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April 23, 2007
Shane Watson's heavier bat and a determination to change his technique have helped him excel in the final overs of Australia's one-day innings. The full might of Watson's changes was on show when he slammed four sixes against New Zealand to finish with 65 from 32 balls as Australia reached 348.
The innings pushed Watson's World Cup tally to 142 runs at a strike-rate of 176 without getting out and confirmed why the team management was so desperate for him to recover from a calf strain. A hamstring injury before the Ashes disrupted Watson's progress, but the work he has completed with Jamie Siddons, a coach at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane, has paid off.
"Jamie has been an amazing influence on me," Watson said in The Australian. "It all started back after the Australia A series in Darwin and Cairns [last year]. He sat down and mapped out a plan of how I was going to be able to bat consistently well down the order in one-day cricket.
"Some of those things were a bit more touch, hitting down to fine leg just to be able to free up an area for me. But also developing a way to be able to hit boundaries at the end as well."
While he has had short stints as an opener, Watson has batted most at No. 7 and has shown how he can adapt his game. "I know a perceived weakness with my batting down the order was to be able to hit boundaries towards the end of an innings," he said. It has not been a problem in the Caribbean and his batting has helped ease the pressure on his heavily scrutinised performances.
"It has hurt at times," Watson told AFP of the criticism he has received. "It's human nature ... you can take it to heart. In the end all I have tried to do is be my best and I've tried to work extremely hard on my game to continue to improve. Having people doubt your ability and then to be able to put it together in a World Cup is truly satisfying."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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