|| CF Correspondent ||
Australian all-rounder Shane Watson spoke at length with Cricfrenzy during his stay at Dhaka while taking part in the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League for Rangpur Rangers where he opens regarding different aspects cricket that includes many things.
Here are the excerpts
Cricfrenzy: Do you miss international cricket?
Shane Watson: I was fortunate enough to be able to play for as long as I did. I am honored to play for my country and to be able to do what I did like perform for your country in big events, is the ultimate. This is what I dreamed of when I was a kid. Now I am at this stage of my career, and I have been playing for the last three to four years. I don’t miss the real scrutiny you have playing for your country because of the game in Australia for example if you are not performing well and it is a personal attack on you because you are not trying. You are trying your absolute best but in cricket or sports and in life, it does not always go according to the plan. No matter anything in life it does not go perfectly all the way through because there is always going to be ups and downs but when you are playing for your country people expect that to be the case[ everything going perfectly] but it is not.
Cricfrenzy: Do you have any regret?
Shane Watson: No regrets at all. I got the absolutely best out of what I could at that moment time I trained as hard as I possibly could to get the best out of myself. It doesn’t mean like I look back and see a few little parts that I could have performed better in of course that is the reason I wanna go coaching when I finish my this role because I know I can help the next generation. Because I look back and I see little things that I could differ in the hind side I can say I did these things and I learned the hard way and you do this thing because that would give you actually a better chance of having a better outcome.
Cricfrenzy: So you are planning to take coaching?
Shane Watson: Yeah of course. One, I love cricket- it’s what I know better than anything and I love helping people. I want to help people with the experience that I have been so fortunate to have in my life and in my cricket career. Coming to Australian cricket team at the age of 20 when we had a lot of the greats of world cricket and not just the Australian cricket of the world cricket playing in the squad and in the team that I am playing in and over the years I have learned so much from those guys and I learned from my own experiences. So of course, I want to help the next generation coming through with my experience which I am fortunate to have.
Cricfrenzy: You won four consecutive man of the match award during the World T20 in 2012. Was that something special?
Shane Watson: That was something special but I think I am fortunate to have a lot of special moments throughout my career. Of course, at that time when T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka, to be able to put back that performance consecutively against world class teams, yeah, of course, it is one of the highlights, there is no question. But the bigger highlights would have been winning the T20 World Cup which Australian team had not put it together in those events since 2007 from the start. But throughout my career, whether it is for the Australia national team or playing for other tournaments. I have got so many special memories for sure.
Cricfrenzy: What do you feel gave you an edge over others? Just hard work or it was a combination of hard work and luck?
Shane Watson: The combination, of course, that has to. To be able to achieve anything you obviously have to work very hard to through the setbacks, through the speed bumps getting your way and of course you need luck. That is for the great family in which I was. To be brought up in the environment that did. There was always great fine work in place at a young age. The coaches I have got through during the development process. And then coming through and being all-rounder when Australia was looking for a fast-bowling all-rounder. If I came when Australia already had a Jacques Kallis, I was never gonna play then. So luck plays a huge part. The doors were open. But of course, you have to work hard and have the skills. So, they are very inter-related.
Cricfrenzy: Tell us about the special moments of your life. You have got so many?
Shane Watson: The one that stands out the most would be the 2015 World Cup win at home. There is no doubt. That’s the pinnacle and that’s something we dreamt off. That was a long dream was to be able to win that World Cup at home. Even when I first came to this Australian team, the one-day team, that was the 2015 World Cup, even in like 2004, everyone knew that was going to be at home. So I was just hoping to get to that and playing it. So that is one, and of course the other from a Test cricket point of view, winning the Ashes 5-0 at home. That was an amazing feeling in an Australian team where that was the real first time I felt that all the Australian public were all on our side. It was that time because you go through different ages even individually, whether you are performing or not. You go through ups and downs when the public really likes you and think you are great to the other side thinking you are not great and you should stop. That was the time when the Australian public everyone wanted us to do so well. It was an incredible experience.
Cricfrenzy: You won World Cup with Ricky Ponting and Micheal Clarke. How do you describe the personality of those captains?
Shane Watson: Ricky Ponting, for me he was the ultimate leader as he really knew how to connect every single player in the group. He had great leadership and skills as well. He knew how to get the best out of players. He knew what made them tick.
Ricky took the best out of me. He knew to say the right things to say at the right time to get the best out of me. And that was the thing that really stood out for me with Ricky was his ability to stay connected on a personal level as a mate with everyone across the team as well as the strong leader that he was at the same time. That’s an amazing balance that he didn’t develop, that’s how he is. That’s the skill he had.
Michael Clarke was a different leader in that regard. He was the leader. And in a way, there is a separation between him and the group in a way. I guess some leaders do that. Some leaders just have that separation to make sure that everyone knows that they are the leader and they make sure everything they can take the best out of the players. Where Ricky had that combination. It is a rare combination to have both and have that connection all the way through that group.
Cricfrenzy: You were very fond of Warner as a leader also?
Shane Watson: Yes sure. Warner is an incredible leader for sure. There is no doubt. He did say that he never got an opportunity to show his leadership skills as the captain of the Australian team consistently because either way tactically he is a genius. That is one of the reasons why he has such skills and also successful in his career. It is because of his understanding of the game and he knows tactics on how to get people out. And then also to get things to get the best out of people as well. He knows how to lift things up and connect with people. And I saw that all too well in the first IPL. He was captain-coach and he knew how to connect everyone to make sure everyone is a part of the team. So that is an amazing skill that he has. So unfortunately from an Australian point of view, he never had that opportunity to do it. He has a huge impact on my career. Not just as a leader for Rajasthan but also the opportunities he allowed me and helped me at Hampshire that was instrumental and also he was just mentoring me, he was looking after me. Helping me to continue to develop like skills as a cricketer.
Cricfrenzy: Talking about IPL how was your journey in CSKA?
Shane Watson: Yes, CSKA is an incredible franchise. Because it is led by two of the best leaders being around. Stephen Fleming is the best coach I have worked with. He understands cricket internally, he is such a great leader and great captain and great player himself. And then also understanding of man-management and how to get the best out of the individuals and collectively as well. There can be coaches who understand cricket but not the man-management but he got both. And then there is MS Dhoni the leader who got incredible calmness about himself. He has got an incredible in-situation understanding of the game as well. And he also knows how to get the best out of people. So that’s the combination, it leads to so much success. So from that leadership point of view that goes down to the whole franchise and makes them successful.
Cricfrenzy: There were lots of talks like CSK is a place for old cricketers. Do you feel age does matter?
Shane Watson: It is proven that age does not matter. Because in the end even in Australian cricket, for a period of time there is a huge shift with getting the old guys out, old over 27, getting the olds out and the young guys in because that’s the way cricket is moving. Cricket is a skill-based game. In theory the older you get, up until the point where physical attributes start affecting your performance. Up until that point, the older you are, the more experienced you are, the more skill developed you are. So that is just proved with CSK doing that it shows even in T20 which is once talked about as a young men’s game young athletes game it is a skill. The most high skill in cricketer is the ones who have more chances to execute their skills under pressure.
Cricfrenzy: You are not playing international cricket. How do you prepare yourself to take the challenge of T20 cricket?
Shane Watson: Look, I have led the hard way. After the first year when I stopped playing international cricket, I did struggle to find that balance between looking into the next phase of my life, making the most of my family time. But then making sure my skills are there where it needed to be as well that is required playing against world-class players. First nine months of doing, I got it wrong. I did not play enough cricket and I didn’t get my skills going. I thought will be okay, when I will be playing practice matches, I will be fine. No, it does not work like that. The reason why I could keep my skill levels all round because I was playing all year round. So when it is warm there I am still playing, obviously, during the offseason, it is difficult in Australia to be able to play. But I am playing club cricket when it starts in September and I make sure I am playing all the way through until obviously these tournaments start. Because this time this tournament is bit of challenge. I did not expect to come here halfway through the tournament so I needed some time to make the skill are up there where it needed to be as well playing against world-class cricketers. I need a little time to get my skills going again. But I have learned the hard way to get to prepare as well as possible to make sure to give myself a chance of performing. I follow a routine to prepare in between the tournaments and when there are no tournaments to make sure I am prepared to play against some of the best cricketers in the world.
Cricfrenzy: You are a scholar from the Australian Cricket Academy? What is the reason behind so many great cricketers from that academy?
Shane Watson: It did produce so many great and the reason why is that they got the system right. Rod Marsh, the way he set it up and the way everyone thought how to play from bowling, batting and fielding side to fitness they got the system right. And I remember when I got asked by Rod Marsh, it was like a dream come true. It was like a factory producing the world’s greatest cricketers. It was like whether it happens or not, I have to improve my skills. And then like everything that happens they trying something which is not broken and they broke it. We don’t have that same factory that used to produce so many great cricketers.
Cricfrenzy: You are elected as the president of the Australian Players Association. How do see that?
Shane Watson: It was a huge honor to be the president of the Australian Cricketers Association. And what my role is probably from seeing my experience with Australian cricket and work on where I can shine a few things. And then also it is a way for me to be able to stay connected with the playing groups, stay connected with Australian cricket and also helping the people who are currently playing. I want to be at the forefront of that collected voice to ensure that the players have the best opportunity to get the best out of themselves on the field and off the field. One thing I never took for granted, that I am fortunate I have been to come along at this time in world cricket. Be fast bowling all-rounder when T20 cricket as well the Australian cricket financially grew as well. So how fortunate I have been to come along to this stage. I certainly would never take that for granted. Because you have the people the amazing player who is gone before me the majority of them did not have this opportunity. As the president of ACI, I would suggest that the young generations that are coming through don’t take that financial position for granted at all because of the situation and environment in world cricket now.
Cricfrenzy: Do you feel Test cricket is under threat as the way T20 cricket is making a place for itself?
Shane Watson: T20 won’t be the ultimate cricket because Test cricket is always going to be the ultimate cricket. Like Test cricket Championship, that should have been put in live five or eight years ago when the ICC first mentioned that you need to apply context to every single game that is played. That is why 50 over World Cup is such a great thing to watch. There is something right on every game. The T20 World Cup, that’s the reason why it’s great to watch and play because there is a lot of thing happening in every game. If you lose you got a play another series in Test cricket whereas you don’t play well in a World Cup you got to wait for four years. Five day Test cricket is the ultimate. No four day Test because it is ridiculous. The fifth day in a Test match is the ultimate to watch. If there is a chance the Test is going to do five, that’s the most intriguing part of Test cricket. The first four days the game seemed to be going nowhere but on day five the game just speeds up and that is just intriguing to watch. Whoever is pushing that[ four-day Test] individually or collective, they don’t truly understand what the real context Test cricket is all about.
Cricfrenzy: How do you see IPL evolved all through these years?
Shane Watson: IPL evolved from day one at being just a celebration of cricket because of the opportunity that coming once in a lifetime to be able to play with international players you only ever played against. Then the money as well The money because the salary cap available to the teams was mind-blowing. So the first four years, it was just a celebration of cricket and of course, wins. And then the stage got really serious. Franchise and everyone was ready to do everything to win. Not just getting big names. Getting the right people at the right place and trying to be successful. So I think it shifted quite a lot in that regard. But still, because there is an international window, players are available to be able to play. Phenomenal experience, players I played in international cricket, still playing in an international standard tournament, the best players in the world playing in it.
Cricfrenzy: What is the difference between IPL and Big Bash?
Shane Watson: You have got four best players playing in every team and seven local players. And from the start going through from 2008, there are seven other Indian players, the majority of those have become world-class by now. That’s how we wish cricket to go. So in Australian cricket, there are only two overseas players. Now in the last couple of years, it is not always the best world-class T20 players who are playing as the overseas players and then also you got nine local players that stretched over eight teams. It does show the talents the Australian got. That’s one of the challenges they are facing at the moment.
Cricfrenzy: How long you want to continue?
Shane Watson: Not sure. I still love playing. It is not three-four or five years; it is challenging to traveling away from the periods of time from my family. Now, my son is at school full-time. I don’t want to miss it because they are not able to travel like the way we were able to. I still want to play a lot because I feel everything I know about T20 cricket, I can still play consistently well by continuing to evolve my routine and my preparations. But then there a time will come when I feel to move on to the next horizon when I see a big part of me being coaching.