One month ago international cricket was both a distant memory and a seemingly unreachable goal for Shane Watson. His only outing for Australia in the previous 12 months had been a single match at the ICC World Twenty20 and yet another hamstring injury had plagued his Australian summer, severely denting his hopes of quickly regaining his spot in the ODI side.
But timing is everything in cricket and Watson's naming as Player of the Series in the Indian Premier League came just a few days before Australia needed to decide on a replacement for the injured Matthew Hayden for the one-day series in the West Indies. Three matches into his comeback Watson has fully justified the call-up by scoring his first ODI century at better than a run a ball to set up a seven-wicket win for Australia.
"Things are progressing well," Watson said after the game. "A year or so ago things weren't looking that great. To be able to come out and get through some games and perform with the bat especially is a lot of fun."
Watson was not surprisingly named Man of the Match for his 126 and 1 for 23 and it was a pleasing turnaround after he was out for a duck in the first over of Friday's match at the same venue. But Watson was desperate to impress having been given the chance to open and he hopes he can make the position his own in the long-term.
"I normally bat three or four in the longer version of the game," Watson said. "So I enjoy coming in when the ball is new, with a few more gaps and taking on the quicks."
Ricky Ponting batted with Watson through most of the innings as they built up an imposing 190-run partnership and he said it was pleasing to see Watson play such a great hand after six years in and out of the ODI side. "It was a magnificent innings today," Ponting said. "He controlled the tempo of the innings very, very well.
"He's a big strong lad and I think we saw today just how effective he can be at the top of the order. His bowling spell in the middle of our bowling innings today was pretty impressive as well, so he's a very, very good all-round cricketer for us."
Ponting was also glad to find some form himself having struggled in the first two games, although he battled with a hand injury and needed treatment from the physio after reaching his half-century. There is a chance he could be rested when the series continues in St Kitts on Friday as Australia have already taken an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match contest.