A cricketing odyssey that started 31 years ago at the age of 8 with Brothers Cricket Club in Ipswich came to a close in Abu Dhabi last week, after Chennai Super Kings’ last match of the 13th series of the Indian Premier League, when Shane Watson announced his retirement from all cricket. From the time he travelled to Darwin with the Queensland Primary Schools team in 1993 for the interstate championships, he was destined to tour the world pursuing his dream of playing cricket at the highest level he could achieve.
In 1999-00, he represented Australia at the Under 19 World Cup in Sri Lanka. In 2000, he spent time at the Australian Cricket Academy in Adelaide and then, in 2000-01, he moved to Tasmania and made his first-class debut on 3 January 2001. At the end of the following season, he was selected for his first tour with an Australian team, to South Africa, making his ODI debut at SuperSport Park in Centurion on 2 March 2002. From then, he toured South Africa a further 6 times, Kenya once, Sri Lanka 3 times, England 7 times, India 9 times, Pakistan once (Australia A tour), Malaysia once, New Zealand twice, West Indies 5 times, United Arab Emirates twice and Bangladesh once – 38 tours with the Australian team and one with Australia A.
He played state cricket for Tasmania for 4 seasons, Queensland for 5 seasons and New South Wales for 5 seasons and county cricket for Hampshire for 2 seasons. He also played in 12 of the 13 Indian Premier League series that have been played to date, the Big Bash League 5 times (plus in the predecessor Big Bash), the Pakistan Super League 4 times, the Caribbean Premier League twice, the Bangladesh Premier League once and the T10 Cricket League in the UAE twice.
His career for Australia is outstanding. He played 59 Tests (making his debut vs Pakistan on 2 January 2005 at the SCG) and scored 3731 runs at an average of 35.20 (including 4 centuries) – 27th on the run-scorers’ list for Australia. He also took 75 wickets at an average of 33.68. He played 190 one day internationals, scoring 5751 runs at 40.54 and a strike rate of 90.45 (including 9 centuries) – 11th on the run-scorers’ list for Australia. He also took 168 wickets at 31.80. In 58 T20 internationals, he scored 1462 runs at 29.24 and a strike rate of 145.33 – 4th on the run-scorers’ list for Australia. He also took 48 wickets at 24.73.
Of the 458 Australians who have played Test cricket, Shane is one of only three who have scored 3000 runs and taken 75 wickets in Tests, the others being Steve Waugh (10927 & 92) and Shane Warne (3154 & 708). Of the 229 Australians who have played One Day International cricket, Shane and Steve Waugh (7569 & 195) are the only two who have scored 5000 runs and taken 150 wickets. Of the 94 Australians who have played T20 International cricket, Shane is the only player who has scored 1000 runs and taken 45 wickets.
When it comes to cricketers from all countries, there have been 5157 players who have played at least one form of international cricket. Only 8 have scored 10,000 runs and taken 250 wickets across the three forms of international cricket:
Jacques Kallis – 25,534 runs & 577 wickets
Sanath Jayasuriya – 21,032 & 440
Chris Gayle – 19,321 & 257
Steve Waugh – 18,496 & 287
Shakib Al Hasan – 11,752 & 562
Carl Hooper – 11,523 & 307
Shahid Afridi – 11,196 & 541
Shane Watson – 10,950 & 291
Shane also captained Australia in all three forms of international cricket – 1 Test, 9 ODIs & 1 T20I. Four other Australians have done this: Ricky Ponting (77/230/17), Michael Clarke (47/74/18), Steve Smith (34/51/8) & Adam Gilchrist (6/17/2).
Sutherland DCC have been very fortunate that Shane fell in love with Lee Furlong, resulting in him moving to live in the Shire. It resulted in him joining SDCC after the 2009 tour of England. Due to his Australian and NSW commitments, he didn’t make his debut until 11 February 2012 at Waverley Oval. Until his retirement from international and first class cricket in 2016, he was only available to play six matches for Sutherland. However, once he realised that he still needed to be playing regular cricket in between T20 commitments around the world, he committed to playing for Sutherland whenever he was available.
Over three seasons from 2017-18 to 2019-20, Shane played 19 matches for Sutherland. In those matches, he scored 1040 runs from 755 balls in 21 innings, at an average of 54.74 and a strike rate of 137.75. 80% of those runs came from boundaries – 102 fours and 70 sixes! His career record for Sutherland stands at 25 matches, 27 innings (2 no), 1220 runs, 48.80 average, 4 x 100 & 4 x 50.
Shane’s four centuries for Sutherland were remarkable innings:
2017-18 Round 2 vs St.George at Glenn McGrath Oval – 184
After starting the season with a golden duck against Campbelltown, Shane was determined to make amends in the local derby. He came to the crease at the end of the first over with the score on 1/1. He proceeded to smash the St.George attack to all parts of GMO, both inside and outside the fence, as he scored 184 off 151 balls, with 16 fours and 11 sixes. He and Jarryd Biviano (122) put on 300 for the second wicket, the club’s first 300-run partnership.
2017-18 T20 Quarter-final vs Mosman at Allan Border Oval – 114no
This is what I wrote on our website that night:
Shane Watson played a quite extraordinary innings at Allan Border Oval in the Sixers Conference T20 semi-final today. Chasing Mosman’s 8/150 off 20 overs, Sutherland cruised to victory with 22 balls to spare, as they made 2/156 off 16.2 overs. Shane spearheaded the run-chase with 114 not out off 53 balls, with a remarkable 16 sixes and one four – 100 runs in boundaries. He shared a first wicket partnership of 149 with Jarryd Biviano, who was unluckily out for 36 off 35 balls with only two runs needed for victory. Shane hit the first ball of the innings for four and was 4 runs off his first 7 balls. He then scored 110 runs off his next 46 balls, including the 16 sixes, meaning he averaged a six every three balls!
2019-20 Round 4 vs University of NSW at Glenn McGrath Oval – 141
Opening the batting with James Arnold who was making his first grade debut, Shane scored 141 off 109 balls, with 17 fours and 7 sixes. He and James (61) put on 194 for the first wicket.
2019-20 Round 12 vs Hawkesbury at Owen Earle Oval – 101no
With the temperature rising quickly out at Richmond, Shane joined James Arnold in the middle with the score on 1/12. As the mercury passed the 40-degree mark, he saved his energy by hitting boundaries. He reached his century just as play was stopped as the temperature reached 43, finishing on 101no off 72 balls, with 8 fours and 8 sixes. His partnership for the second wicket with James (26no) was 123 unbroken. There was no further play that day and the vagaries of our weather resulted in the second day of the match being washed out after a week of rain!
In our T20 premiership in 2018-19, Shane was only able to play one match due to his T20 commitments. It was our first match of the T20 competition against the powerful Manly team. Manly scored 4/188 off their 20 overs and we lost an early wicket in reply. Shane gave our innings the momentum it needed with 33 off 15 balls (2 fours & 3 sixes). We passed the Manly total at the start of the last over and our premiership quest was off to a perfect start. Without Shane’s innings, we might not have made it. He was disappointed to miss the finals day at the SCG due to a Sydney Thunder practice match for the BBL. I know he was proud to receive a T20 premiership cap after the season.
More than the sheer numbers of Shane’s performances for Sutherland, the true benefit of his contribution to our club has been what he brought off the field. His diligent approach to training set an example to all players who were there with him. He was as happy to help lower graders as he was his teammates. He was more than willing to talk to all players as a group at training about how he approached practice to prepare himself for match day. He ran a mental skills session for two hours in the clubhouse. The players who shared the dressing room with him in his 25 matches must have gained enormously from the experience of sharing the dressing room with one of the modern-day greats of Australian cricket. He was happy to attend sponsor functions and help promote our club.
Most of all, Shane just really enjoyed being part of a grade cricket club, away from the glitz and glamour of the international cricket scene. Shane, the pleasure has been all ours!!