the tournament and progressing really well," he said.

"It was good to get going today. Ricky helped me a lot during the middle periods when I was finding my feet when the slower bowlers came on. It's just great to be able to bring it home, really nice when you have days when everything comes off, when it all comes together."

Watson started bowling again during the Ashes after recovering from a back complaint that had prevented him from doing so, but his form then was rusty. It has since picked up and through the Champions Trophy he has been an important option in the middle overs for Australia, mixing cutters with useful changes in pace and lines.

"The thing that has kept me going has been my bowling through the tournament. I've been really happy with its progression from the Ashes where I was coming back to bowling from a back injury. For that to come together has kept me going after missing out with the bat and that is the greatest thing about being an allrounder: it keeps you going, how you know things will come together."

Watson exploded during the second half of his innings, eventually launching a brutal assault on Paul Collingwood to close out the game with a 23-run over that included three sixes. "I've been lucky to be part of some big games through my career, not so much playing a big part in them but learning how to deal with situations and not to get too overawed like I have previously. So it was very nice to put it together, especially with the bat, chasing. I've been hoping to get a hundred from Ashes and never really got it."

Ponting was there to guide him through the chase in regal fashion, leading the way at first, before sitting back and watching Watson cut loose. "It was great for Shane to play way he did with bat and ball tonight," Ponting said. "I think he's learnt a lot about himself, about his own game tonight. It wasn't easy early on. We didn't get a lot of boundaries, particularly Shane.

"I got off to a flying start but he had to play second fiddle for a while and then as innings went on, I was just trying to get singles and he was hitting all the boundaries. When he gets in and gets set, he really dominates and to do it after bowling eight or nine overs is a really good thing for him to get through."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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