Christian Ryan
Writer based in Melbourne. Author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket

Cry, the unloved cricketer

The general public antipathy for Shane Watson may have more than a little to do with the ancient, hazy balance between the team and the individual

Christian Ryan

June 25, 2010

Comments: 55 | Text size: A | A

The Allan Border Medal winner Shane Watson with Allan Border, Melbourne, February 15, 2010
Watson has made stunningly little progress in burrowing a place in people's hearts © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Shane Watson | Simon Katich | Bruce Laird
Teams: Australia

Success matters a lot in the Australian cricket culture and no Australian cricketer right now, no matter how you twist the mathematics, is more successful than Shane Watson. Yet a surprising number of cricket conversations these days proceed as follows. "Can't quite put my finger on it," some well-meaning fellow will bash out, his eyes crinkling in sympathy and bafflement. The next five words come tripping off the tongue like a Boomtown Rats anthem. "I don't like Shane Watson."

And it is a little baffling. Admittedly this is an odd sort of cricketer: at heart, a middle-order batsman who bowls a lot, who has transformed himself into a top-of-the-order batsman who bowls a bit because the team had a vacancy for just such a Frankenstein.

Odder than that, though, is this: Shane cries. When his curtain-rod hamstrings went ping before the 2006-07 Ashes series, Shane's tears kissed the green grass in fat, dewy drops. When he won the Allan Border Medal last summer he sounded like he might choke on them. AB clapped him three times on the back and yanked the ribbon roughly round his neck, and it took all of Shane's froggy might to croak out the words "It's been an amazing ride".

In despair and delight, he weeps and he weeps. It happened again the other day, when he married his TV sports-reading sweetheart at a rich ad man's coastal hideaway, where the C-list hobnobbers and assorted crickerati swayed to Louis Armstrong and the emotional couple vowed to be "partners in crime until the end of time", words they'd penned themselves. "Tears," reported Woman's Day, "welled in the pair's eyes."

It used to be that any cricketer who cried faced gleeful ridicule: especially an Australian cricketer, especially if he happened to be Australian cricket captain. Yet Shane's captain, Ricky Ponting, looked fit to burst out blubbering himself on AB Medal night, so unabashedly proud was he of his blue-eyed marvel. In Ponting, Shane has his most bulldog supporter. In this Australian team, Shane's emotions are not merely tolerated but admired. For the rest of us, this should be a symbol of little boys growing up and a cause for rejoicing. Alas, among the rest of us, admiration for Shane runs not so deep, and you don't need to resort to Google - to the Shane Watson Is A Tool, Tosser and Douchebag societies on Facebook, to the myriad numbskull bleatings about Shane's sexual, hair-product and coffee preferences - to realise it.

That Shane may or may not like lattes is of interest chiefly to shallow idiots. The real issue is this: the ancient, hazy balance between the team and the individual.

In cricket, the team's the thing. This gets pumped into children at their first schoolyard net and ad nauseam ever after. Yet the team's total is only arrived at once you have totted up 11 individual totals. And if your own total is not up to scratch, pretty soon you shall be one individual who has nothing to do with the team. For anyone in such tenuous employment circumstances - even if you're the least self-interested cricketer on the planet, even if you're Keith Miller - the team cannot truly be the only thing. But ideally it should be the main thing. If it's not, you should wear enough fake smiles and sufficiently deadpan a demeanour that people assume that it is.

When Shane Watson plays cricket - when he plays cricket badly, in particular - the hazy balance comes sharply into focus. During the World Twenty20 final against England, Shane looked like he might cry four times: upon getting out third ball of the match; while rubbing his brow after his fifth and sixth deliveries went for four; as he forlornly fetched his cap after copping a 16-run second-over pizzling; and when the losing crunch past midwicket happened off his bowling. All the while he had about him an air of spitting, cursing, slightly stressed-out gormlessness.

Was he fretting about the team's deep doo-doo? Or about himself and his future prospects and the beastly world?

Not that Shane need fret over his job security. Few batsmen anywhere can pummel bad bowling as matter-of-factly as Shane did last summer, trotting one step forward and driving anything remotely overpitched in an arc between cover and mid-on. But, then, last summer, when Australia somewhat unconvincingly saw off the world's second-worst and fourth-worst Test nations, was what Malcolm Knox has rightly dubbed The Summer of Our Kidding Ourselves. And in shoring up a spot in the team, Shane made stunningly little progress in burrowing a place in people's hearts.

His wee gulps and swallows on Allan Border Medal night had a touching vulnerability to them. Joylessness was a hallmark of his other public utterances. Every microphone up his buttonhole was like a new audition for a deodorant commercial, another chance to come up smelling like roses. Maybe such transparent self-interest was not unprecedented among cricketers; certainly it was gobsmacking.

All the while he had about him an air of spitting, cursing, slightly stressed-out gormlessness

Four times in 31 days, from December 6 to January 5, he amassed Test scores of between 89 and 97. Yet rather than thinking to himself what a wonderful world it was, Shane seemed to have Neil, not Louis, Armstrong on the brain - as if the nineties were a moonscape mankind had never tiptoed across before.

In Adelaide he went to bed 96 not out. He "slept very ordinarily" and "kept thinking about the four runs I needed". The traditional self-effacing mumble about being happy for the team and just glad to do his bit got a not very big airing.

Hours of sleeplessness ticked by, the sun came up and still the "childhood dream of getting a Test match hundred" filled his every thought.

Then - "that's what engulfed me". Second ball of the morning pitched short. "I thought, here it is." Oh no, it wasn't.

In Melbourne, run out for 93, Shane made no secret of his disinclination to leave or his fury with batting partner Simon Katich. A friend text messaged: "When Peter Sleep got out for 90 at the G in '87 I was sad. When Watto got out today I was delighted, absolutely delighted." No sorrow for Shane, then. No consoling hug, either, for Katich - no "Mate, no hard feelings, not your fault, the team's the thing." Thirty minutes after stumps, it was reported, Shane and Katich had still not spoken to one another.

Here was a soap opera to lead every silly season news bulletin. The 30th anniversary, almost to the day, of another Test ninety was overlooked. Overlooked is probably the way humble Bruce Laird likes it. On his first day of Test cricket Laird survived five hours, two blows to his right thumb and four bullies: Croft, Holding, Garner and Roberts. Eventually it got dark, too dark for cricket, but new boys in those days were supposed to be not heard, and certainly not heard squealing for light meters. The inevitable happened. Laird, on 92, played, almost definitely missed and the umpire - it was dark - gave him out caught behind. One ball later play was called off. Laird did not grizzle, apportion blame or overuse the word "I". "I thought about an appeal against the light, but thought I was hitting the ball well enough to get through," was all he'd say.

You could not invent a more exact opposite of Shane Watson than "Stumpy" Laird. Craggy, hairy lipped, unmuscular, unwaxed, selfless and beloved by all, Laird would spend most of his time batting on the back foot. He married no sports-reading beauty. He made no Test hundred.

Shane has hit one, and the occasional flash of gratitude or good grace might make him a bit more likeable. It is a fine thing that Shane does not pretend to be some person he's not. It will be interesting to see whether Australians ever warm to the person he is.

Christian Ryan is a writer based in Melbourne. He is the author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket

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Posted by DamieninFrance on (June 28, 2010, 14:56 GMT)

Great, thought-provoking article, Christian. Well Done! I've been a supporter of Watto for years. As a Queenslander by birth, I used to blame the selectors for not picking him for Qld, then Aus in years gone by. It always surprised me when I'd talk to others about my hope that he performed well, only to find that I was the only one who felt that way. I have to say that I think you've hit the reasons right on the head. The shame is that Watson is expressing what others might merely be thinking. Certainly, I don't enjoy hearing his more self-centred expressions, but can you berate him for being honest? As others have expressed, how damn boring is it to hear the well-worn platitudes that are almost meaningless these days? What is the point of holding a press-conference if there's no news to report? I'd prefer that Shane was more modest, but I'll continue to follow his career with renewed enthusiasm knowing that his deeds are even more profound given his lack of support at home.

Posted by russellp on (June 28, 2010, 13:41 GMT)

The cricket followers' dislike of Shane Watson has little to do with his cricket. It is all about his demeanour- and he comes across as sneering, arrogant and charmless often in the manner of a callous playground antagonist. The emotions that he generates in the cricket follower are simply due to observing these traits.

Posted by ed.dixon on (June 28, 2010, 12:23 GMT)

Thanks for the article. Last week I had sent a question in to 'Ask Steven' on this very website under the heading 'Why does everyone hate Shane Watson'. I wans't expecting such a detailed response though!

Posted by CSpiers on (June 28, 2010, 1:42 GMT)

btw darren-oz, saying that Haddin and Symonds are lacking in merit is ridiculous and offensive. Haddin is a great wicketkeeper and a good batsman, and it was Symonds truely upsetting off field incidents that tarnished him, not his skill or performances, you only have to look at his statistics to see that.

Posted by CSpiers on (June 28, 2010, 1:39 GMT)

personally i couldnt car less about his personality or what he does off the field. A long he goes out and plays those wonderful cover drives and cut shots I know he's capable of, I'll watch him all day. His technique is effortless and natural, something i can say many players lack. This article is further flaming a situation that has no place in a true cricket supporters mind.

Posted by ygkd on (June 26, 2010, 22:49 GMT)

When Watson was just another young bloke with unfulfilled potential and a cricketing life that seemed to be lived in the gym and, subsequently, on the trainer's couch, his tribulations could give rise to some sympathy. However, things change and not always for the better. Contrast today with 19 years ago and the Aus tour of the Caribbean when the WAGS on the footage at the airport were as inconspicuous as the runs from the Aus tail that series. As for the Allan Border Medal, it doesn't do service to AB - a truly great, if allegedly sometimes grumpy, cricketer.

Posted by Pacelover on (June 26, 2010, 19:19 GMT)

The 'thing about Watto' is his lack of respect for opponents (certainly displayed on pitch) Celebrating right in Chris Gayles face when he got him out, He did a similar thing on his ODI debut against Jayasuria (who had just blasted 122). He and Mitchell Johnson have a severe lack of humility.

Posted by Dodith on (June 26, 2010, 13:27 GMT)

Shane Watson's a real brat!! No one in the game gets so violent and nasty. His talent is un-questionable. I'd definately, always have him on my team, I just wouldn't ever like him. One of the first things I respect Aussies for, disliking him!

Posted by Arachnodouche on (June 26, 2010, 11:29 GMT)

The current Aussie team is too full of nancyboys for my taste. I love the talent on display of course but there's no harkback to a Sergio Leone movie in there anymore. Didn't effete Michael Clarke rat out on his so-called best buddy Symonds after one of his drunk escapades? Don't get me wrong; players have to perform and all that shpiel but the ouster of Andrew Symonds was the last nail in the coffin of Aussie cricket's masculinity.

Posted by conzo on (June 26, 2010, 11:11 GMT)

This article is a pile of rubbish!!!!! Watson is a great player and is playing better than any other player at the moment.

Posted by darren-oz on (June 26, 2010, 11:00 GMT)

Watson is just the latest example of the cancer that is entrenched in selecting teams for Australia: marketabilty over merit. Clarke, Symonds, Watson, Haddin: all playing or played for Australia solely on the basis of being favourites with PBL/Channel 9 and especially the verbally incontinent beige jacket. All petulent spoilt brats, all given red carpet treatment; all undeserving of their place. Contrasted starkely with the hatchet job pulled on Brad Hodge. Yes, there is a lot to dislike about Shane Watson, but there is also a lot to dislike about this current generation Australian XI

Posted by BillyCC on (June 26, 2010, 5:33 GMT)

kurtrudder is right in that you have to be Australian to understand the public perception around Shane Watson. Not only that, but they have to be the common Australian. If people are struggling with this concept, the best way to explain it this: that common Australians always loved Boonie and Lillee. They like fighters like Border. They like likeable fellows like Mark Taylor. They like a bit of bogan, like Warne. They like true greatness. Tendulkar is in this class. Australians have always struggled with sportsman having poor media personalities. Lleyton Hewitt and Shane Watson belong in this category. They struggle to be liked because the media has tainted them with a brush at an early age and told the public that they do not fit any of the categories above about why the public should like them. It is very hard to arrest that perception. The author of this article is only half right. He has identified some correct public perception but struggles to get to the cause.

Posted by Hammond on (June 26, 2010, 5:32 GMT)

I am really sad you put the name of Keith Miller in this article. Miller never took himself or cricket too seriously- famously saying about test cricket "Pressure is a Messerschmitt up your a*** - cricket is just a sport".

It's not hard to dislike Watson. The only think bigger than his mouth is the size of his head. To many of us he just like Ponting- classically UN-Australian.

Posted by kurtrudder on (June 26, 2010, 3:36 GMT)

Part of this is something that only Australians will relate to and understand. In some ways its very similar to the way Damien Martyn polarised Australian fans for his entire career even when he was peeling off centuries and helping us win back the Border/Gavasker trophy in India 2004. Bottom line is it has nothing to do with cricketing ability. I'm not sure I agree with the sentiments of the author that its a selfishness that makes Watson unpopular because I've seen enough of the same from Ponting but he appeals to the common man and Watto doesn't. Ponting has enough bogan in him to keep on the right side of the average aussie. Watto is not like them, he was a young prodigy, he is a good looking young man and gets the beautiful girl. I have no doubt he is a team man through and through despite the authors sound-bite like observations. Like Marto, its because he does not fit the accepted norm for their aussie cricketer that the average fan cannot relate so they shun him instead.

Posted by LawrieCAdelaide on (June 26, 2010, 2:50 GMT)

I think you are spot on Christian. He's changed states three times when it's suited, had a stack of chances to prove himself with bat and ball and I've never heard him thank the selectors for keeping faith in him after numerous injuries. He has had a lot of opportunities. You wrote a book called "Golden Boy" and I think Volume II could easily be a good title for a story about Watson. I couldn't give a stuff about his emotions or the Womans Day wedding. But what I would say is that his carry on towards a skipper of a team (Gayle - WI) last summer in Perth gave many of us who are starting to enjoying his play a reason to dislike him again. If a 14 year old lad did that in a school game you'd clip him in the ear! As for the runout with Katich, you read into that what you want but I liked the fact that Katich got stuck into Clarke after a Test in Sydney for wanting to leave celebrations early after a win - so I'd back SMK in the trenches ahead of SRW any day.

Posted by no_second_chance_for_batsman on (June 26, 2010, 1:14 GMT)

One needs to be compassionate to fellow human being. Whether he is a cricketer or not. I have hardly seen him smiling from heart OR wishing good from heart -- for a non-Australian cricketer. He gets upset very very fast. TALENT wise Shane watson has great talent. But he needs to seriously work on other aspects to improve his Image. Getting the guidance of a good Meditation teacher will be a start. Shane -- If there is a will, there are lots of ways to achieve it. Cheers, Kumar

Posted by Bytheway on (June 26, 2010, 1:00 GMT)

A poor, pointless article, better suited to the gutter press.

Posted by __PK on (June 26, 2010, 0:39 GMT)

Australians HAVE warmed to Watson, Christian. It's just you and your sad, cynical, envious, lonely and small circle of text acquaintances who haven't. Don't ever waste my time like this again.

Posted by   on (June 26, 2010, 0:32 GMT)

Pretty honest article that sums up how a lot of cricket fans in Aus feel about Watto. People have always felt he got an (undeserved) armchair ride by selectprs, having never proved anything and breaking down at every major tournament or series. No one can deny his ability now, he's arguably our best and most important batsman at the moment and since he's been able to swing the ball his bowling has improved out of sight. But the way he goes about his cricket tends to alienate people; his strut, that emotion that goes overboard at times, as evidenced by his horrible send-off to Gayle in the Aus summer. I don't reckon he's a bad bloke but I think his public performances aren't always going to endear him to fans.

Posted by E-Train on (June 25, 2010, 23:10 GMT)

Watson is derided as a cricketer for showing too much negative body language on the field. When he's dismissed it looks like the world's about to end. Every not out when he bowls is incomprehensible and leads to a spray at the umpire and not out batsman. And when he does get a wicket, well, his send off of Chris Gayle says all you need to. Apparently he's a great bloke and I respect his achievements as a bloody awesome player but until he can channel his heart on his sleeve attitude to more positive affirmation of self, he will fail to win the hearts and minds of the Australian cricket public.

Posted by stretch_jim on (June 25, 2010, 23:00 GMT)

what i hear in public opinion is that there are alot of ppl that dont like watto, and what ive found is its the ppl that watch cricket with a passing intrest are the ones bashing him, most ppl that love cricket respect what he can do and enjoy watching him do well. As for being a team player hes great, the players love him being in the side, and hes adjusted his batting to open and his bowling, well he used to try and bowl express and just hit a length, the teams got that so hes adjusted and now brings a completely different element to the attack. im just in awe of his talents

Posted by   on (June 25, 2010, 21:51 GMT)

I like Shane Watson!Along with Ponting, Clarke, Jayawardene and SRT he is the best batsmen to watch. Aggressive, stylish, and a useful bowler, i dont understand why people dont like him

Posted by Something_Witty on (June 25, 2010, 19:44 GMT)

"It used to be that any cricketer who cried faced gleeful ridicule: especially an Australian cricketer, especially if he happened to be Australian cricket captain." Another accusation in the article which is baseless and incorrect. Only those with absolutely no empathy at all would ridicule someone just for a show of emotion. Nobody I know of ridiculed Kim Hughes when he burst into tears on national TV announcing his resignation. This article really is in very poor taste, as well as being badly researched, totally irrelevant, and totally incorrect.

Posted by garyf on (June 25, 2010, 18:23 GMT)

I can't stand him either - and I've no rational reason why, so it's good to know (based on no apparent evidence) that I'm not the only one

Posted by tapishkushwaha on (June 25, 2010, 17:01 GMT)

Christian, its always going to be hard to back up an assesment of a players popularity on the basis of a few examples. There has been no recorded outrage against Watson nor has he ever been pulled up by match referees much. This article seems to be based on a general feeling rather than concrete evidence. Im not surprised you dont find support for your views here. Also as long as Watson gets runs and wickets and is not a disruptive influence on the team, hes very valuable.

Posted by Something_Witty on (June 25, 2010, 16:17 GMT)

"His batting is neither stylish nor efficient unlike many of his compatriots." Senthil, are you thinking of the same person? Watson has one of the most beatuiful, flowing techniques I've ever seen. It's certainly more stylish and efficient than the likes of Katich and Hussey (although I love watching them bat too). His test match bowling has also come on a long way. Now he's actually swinging the ball and concentrating on his lines and lengths rather than trying to hurl it down at high speed, he's a much improved bowler for it. I hope the author of this article actually reads the comments. Because it's quite clear from the number of people disagreeing with you that the "I hate Shane Watsoners" are very much a minority.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2010, 16:01 GMT)

What a ridiculous article! Watson was unpopular 2 years ago, but now everyone loves him. All your "points" about him being selfish seem like childish nit picking to me. He behaves no differently than other Australian player in the team. This article has come so far from left field, it actually seems kind of bizarre.

Posted by demon_bowler on (June 25, 2010, 15:29 GMT)

What an amazingly mean-spirited, low, petty-minded, grubby little article. The author is apparently aware of the irrationality of his dislike for Watson (which he projects onto the rest of the Australian public), yet clings to any weak and spurious argument to justify this delight. The sneering about the Watsons' wedding vows is particularly low.

I think the truth is that some Australian fans have been spoilt for so long with such superhuman cricketers that they find it hard to adjust to ordinary mortals now that their age of giants is over. Over here in England Watson would be admired for his wholehearted dedication and for his brave determination in coming back from injury. We're used to imperfect heroes over here.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2010, 14:12 GMT)

I am a big fan of Shane Watson. Although cricket is a team game, ultimately it boils down to individuals battling against each other, so if your skills aren't good enough to get the better of your counterpart from the other team, you are no good to the team. Also there should be no shame in admitting that each player plays for his own sake. Individual brilliance should always be valued more, because no player with only mediocre capabilities can be an asset to his team in the long run. The so called useful players(about whom it is said, he can bat a bit, bowl a bit) might help theri teams in a few games but can never shine over an extended period of time.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2010, 13:55 GMT)

The problem why Shane Watson does not come out likable is because of simple reasons. His batting is neither stylish nor efficient unlike many of his compatriots. His bowling is neither glamorous nor top draw. Yet he produces result so he comes out very unattractive. There is no calm in what he does but just goes on to do what he does. He is a bull dog not a gazelle or kangaroo that we expect to see in Australian cricketers. He does not make cricket followers drop their jaw. I neither like his batting or his bowling but I would have him in my team. There lies the dislike.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2010, 13:53 GMT)

That was kinda funny. I think you hit some pretty important points about the "individual sportsman" undergoing a change in cricket. But singling out Watson like that was not cool man. The mans an awesome cricketer and if he cries like a girl, well its up to him. I do agree with you though, cricket is a gentlemen's game and your emotions are best left for yourself to deal with although its not seen too often nowadays as most bowlers and batsmen are ready to blame stuff on a bad wicket, dropped catches, poor umpiring decisions etc. But dude ... Watson is a freeking awesome cricketer.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2010, 13:49 GMT)

Cricket is a team game built around individual performances, so I dont get it when a batseman is called selfish because he he was disapionted he didnt score more runs, him scoring runs dosnt hurt the team. Also i find it amusing when people say that he should be batting 6 when his last year has been the best from an aussie opener since the hayden/langer era

Posted by Pea_81 on (June 25, 2010, 13:40 GMT)

I was one that used to say that I didn't like Shane Watson. That was until I realised that it wasn't his fault that the selectors continued to pick him when there were others better than him to take the spot they gave him. It wasn't his fault when he underperformed as he was clearly not ready to play international cricket. And it certainly wasn't his fault when his injuries and poor results gave everyone the right to say "I told you so! This blokes rubbish and injury prone". Now its time to give Watson a break, he was selected too early (so were Hayden and Martyn), but now he certainly has a place in all international forms of cricket!!! Remember its not Watson's fault you don't like him, its the selectors. When you realise this you might actually grow to like him.

Posted by Munkeymomo on (June 25, 2010, 13:33 GMT)

Hmm, odd article, while at first hearing ghost stories come out of his mouth made me chuckle at this blonde beachboy, after watching the first IPL I was turned into a fan. Even watching him scoring plenty in the ashes I liked him. As ram5160 put it, Watto would make it into most international sides. Quality player.

Posted by mrgupta on (June 25, 2010, 12:44 GMT)

Well being an Indian i am very surprised after reading this article. How can no one like Watson? He is a good batsman, very effective bowler (Both in Test and ODI). To me he is a gifted player. We saw him a lot during IPL and cudnt stop praising him. I am his fan and he is the first player i look up in the Australian scorecard and I feel good when he does well for his team (Not against India though).

Posted by Aussieicon91 on (June 25, 2010, 11:47 GMT)

This bloke obviously has no idea that Watson has worked as hard as anybody to get where he is and has had every obstacle thrown at him and yet has come out of it all stronger. To judge someone's personality and label them a selfish player based on sledging (unless it's racist or personal) and their emotion to do well for their country is nothing short of disgraceful. Some people don't realise that once you step onto the pitch that it's a totally different ball game.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2010, 10:14 GMT)

when i first had a good look at what shane watson could do,it was during the 2006 icc champions trophy in india where he was partnering with gilchrist and holding his own,from that day onwards i knew he was going to be big,and i was proven to be 100% correct whn i picked him for my cric info fantasy team during the first ipl and he ended up winning the man of the tournament award. Hope he ends up getting the praise he deserves as australia hav been in great need for a bowling allrounder for ages.

Posted by madmadmadaxe on (June 25, 2010, 8:43 GMT)

Strange, i talk to a lot of people about cricket, a lot of the time.

I have yet to hear anyone not like Shane Watson. Everybody is rooting for him at the moment. "At least we've got Watto in the team" "Their not all bad, Watto's in there"

Stuff like that gets said. In the time he's been a regular I have lived heart of country and heart of the city as well. Same opinion in both - a very liked man and cricketer.

He's got a lot of fans out there who really admire his determination and the way he plays and who he is. My favourite player is Katich, nothing like Watoo, but I liek Watto very much.

Posted by Stixncc on (June 25, 2010, 8:32 GMT)

I was laughing the whole time reading this article thinking about me ol'mate Ben bishop. He has the one eyed watto lover I was the telling him how much i disliked him. I hope he reads this haha. Now my dislike with watto began way back in the day when the selecterskept giving him chances where his form and injury plagued-ness did not warrant such. Now that his cricket and body have come good, for now, it turns out he is a childish kid brain who jumps up and down and giggles like a schoolgirl when dismissing batsmen. As to his selfishness I agree with Schuldiner he is no KP but in a few years he maybe just as bad. My highlight of Wattos carrer, Boxing day test 2009. I was at mates BBq watching, as soon as he got to 90 I proposed a Sweeps for what he'd be dismissed for this time. 10 mins late hes out for 93. I didnt win I picked 96 but I laughed long and loud. Then when he treid to convince the umpires to give katich out instead just confirmed my opinion of this fool

Posted by   on (June 25, 2010, 8:25 GMT)

I sumtyms feel sorry 4 him.... wasnt he that QUICKIE who used 2 bowl over 140 km/h (faster than 90% of bowlers 2day) but now has 2 bowl in the mid 130's only coz of his injuries unfortunately....... he wud have been a perfect player hadn't injuries affected him, since he is an attackin batsman too.

Posted by daager on (June 25, 2010, 8:20 GMT)

As a South African this article was a bit of a surprise for me. I thought Watson was an injury prone coulda been, but he has been magnificent since reinventing himself as a opener and all credit to him. The interviews I have seen with him he comes across as a genuinely good guy. I think the fact that he openly was stressed about the four runs is great - I find it putrid when sportsmen mumble cliches about the "team" the whole time - what is wrong with honesty about being obsessed with your personal achievements - that is what drives sportmen to achieve great heights in the first place!! As long as that obsession does not come before the team - scoring a hundred is good for all parties surely

It is weird though how some sportsmen are never completely liked or provoke strong opinions. Kallis, despite his greatness, has had many detractors. In rugby Percy Montgomery got booed for years cause people thought he was a poofter with his blonde highlights - completely unfair and petty.

Posted by Waikato_FC on (June 25, 2010, 8:20 GMT)

'Shane Watson does not fit in the Australian side. He should not be in the Australian side'??

HOW do you back that comment up? Is he getting too many runs for you? I've met Watto a couple of times, he's a decent, laid back, friendly bloke - pretty typical of your average Aussie cricketer really (much as it pains me to say it). Cut the guy some slack, would you rather he was a robot?

Posted by Winsome on (June 25, 2010, 7:36 GMT)

I have some admiration for a player who would keep on trying despite all the injuries he has suffered, but his screaming at opposition, mouthing off even when fielding on the boundary... these things aren't about the tall poppy syndrome. When he screamed at Chris Gayle last year like a lunatic, he lost me for good.

But it was a real surprise to see how many Aus fans were pleased that he didn't get his ton that time.

And that run out issue with Katich was really off. But then I far prefer Katich. I think he should have captained the 20/20 side.

Posted by NeilCameron on (June 25, 2010, 7:23 GMT)

My view is simple. It doesn't matter if the guy looks like the Hunchback of Notre Dame or talks like Germaine Greer or drives a Suzuki MightyBoy or eats quiche or drinks American lite beer or visits prostitutes every night or has a personality that makes Doc Martin look charismatic or endorses Microsoft or aims for the centre when standing at the toilet or eats too much fibre or who thinks High School Musical is the best movie ever made or who is a Twilight fan or who has every Kenny G album in existence or who still wears Dunlop KT26s or is preselected for the local Liberal Party... so long as the guy scores runs and/or takes wickets he deserves a place in the side.

Posted by ram5160 on (June 25, 2010, 7:21 GMT)

Well, if aussies dont want him , there are plenty of teams who would be glad to take him.

Posted by   on (June 25, 2010, 7:16 GMT)

Shane Watson does not fit in the Australian side. He should not be in the Australian side.

Posted by Itchy on (June 25, 2010, 6:47 GMT)

Wow Christian, you have managed to stir some diverse and strong opinions in people just in the first 8 comments - there appears to be some serious love and hate directed at Watto. Personally, I do not think he is good enough to maintain a position as an opener in the Test team and should drop down to number 6 with North making way. As has been pointed out, his arrogance is an asset at this level but he does manage to offset it with a healthy dollop of self-doubt.

Posted by boris6491 on (June 25, 2010, 5:54 GMT)

This is an incredibly courageous article and I admit that I admire you Christian for writing it. I believe there is certainly an element of truth in this in that the Australian public and the cricketing world for that matter has not warmed to Watson as much as one would expect considering what an impact he has made on the Australian side since establishing a permanent spot. However, I think it is venturing a little far to say that he is completely self centered. A first test hundred is something one would cherish and being nervous about it on a night before is completely understandable and in no way self centered. If it was, every cricketer would be found guilty. If he kept on acting this way before every test hundred, then yes it would be a case of individual before team. If we are speaking about a self centered player, I don't think we have to go further than Kevin Pietersen to personify that role. I don't feel Watson is comparable to Pietersen just yet.

Posted by Schuldiner on (June 25, 2010, 5:50 GMT)

Wow man you have so rightly hit the nail on the head and it couldn't have bin put more aptly.. I for long have shared these opinions but have rarely ever heard anybody come close to mentioning it..Great read and it so poignantly highlights what a douche bag Watson is..Always chirping and having a smug smile on his face, it seems he can only dish it out and has the mindset & emotional intelligence of a 2 year old when things go against him.. I for one would love it if he falls off the radar and only make a comeback upon a massive attitude change.. Cheers

Posted by chickenpoo on (June 25, 2010, 5:16 GMT)

Chris Ryan you are unbelievebly mean to Shane Watson even though he has done nothing harmful to you. I cant believe you wrote an article just to bag him out. All your doing is pointing out his flaws in personality and thats easy to do to anyone Even You. Please recosider this article.

Posted by Kath on (June 25, 2010, 5:16 GMT)

You seem to be missing the quite large number of people who are on the other side of the fence, and have been massive 'I love Watto' fans. I don't think it's so much that he's unloved, it's more that he provokes strong opinions, whether they be pro or anti.

I do think you've tried to twist every situation as much as possible to make your point, though. I heard Watto's interview just after stumps the day he was run out by Katich, and it was one of the most generous ever, totally no blame, just laughed and said 'these things happen', and said it was just a mix-up, no-one's fault.

Posted by smudgeon on (June 25, 2010, 4:19 GMT)

I think you've hit the nail on the head - it's because there is that nagging feeling that Watto is more interested in his own achievement than in performing for the team. His obsession with getting that maiden test hundred last summer is a good example of that - it was agonising to watch how much he wanted it, I almost felt sorry for the guy when he kept missing out (but I didn't). There's no denying the guy has talent and that his performances contributed to Australia's recent successes agains the Windies & Pakistan. I just don't think he's ever quite going to win over Aussie fans...

Posted by BillyCC on (June 25, 2010, 4:16 GMT)

Watson's potential has only been realised in the past three years. Before that, his was a case of mismanagement of mind and body which could be seen from miles away. I believe the turning point in Watson's career was the last Test series in India when Australia lost 2 nil, but Watson was able to make an impact with the ball and was one of Australia's best on that tour. Even though he got injured afterwards, he felt he belonged and as soon as he recovered, he plundered the runs and took the wickets that we've heard about in recent times. The one question that remains is one that the team needs to address soon. Can a Test opener bowl second change as well? This has never happened in the history of Test cricket for a consistent amount of time. In my mind, Watson should give up one, and it is clear that the bowling remains far too great an asset, so he should go to number six and focus and keep improving the bowling.

Posted by Something_Witty on (June 25, 2010, 3:49 GMT)

there are two types of people when it comes to this sort of thing. Pretentious people who think that he's too self-centred because he doesn't talk about his team enough, and believe the mindless drivel that often comes out of other player's mouths in media interviews about how they were just happy to score that triple century for the team. And then there are people who can recognise the fact that Watson is, in his own way, arrogant, proud and vain, and like and respect him all the more for it. I for one, wouldn't like him half as much as I do if he were just another bland vanilla, media trained golden boy. Don't change an inch Watto.

Posted by Something_Witty on (June 25, 2010, 3:46 GMT)

Well maybe that's what the view is down in Melbourne. But elsewhere in the country he's won a lot of fans, truth be told. A lot of people, (me included) love his never-look-back attitude. Yes he's a proud man. Yes he's an arrogant man. And it makes him all the better. Some of the greatest cricketers ever known have been arrogant men. Do you think that people like the great Viv Richards or Dean Jones would have been half the players they were if they'd taken a softly-softly approach? I guess you can put it down to tall poppy syndrome. Now that he's finally been achieving the successes that are due him, people never like to see another elevated above the rest. To call him up for talking about "I" when asked about his 96 in Adelaide is very unfair. Lots of players who you definitely wouldn't call arrogant have said similar things. I seem to remember one Paul Collingwood talking about how "I made a mistake up in Brisbane" and "I wanted to go on and get a big hundred". The bottom line is,

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Christian RyanClose
Christian Ryan Christian Ryan lives in Melbourne, writes and edits, was once the editor of The Monthly magazine and Wisden Australia, and now bowls low-grade, high-bouncing legbreaks with renewed zeal in recognition of Stuart MacGill's retirement and the selection opportunities this presents. He is the author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket and Australia: Story of a Cricket Country

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