Cricket: In defence of Shane Watson

I enjoy the banter on social media about cricket and its players and I am a strong defender of everyone’s right to have an opinion. I have read, often with dismay, vitriol on my time line directed at one particular cricketer, Shane Watson, for some time now. After last night’s DRS fiasco I have decided that enough is enough and it is time come out swinging in defence of Watto.

Some background: Watson is from Ipswich, as am I. We went to the same school albeit he was a few years behind me. We played in the same junior club competition. We have some mates that knocked around in the same circles and way back when we knew each well enough to say g’day to.

The school connection and running in some of the same circles does not mean that I know the bloke personally and I do not claim to. What it does mean though is that I do know what Shane went through, at least anecdotally, even to get to first class cricket. I remember the news of the back stress fractures: some kids stop playing after having them once but I know Shane went through them at least twice before he was 16 and maybe more. From a young age he was targetted, as kids are when they are playing with men, for more vitriol than most are required to take in a lifetime of sport. Cricket in Ipswich was no charm school and he did not wilt.

Since he has been playing first class cricket and for his country he has had problems with injury of that there can be no doubt. Indeed, one of the main complaints of those who attack him seem to be that because he has had those injuries he is somehow weak. That hypothesis ignores the fact that where others probably would have quit, Watson has rehabbed, made himself stronger and redesigned his whole bowling action just to keep playing. Having to do that as many times as he has smacks of a person with a strong character who preserveres doesn’t it? Not of someone who is inherently weak?

It is also postulated by those who attack the most that he is selfish and not a team man. To those of you who are in the camp I pose this question: would someone who is not a team man keep coming back to bowling because the team needs him to despite the real and present danger of another injury? Is that not the epitome of being a team man? Putting his own health ahead of the needs of the team would seem to be right up there I would have thought. Similarly, resigning as team vice-captain in the wake of “homeworkgate” must also be seen from the perspective of that act’s benefit to the team rather than the act of someone, allegedly, throwing the toys out of the cot.

I can’t say I have agreed with all of his decisions: moving away from Queensland is a hard thing for any Queenslander to swallow but I can understand the premise behind it. In his position would any other first class cricketer in the country have made a different decision? Show me one who suggests that he would have and I will show you a liar.

I have no cavil with people commenting on the form of players and whether that form warrants a players place in the team. If Watson is out of form or if there is a better alternative to him being in the team then I will be at the head of the queue in making that statement. Like many of Australia’s players at the moment I think he would benefit massively from a season of Sheffield Shield cricket. That said, can anyone tell me who a better option is at the moment from the current pool of talent in Australian cricket? If you argue that the Australian cricket team would be improved by his removal from the team then you are entitled to your opinion but tell me who is around that would improve the team in his absence?

I am an unabashed fan of Shane Watson, in part because everytime he walks out with a baggy green on his head I see the pain he has gone through to be there and in equal part because he is patently in the top eleven players in the country.

If he is out of form and warrants dropping and that is your opinion you are entitled to it. If you believe he is weak, selfish, not a team man or anything else to do with assertions you have about his character then, again, you are entitled to your opinion, but you can expect me henceforth to test that opinion because such statements warrant reply in the strongest possible terms. To date I have chosen to ignore them but I can not countenance that approach any longer. If you do not like that, then use the unfollow button. If you want to have a genuine debate: then I am ready, willing and waiting.

One response

  1. As an England fan, other than Clarke there isn’t any other player we would like to see out of your batting line up. Shane Watson has the ability to take the game away from the opposition with the bat, and either take key wickets or alternately keep things by tight with the ball. The England fan in me hopes CA drop Watson as it almost guarantees us the Ashes, but the cricket fan in me hopes that never happens. The player is class. Yes, he has concentration issues and doesn’t convert enough starts into big scores, but who would you rather have there?
    As an aside, I knew there was a reason why I liked you blogs. I was born in Ipswich (the other one) and us Ipswich boys need to stick together 😉

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