Australia v England, 1st ODI, Melbourne January 16, 2011

Watson admits focus has been elsewhere

31

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 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

  • Aussasinator on January 17, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    He's due for the test and ODI captaincy.

  • 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.

  • puphusss on January 17, 2011, 10:43 GMT

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

    Cheers!!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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!

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Aussasinator on January 17, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    He's due for the test and ODI captaincy.

  • 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.

  • puphusss on January 17, 2011, 10:43 GMT

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

    Cheers!!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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!

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • titansnights on January 17, 2011, 0:51 GMT

    its a fantastic knock and his emotions have made him more focussed subconsiously and everyone knows how skillful he is...

  • MinusZero on January 16, 2011, 23:47 GMT

    It underlines the fact that Watson is a ODI and 20-20 cricketer, not a test player.

  • Meety on January 16, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    I think Watto's mind hasn't been fully on the job all season - until the T20s & ODIs have rolled around. In the Tests he did too many dumb things that halved his potential - he should of ended up with a couple of centuries - with the form he was in. Anyways- not many players bowl significant amount of overs & then come out & bat thru 50 overs - well done Watto, I hope you learn from this.

  • PlayingItStraight on January 16, 2011, 23:23 GMT

    While a lot of people have been critical of Watson's ability to convert 50s to 100s in tests, you have to respect his consistency and all-round performance all summer across all formats. Let's focus on the nonperforming Clarke etc, rather than taking potshots at our best cricketer. Once Watson can sort out his ability to concentrate for longer the big test scores will come ... he seems to struggle mentally after he's batted for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, which in test matches is when he has racked up 50-100. But at least he is regularly contributing, unlike so many others, and this was a truly great ODI performance by an outstanding cricketer.

  • on January 16, 2011, 22:19 GMT

    always knew Watson is destined to be a star...finally bro! finally! well done.

  • whoster on January 16, 2011, 22:17 GMT

    Brilliant knock from Watson. He's been the Aussies most reliable player over the last 18 months, and deserves to be labelled as a genuine all rounder. He's been criticised for not making enough big scores, but this could be a turning point for his batting. Well played, from an Englishman.

  • on January 16, 2011, 21:52 GMT

    Early in his career, I never rated Shane Watson at all. Now he'd have to be the first name on the team sheet. It's been a joy to watch him grow up and become Australia's best current cricketer over the past 2 years.

  • on January 16, 2011, 18:48 GMT

    one of the best knocks by an Aussie I've seen.

    very well played Watson!

  • skepticaloptimist on January 16, 2011, 18:34 GMT

    This is coming from an India, and generally people believe we won't appreciate efforts from the Aussies. I don't know about others, but it's quite challenging not to appreciate this particular effort by Watson. He's been playing his best game recently, and his accomplishment looks even greater if you consider all the injuries he got throughout his carries, especially the first half. Applause and respect from my side!

  • khalekk on January 16, 2011, 18:29 GMT

    Well played Watto.. I just love the way you play.. wish you all the best in life and in your career.

  • no_second_chance_for_batsman on January 16, 2011, 17:48 GMT

    i am very happy for watson not only for the great knock but for starting to mature as a cricketer who can accept defeats too....never doubted his all rounder abilities which is top class. cheers, kumar

  • 9717669381 on January 16, 2011, 17:40 GMT

    really really well played watto,,,with the pain of ur people got devastated in queensland's flood,to produce a gem,,was incredible mate!!!

  • on January 16, 2011, 17:32 GMT

    Clarke should not be playing one dayers, White should be the captain...

  • on January 16, 2011, 17:30 GMT

    Common Australia and win the world cup again :)

  • on January 16, 2011, 16:45 GMT

    That was an epic knock.. None of the other aussies even hit a 50... Watto was clinical in his battng 2day...He is probably the only player in the australian team now along with mike hussey who rightfully deserves his place... Everyone else can be shuffled around... Hats off Mate..

  • nzcricket174 on January 16, 2011, 16:21 GMT

    Watson is becoming the next Jacques Kallis. If only he was 5 years younger. Then again, they say your best player days happen sometime after 30. Sehwag, Kallis, Tendulkar, Hussey are all prime examples of this. Ricky Ponting is an exception to this theory though. If Watson can figure out how to convert 50 into 100 on a regular basis the world better watch out.

  • popcorn on January 16, 2011, 16:15 GMT

    Watson will soon be the elder statesman of Australian Cricket. He has a head on his shoulders.

  • bboynexus on January 16, 2011, 14:53 GMT

    There's simply no denying Watson's value to this team is every format. He is playing the dream. As I always believed he could.

  • CharlieAlanJakeHarperFamily on January 16, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    If a guy scores more than 50 percent of team's score that too at a big ground MCG with big sundries then not only he deserves man of match but realization that how pivotal watto has become to oz in providing thumping starts as good as best batsman to punter on top form when punter is in top form and his bowling is such a crafty one bowls seam up swings it he surely is best odi allrounder kallis comes next in odis only in tests kallis is best really 161 is quite fanciful that too at MCG

  • on January 16, 2011, 13:53 GMT

    Fantastic knock !!! by one of the best allrounder of d world

  • Something_Witty on January 16, 2011, 13:50 GMT

    Watto is a much maligned cricketer and a genuinely good guy. For some bizarre reason people think he's selfish. - I haven't seen it and I'm not seeing it now. Truly on the path to becoming a great of the modern game, and right up their with Kallis as one of the best all-rounders in the world. Great innings and a great player.

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  • Something_Witty on January 16, 2011, 13:50 GMT

    Watto is a much maligned cricketer and a genuinely good guy. For some bizarre reason people think he's selfish. - I haven't seen it and I'm not seeing it now. Truly on the path to becoming a great of the modern game, and right up their with Kallis as one of the best all-rounders in the world. Great innings and a great player.

  • on January 16, 2011, 13:53 GMT

    Fantastic knock !!! by one of the best allrounder of d world

  • CharlieAlanJakeHarperFamily on January 16, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    If a guy scores more than 50 percent of team's score that too at a big ground MCG with big sundries then not only he deserves man of match but realization that how pivotal watto has become to oz in providing thumping starts as good as best batsman to punter on top form when punter is in top form and his bowling is such a crafty one bowls seam up swings it he surely is best odi allrounder kallis comes next in odis only in tests kallis is best really 161 is quite fanciful that too at MCG

  • bboynexus on January 16, 2011, 14:53 GMT

    There's simply no denying Watson's value to this team is every format. He is playing the dream. As I always believed he could.

  • popcorn on January 16, 2011, 16:15 GMT

    Watson will soon be the elder statesman of Australian Cricket. He has a head on his shoulders.

  • nzcricket174 on January 16, 2011, 16:21 GMT

    Watson is becoming the next Jacques Kallis. If only he was 5 years younger. Then again, they say your best player days happen sometime after 30. Sehwag, Kallis, Tendulkar, Hussey are all prime examples of this. Ricky Ponting is an exception to this theory though. If Watson can figure out how to convert 50 into 100 on a regular basis the world better watch out.

  • on January 16, 2011, 16:45 GMT

    That was an epic knock.. None of the other aussies even hit a 50... Watto was clinical in his battng 2day...He is probably the only player in the australian team now along with mike hussey who rightfully deserves his place... Everyone else can be shuffled around... Hats off Mate..

  • on January 16, 2011, 17:30 GMT

    Common Australia and win the world cup again :)

  • on January 16, 2011, 17:32 GMT

    Clarke should not be playing one dayers, White should be the captain...

  • 9717669381 on January 16, 2011, 17:40 GMT

    really really well played watto,,,with the pain of ur people got devastated in queensland's flood,to produce a gem,,was incredible mate!!!