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Australia v England, 1st ODI, Melbourne

Watson admits focus has been elsewhere

Brydon Coverdale in Melbourne

January 16, 2011

Comments: 31 | Text size: A | A

Shane Watson hits one of four sixes during his match-winning knock, Australia v England, 1st ODI, Melbourne, January 16, 2010
Shane Watson appeared in superb touch during his innings, but admitted his thoughts have been elsewhere recently © Getty Images
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Shane Watson's brilliant match-winning century at the MCG suggested a mind focused firmly on the job, but his thoughts have been far from the cricket world over the past few days. While Watson plundered an unbeaten 161 against England, the fifth-best individual score in Australia's ODI history, the residents of his hometown, Ipswich, were starting the clean-up after devastating floods, and by Monday, he'll be there too.

Shortly after Watson brought up victory with a six in the 50th over, he was already casting his mind to Queensland and a two-day trip back home before Australia's next ODI, which is in Hobart on Friday. Watson has organised a sausage sizzle at a Bunning's hardware store in the Ipswich suburb of Booval, and he'll be doing what he can to raise funds and lift spirits.

"I haven't really been thinking about cricket too much," Watson said. "It has been all about what's been going on back home and also trying to organise things that I can do after this game to be able to help out in any way I can. It's going to be great to be able to get up to Ipswich tomorrow morning and to be able to help out. My mind has been there.

"I'm really looking forward to being able to get up there and feeling like I can have some input in some way. My family was lucky enough not to be affected, but I know some of my friends who live close to the river, and also my primary school, the grounds close to it were all flooded. It's going to be heart-wrenching to see the devastation that's there."

It will be a far cry from the MCG, where Watson thrilled the crowd with a fluent and powerful innings that featured four sixes. Right from the start, the ball fizzed off his bat with impeccable timing, and in pursuit of 295, he and his opening partner Brad Haddin ensured that Australia got to 110 in the 20th over before they lost a wicket.

By the closing stages, things became a little tighter but Cameron White helped to close things out with an unbeaten 25, which included a couple of important boundaries to long-on when Watson was tiring. But Watson had enough left in his tank to bring the fans to their feet with the first ball of the last over, when four runs were needed and he lifted Ajmal Shahzad over long-on for six.

"Cameron White was great to keep me thinking about exactly what was required and how we were going to do it," Watson said. "I was a little bit tired at that stage so for him to process it well with me, it worked out nicely in the end. To be able to get through and get a hundred, it's going to continue to build my confidence if I get close to there in Test matches."

Watson has a habit of failing to capitalise on his starts in Test cricket, where he has made 15 scores from 50 to 99, but only two centuries. However, in ODIs, he has now managed five hundreds. And none of it means as much to him as the trip he'll make to Ipswich this week.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (January 17, 2011, 21:58 GMT)

Dude, you became one of my favorite cricketers when you donned the blue and gold uniform for Rajasthan Royals, and I'm pretty stoked you will be back with the team again this year.

Do remember to bring your current form with you though! And really, you ought to be striking the 50 average mark in tests pretty damn soon

Posted by Aussasinator on (January 17, 2011, 17:10 GMT)

He's due for the test and ODI captaincy.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (January 17, 2011, 11:43 GMT)

So much comparison to Kallis starting to filter through in a lot of fans opinions. I say bat him at 4 or 5 in TEST cricket like Kallis and he'll strengthen the middle order and be able to bowl more without the pressure of opening. Well done Watto, I'd hate to image how we wouldve gone this summer without you. Please tell Captain Milo you can't waste 60-odd balls striking at 60 when your team is chasing almost 300. England lost the game when they got Clarke out.

Posted by puphusss on (January 17, 2011, 10:43 GMT)

Great going Watto. Hope everything will be fine at Ipswich.

Cheers!!

Posted by captainbarebum on (January 17, 2011, 9:45 GMT)

It depends on how you look at it, doesn't it? Everyone's giving Watto a hard time for "not converting 50s into 100s." So is the cup half-empty or half-full? Come on, when you've got Punter & Pup struggling to convert 10s into 50s, plus a few other top order blokes whose recent efforts are the definition of inconsistency? Look, your openers MUST weather the new ball & lay a decent foundation & Watto's done that again & again only to have Punter & then Pup come in & get out in prompt fashion, like bloody clockwork! If numbers 3 & 4 let you down, you are usually cooked & you have to look (unfairly) to your bowlers to get the other side out cheap. Watto is easily Oz's most stable, reliable performer over the last year, which has been a damn dark period for the green & gold team. So bloody what if he constantly gets out in the 60s, 70s, whatever, before making 100? So bloody what! Anyway, an absolutely magnificent unbeaten 161, mate. I've never seen anyone more due for a score like that.

Posted by Aussasinator on (January 17, 2011, 8:04 GMT)

He's now rising as a batsman and diminishing rapidly as a bowler. Cant call him an all rounder for long.

Posted by Something_Witty on (January 17, 2011, 5:44 GMT)

@ minuszero, yeah I'm totally with you there. An opener who averages 50 with the bat and ~ 30 with the ball in test cricket is just NOT up to scratch. It's indicative of how poor Australian cricket is right now that we have to have such a player in our side, I mean it used to be that our opening batsmen averaged over 9000 with the bat and 1 with the ball, but now we have lame cricketers like Watson who just don't measure up to the old crowd............... Oh wait, That's not right is it?

Posted by   on (January 17, 2011, 1:33 GMT)

Well done watto! (again) People might criticise the lack of 50 conversions in tests, I would still take a consistent 50 opener over a guy who fails twice and gets 100 or anyone else in the squad except possibly Kadich and Hussey. Why is Clarke playing still? Have a break dude, go back to state cricket for a few months, get your confidence back up. You are embarrassing yourself, we all know your are better than the way you have been playing the last 9 months. Dropping people for lack of form should apply to everyone in the team. Especially when you are losing!

Posted by schmiddy on (January 17, 2011, 1:20 GMT)

Congrtas to Shane - best batsmen and some may argue best bowler Australia has currently. Anyone care to comment on: Clarke's batting: I wasn't impressed last night. Took forever to get going and just as he started to play some shots got out again. Steve Smith: Why is he in the team? He has no batting technique, never scores runs and is rarely given the ball, so why is he there? Surely he's not the best allrounder Australia has? I say put a decent up-and-coming batsmen who can actually bat in the team. Also, why is Usman not considered a one day player?

Posted by srivatsan on (January 17, 2011, 1:00 GMT)

There were days where folks were saying Watson could not bat and bowl (was it Lillee?). he has now proved he can do both. This is my piece of advice to Aussie selectors don't get your heads to focus only on NSW, there is so much talent out there waiting to be picked. You just need to pick and give them time, they will do wonders. At this time I really feel for Brad Hodge a nice player whose career has been butchered by selectors (just because he was Victorian?). At the same time I'm happy that White and D.Hussey are in the frame now.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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