Edwards praises work with 'childhood hero' Watson amid early-season surge

The allrounder has claimed career-best figures in both the Shield and Marsh Cup and also shone with the bat

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Jack Edwards has made an early mark with bat and ball this summer  •  Getty Images

Jack Edwards has made an early mark with bat and ball this summer  •  Getty Images

New South Wales allrounder Jack Edwards has begun this summer as one of the players in eye-catching form and he has praised the impact of pre-season work done with Shane Watson.
Edwards has been particularly impactful with the ball, claiming career-best figures in both the Sheffield Shield (6 for 36) and Marsh Cup (4 for 38) against Queensland, while he has made scores of 92 and 87 across the two competitions to pick up where he finished last season which brought a career-best 138 against South Australia.
Watson was brought into the NSW coaching set-up as a consultant alongside Michael Bevan, part of new structure under Greg Shipperd aimed at reviving the state's fortunes after a winless Sheffield Shield campaign last season.
Edwards has found the time with Watson, who has delved extensively into the mental side of the game, especially valuable and hopes to maintain the connection.
"The one-on-one chats with Shane were fantastic for me on the mental side of the game," he said. "A couple of things that I'd brought into my game at the end of last year and then was able to refine with him and just around bringing the best version of myself out on the field and being competitive. Having that competitive drive to win and getting into the contest.
"I took a lot away from those conversations. It was also fantastic to just chat to him, he was a bit of a childhood hero of mine so it was nice to sit down and meet him.
"The similarities to the beginning of his career had with where I'm at, juggling the responsibilities of being an allrounder and managing your body and the weight of expectation on yourself and all sorts of things. Hopefully I can stay in touch with him and keep picking his brain."
Edwards made his NSW debut in 2018, hitting a maiden one-day hundred against Queensland, and in the 2020-21 season was player of the match in the Marsh Cup final against Western Australia where he scored 108, but had not found the consistency to command a regular place.
In recent months he has also worked closely with Jackson Bird who joined NSW from Tasmania this season having been part of the Sydney Sixers set-up and from the same grade club, Manly, as Edwards.
"I do a lot of chatting with him and being able to work a little bit closer with him this pre-season has been nice," he said. "Just the way he prepares for every training and game, he's the ultimate professional. Even at the twilight of his career, he still does everything he can to get his body in the best place possible.
"Then there's just a few other things like wrist position and trying to maximise that. He's someone who's exploited that beautifully over the years. I just pick his brain on little things and controlling what I can to make the outcome as good as possible."
Edwards was particularly impressive from around the wicket to Queensland's left-handers during the Shield match at Cricket Central, removing Bryce Street, Matt Renshaw, Jack Clayton and Usman Khawaja with that angle.
"I've done it for quite a while had a bit of success, that's probably my best mode of attack to left handers," he said. "Watching how the game's changed in recent years with [Stuart] Broad and guys going around the wicket, basically try and copy what they do. Seems to be working for me right now. If I can keep working on my stuff to the right-handers and have that option to the left-handers as well, it's a nice combo."
However, despite Edwards' impressive performances in the early rounds, NSW missed out on what should have been a victory in each format against Queensland with the visitors producing a superb rearguard through Jimmy Peirson and Michael Neser in the Shield, then a thrilling final-wicket stand of 73 to steal the one-day game at North Sydney Oval.
"Everyone's passion to represent New South Wales is as high as ever and [to] try and make amends for what happened last year," Edwards said. "I think everyone was a little bit embarrassed, so I think everyone's hungry. We're doing a lot of good things so hopefully some wins are coming soon."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo