Shane Watson is pleased to have arrived home in Sydney after five months on tour with far more certainty surrounding his future than when he flew out. Watson starred for Australia during their Champions Trophy triumph and is the incumbent Test opener having performed well during the Ashes and has quickly become a vital cog in Australia's team in all formats.
"When I first went away I wasn't sure if the opportunity would arise to be part of the Ashes, let alone get the chance to bat in the last few Tests and then go on to the one-day series and play in the Champions Trophy," Watson told the Daily Telegraph after touching down in Sydney.
"I knew my game was in a good place, it was just a matter of putting it all together. I had visions of how the five months would turn out on tour, but it's definitely gone beyond my own expectations."
Watson's place as an ODI opener was no surprise but his success - he scored centuries in the Champions Trophy semi-final and final - has confirmed he is a long-term prospect in that role. What was not expected prior to the Ashes was that he would leave England as Simon Katich's opening partner in the Tests.
After Phillip Hughes was axed following his struggles in the first two Tests, Watson was installed in his place and made a consistent string of scores - 62, 53, 51, 34 and 40. Ricky Ponting said he was pleased at Watson's progress over Australia's five months on tour.
"I think he's grown in stature a lot and getting an opportunity in the Test side and opening the batting was something he wasn't accustomed to," Ponting said. "But he showed everybody how adaptable he is and that he can play at the top of the order.
"He bowled well through the one-dayers in England, and then to have his batting blossom at the end of the Champions Trophy when we most needed it, it was something special. He's setting up his career well for the future."