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Former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson admits to being in awe of Shakib Al Hasan and says the Bangladesh star can thrive as captain and dominate the Asia Cup and ICC T20 World Cup.
Speaking on the latest edition of The ICC Review, Watson was full of praise for Shakib and the consistency he has been able to maintain across all three formats.
The 35-year-old has played 383 international matches – scoring 13,016 runs and picking up 631 wickets – and was only recently re-appointed as the captain of the Bangladesh T20I side in the lead-up to the Asia Cup, a move that Watson backs.
The former Australian was asked whether it was the right call by Bangladesh to insert Shakib as captain, Watson was emphatic.
"Absolutely! To have a leader of Shakib's quality, I think it's going to re-energise them," Watson said.
"He's so experienced. He has captained Bangladesh a lot of times. He has captained in a lot of franchise tournaments as well, especially in the Bangladesh Premier League."
Watson also backed Shakib to find his best form in the shortest form of the game, as Bangladesh gear up for two major tournaments – the Asia Cup and the 2022 ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Australia over the coming months.
"His decision-making for his team-mates under pressure is going to be invaluable," Watson noted.
"He’s got a point to prove as well. And when there is a world-class cricketer with a point to prove and some fire in his belly, they normally dominate.
"I'd be very surprised from a performance point of view if he doesn't dominate this T20 World Cup and the Asia Cup."
Watson played as an all-rounder across all formats during his 14-year international career and knows better than most the heavy toll that takes upon your body.
“I know from my perspective with the games that I've played in international cricket, in particular. As an all-rounder it’s challenging. Especially when you are playing day in and day out, to be able to physically look after yourself and conserve energy,” said Watson.
“And also from a batting point of view, to sustain the physical and mental energy over a long period of time."
This makes Shakib's achievements over the years all the more impressive, in Watson's eyes.
"That's what Shakib Al Hasan has done. It's so hard. And yes, being an all-rounder spinner, a left-arm orthodox, it might look from the outside to be a less physically demanding," Watson said.
"But especially in the sub-continent conditions, he is bowling a lot. And then he has to go out and he is one of the main men in the batting line-up as well."
Watson believes players of Shakib's calibre are rare.
"For him to be able to play across all formats, it's very special and with the amount of cricket that’s on nowadays, franchise cricket as well, it is going to be very rare to see anyone play all three formats and as successfully as Shakib has," Watson said.
"To be able to average well over 30, mid-late 30s in all three formats, with the bat and under 30 with the ball across 15 years is really special."
When asked which up-and-coming all-rounder stood out in his eyes, Watson was quick to name a rising Australian star.
"One player that stands out to me right away, that I just am so excited to see playing, is Cameron Green," Watson noted.
"At the moment, he has only really played Test cricket and he is managing his body as he works through his young body from a fast-bowling perspective."
"The skillset that he has got – batting and bowling wise – across all three formats, which we haven't really seen in T20 cricket yet, we've seen glimpses in ODIs. He has got all the weapons at his disposal to be able to have a long, dominant international career across all three formats."
Green has so far played just 22 international matches, but Watson admits the abilities of the 23-year all-rounder made him a must-see prospect.
"I turn on the TV anytime he is playing, batting or bowling. I love watching him play, the way he takes on the game. And he is only going to get better," Watson said.
"If Cricket Australia continue to manage him as well as they are, I'd be very surprised if he doesn't have a long, successful career across all three formats."