March 25, 2016

A limited-overs champion

Shane Watson's Test career was underwhelming, but with his brute batting force and his canny bowling, he was an absolute asset in the limited-overs formats
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Among players with 3000-plus runs and 150-plus wickets in ODIs, only two players have a bigger difference between batting and bowling averages © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Shane Watson's body of work over a 14-year career in international cricket is impressive: 3731 runs and 75 wickets in Tests, 5757 runs and 168 wickets in ODIs, and 1400 runs and 46 wickets in T20Is. (The last set of numbers will increase as Australia have at least two more matches left in the World T20.) Add up those three sets of numbers, and you get a healthy sum of 10,888 runs and 289 wickets, which makes him one of only seven players to achieve the double of 10,000 runs and 250 wickets in international cricket; the only other Australian to achieve this is Steve Waugh.

There remains a persistent feeling that he underachieved in Tests, but in the limited-overs format his numbers are superb, with both bat and ball. In ODIs, he finishes with a batting average of 40.54 at a strike rate of 90.44, including nine centuries; with the ball, his 168 wickets came at 31.79 each, at an economy rate of 4.95. Despite being so injury prone, he is among a select band of 11 allrounders to score more than 5000 runs and bowl more than 1000 overs in ODIs.

Watson's best years in ODIs were between 2007 and 2011. In those five years, he scored 60% of his career runs, and took 51% of his career wickets in that format. His batting average during that period soared to 47.28 at a strike rate of more than 94, while his bowling average dropped to 28.50. Of the 17 Man-of-the-Match awards he won in his ODI career, 11 came during that five-year period between 2007 and 2011. (Overall, only five Australians won more MoM awards in ODIs than Watson.)

Shane Watson's ODI career
Period Matches Runs Ave SR Wkts Ave ER
 Till Dec 2006  52  734  30.58  72.81  52  31.28  4.67
 2007 to 2011  88  3452  47.28  94.54  86  28.50  4.98
 Jan 2012 onwards  50  1571  34.91  92.08  30  42.13  5.30
 Career  190  5757  40.54  90.44  168  31.79  4.95

Watson was more than handy as a bowler, but the numbers he put up with the bat alone are worthy of a top-class batsman. He is one of only three batsmen to score 5000-plus ODI runs at a 40-plus average and a 90-plus strike rate; AB de Villiers and Viv Richards are the others in this exclusive club, which makes this an extremely special achievement. Admittedly, there are three batsmen who have strike rates between 89 and 90 and miss this club by a whisker - Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Hashim Amla - but even so, Watson has the bragging rights of being in the company of two batsmen who are easily among the all-time greats of ODI batting.

5000+ runs at 40+ ave and 90+ SR in ODIs
Player Inns Runs Ave SR 100s
 AB de Villiers  192  8621  54.56  100.18  24
 Viv Richards  167  6721  47.00  90.20  11
 Shane Watson  169  5757  40.54  90.44  9

Also, his powerful front-foot technique was particularly effective in Asia, where he had an incredible average of 48.27 at a strike rate of 94.34. He averaged almost 43 in India, 90 in the UAE, and 147 in Bangladesh, where he made his highest ODI score of 185 not out. The only Asian country where he didn't have as much success was in Sri Lanka, where his average dropped to 31.42 in eight innings. Among non-Asian batsmen who have played at least 30 ODI innings in Asia, Watson's average is fifth highest, while his strike rate is fourth among these 73 batsmen, after Richards, de Villiers and Adam Gilchrist.

Top ODI averages for non-Asian batsmen in Asia (Min 30 inngs)
Player Inns Runs Average Strike rate 100s
 Gary Kirsten  45  2265  59.60  77.75  5
 AB de Villiers  46  2193  57.71  99.00  10
 Michael Clarke  47  1904  54.40  76.74  4
 Michael Bevan  59  2101  52.52  76.56  1
 Shane Watson  42  1786  48.27  94.34  3
 Hansie Cronje  45  1785  48.24  79.75  1
 David Boon  39  1615  46.14  69.91  1
 Kevin Pietersen  40  1638  45.50  87.17  3
 Viv Richards  43  1669  45.10  103.92  3
 Andrew Symonds  36  1210  44.81  87.49  2

During his five best years - 2007 to 2011 - Watson's batting numbers in ODIs compared favourably with the best. He averaged 47.28 at a strike rate of almost 95, while Sachin Tendulkar averaged 50.33 at a strike rate of 90, AB de Villiers 51.83 at 94.15, and Hashim Amla had an average of 55.17 at 91.98. Add his bowling numbers during this period - 86 wickets at 28.50 - and he becomes arguably the most valuable ODI player in these five years.

Watson won 11 Man-of-the-Match awards during this period; only MS Dhoni, Shahid Afridi, with 12 awards each, won more. However, all of them played more games than Watson's 88: Dhoni played 137, Yuvraj 115, and Afridi 99. In these five years, the difference between Watson's batting and bowling averages - which is a good indicator of all-round prowess - was 18.78. Among the nine allrounders who scored 1500-plus runs and took 40 wickets in ODIs during this period, that difference between batting and bowling averages for Watson was the best. Only Jacques Kallis came close, with a difference of 17.83, while for all the others the difference was below five.

Allrounders with 1500+ runs and 40+ wkts in ODIs between Jan 2007 and Dec 2011
Player Mat Runs Bat Av SR Wkts Bowl Av ER Ave Diff
 Shane Watson  88  3452  47.28  94.54  86  28.50  4.98  18.78
 Jacques Kallis  75  3045  51.61  80.76  49  33.77  4.89  17.83
 Yuvraj Singh  115  3765  41.37  89.72  68  36.57  5.11  4.80
 Shakib Al Hasan  108  3037  33.74  77.73  139  29.09  4.38  4.65
 Mohammad Hafeez  48  1521  33.80  75.48  46  29.36  4.00  4.43
 Kevin O'Brien  62  1601  33.35  80.98  48  30.08  4.90  3.27
 Paul Collingwood  94  2781  38.09  79.84  61  38.93  4.91  -0.83
 Shahid Afridi  99  2013  25.80  133.84  140  28.95  4.55  -3.14
 Elton Chigumbura  90  1840  24.21  87.99  75  36.66  5.68  -12.45

On that parameter, even his overall numbers are impressive: the difference of 8.74 is third highest, among the 19 allrounders who have scored 3000 runs and taken 150 wickets in ODIs. Only Kallis and Lance Klusener have a higher difference.

Highest diff between batting and bowling averages in ODIs (Min 3000 runs & 150 wkts)
Player Mat Runs Bat Av SR Wkts Bowl Av ER Ave diff
 Jacques Kallis  328  11579  44.36  72.89  273  31.79  4.84  12.56
 Lance Klusener  171  3576  41.10  89.91  192  29.95  4.70  11.15
 Shane Watson  190  5757  40.54  90.44  168  31.79  4.95  8.74
 Andrew Flintoff  141  3394  32.01  88.82  169  24.38  4.39  7.63
 Shakib Al Hasan  157  4398  35.18  80.31  206  27.89  4.30  7.29
 Imran Khan  175  3709  33.41  72.65  182  26.61  3.89  6.79
 Chris Gayle  269  9221  37.33  85.11  163  35.20  4.76  2.12
 Shaun Pollock  303  3519  26.45  86.69  393  24.50  3.67  1.95
 Sachin Tendulkar  463  18426  44.83  86.23  154  44.48  5.10  0.35
 Carl Hooper  227  5761  35.34  76.63  193  36.05  4.36  -0.70
 Steve Waugh  325  7569  32.90  75.91  195  34.67  4.56  -1.76

And then there are his numbers in T20Is, a format he took to with gusto. With a few more games to go in the World T20, Watson's current T20I strike rate is 144.47. Among the 47 batsmen who have scored at least 750 runs in this format, Watson's strike rate is fourth best, after those of Aaron Finch, Shahid Afridi and Chris Gayle. He is one of only two Australians to score centuries in this format, while his 80 sixes is third highest, next only to Gayle (98) and Brendon McCullum (91).

And with the ball, he has made vital contributions, taking 46 wickets at 24.71 and an acceptable economy rate of 7.63. Hopefully, over the next week or two, he will get the opportunity to take at least four more wickets at get up to 50, another landmark that will be richly deserved in a long and successful limited-overs career.

Highest Strike rates in T20Is (Min 750 runs)
Player Inns Runs Ave SR 50+ scores
 Aaron Finch  26  916  39.82  152.92  7
 Shahid Afridi  89  1391  18.06  150.37  4
 Chris Gayle  44  1506  37.65  145.64  15
 Shane Watson  54  1400  28.00  144.47  11
 Kevin Pietersen  36  1176  37.93  141.51  7
 David Warner  59  1618  28.89  140.32  12

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   Nabeel Ahmed on March 31, 2016, 9:01 GMT

    Only J. Kallis among above table can be considered as a world class all rounder and can match the skills of yesteryear's great all rounders i.e Imran Khan, Gary sobers, ian Botham, Richie Banud or Hadlee.

  • mrcric32 on March 28, 2016, 2:47 GMT

    Only if his body had supported him. Really truly a gem every team would envy for. Take a bow Shane. All the best post retirement.

  •   Greg McMaster on March 27, 2016, 2:22 GMT

    Hope domeone can answer this - did he ever open batting and bowling for Australia in a ODI?

  • Masking_Tape on March 26, 2016, 23:12 GMT

    Amazing how SA had two pace and pure ALR, three if you count Pollack, but he was more of a bowling ALR, all at the same time. While some teams go decades without one.

  • NP_NY on March 26, 2016, 18:21 GMT

    Fitness was his biggest challenge. If he had stayed fit for most of his career, his test figures would have looked much better too. Certainly an asset in limited over formats.

  •   Anuj Kapoor on March 26, 2016, 17:49 GMT

    Look at Jayasuriyaa's stats ODI runs

  •   Geethan Samarawickrama on March 26, 2016, 16:53 GMT

    How come you omit Sanath Jayasuriya from the list? His numbers are far greater than most people in the list.

  •   Umair Ahmed on March 26, 2016, 14:22 GMT

    where is Sehwag in the list ? what abt Abdul Razzaaq name ? these two surely were good all rounders too

  • DieselGodofThunderWDP4 on March 26, 2016, 11:25 GMT

    Shows that JK was the supreme all rounder. Truly a remarkable cricketer. The best of all time.

  • NAP73 on March 26, 2016, 7:36 GMT

    Ordinary test player who never fulfilled potential and kept disrupting the team with his injuries, but yes a great short form all rounder who was perfect for the hard-working and underestimated containing and partnership breaking role. Oz won't produce another for a while and tests may be dead in future as well, which will make his record even more favourable with the passage of time. Mitch marsh is not the same with his batting, so can't compare.

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