To the casual observer, Shane Watson is a difficult player to love. Whether it is the face like a badly constructed sponge pudding, or the smirk that seems to be on his face the entire time, or simply the exaggerated way that he holds a pose after playing a good shot, everything about him screams 'hit me'. The shame about this is that, whatever personality defects he may have, he is turning into a very fine cricketer indeed.
During the Ashes series, Watson was Australia's second best player, and arguably their most consistent batsman. In one day cricket he has long opened the batting and can usually be relied upon to give them a solid start to any innings. His big problem in all forms of the game has not been making runs, but making big scores - his habit of getting to fifty but not getting past sixty was beginning to frustrate everyone involved with his game.
Not so on this occasion. Watson faced the first ball Australia's innings, defending a delivery from Tim Bresnan back to mid on, and he faced the last, drilling Ajmal Shehzad over long on for six runs to win the match. In between he faced a further 148 balls and scored 161 not out, the second highest total ever made against England in a one day game. His score was 54% of Australia's total of 297 and no one else in the side made more than 39. It was a one man show par excellence.
Earlier in the day, England had posted 294 but once again committed the cardinal one-day sin of not batting out their 50 overs. The innings was based around an opening stand of 90 between captain Andrew Strauss (63) and wicket-keeper Steven Davies (42), but their gamble of omitting Paul Collingwood in favour of Jonathan Trott failed, and after the openers were parted only Kevin Pietersen (with a typically belligerent 78) managed more than 28 and six batsmen failed to reach double figures. Once Watson got going England were a beaten side and they now go to Friday's game in Hobart trailing 1-0 in this seven game series, and against a side who have lost their last three one day competitions, too.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!