Shane Watson has announced his retirement from international cricket, 14 years to the day after he first played for Australia.
Watson had retired from Test cricket at the end of last year’s Ashes tour of England, and he has not played ODIs since September last year; he will now officially depart from Australia’s international setup at the end of the ongoing World Twenty20 in India.
Watson’s retirement is effectively the final cutting of ties to Australia’s dominant era of the early 2000s; he was the last remaining player turning out regularly in any format for Australia who had debuted before 2007, the year of the Warne-McGrath retirements. Watson has also confirmed that he is retiring from first-class cricket, having not played since the Ashes tour.
T20 had yet to be invented when Watson made his international debut in an ODI against South Africa in Centurion on March 24, 2002. He was 20 at the time. Now, on the eve of a crucial World T20 match against Pakistan, at the age of 34 and as a father of two children, Watson has decided that the time has come to move on to another stage of his life.
“One morning I woke up in Dharamsala to the beautiful view and I don’t know what it was exactly but I knew now was the right time,” Watson said. “I’ve really enjoyed my time being back in the Australian squad. But it is quite different, none of the other guys I played with growing up are here any more. I’ve made the right decision. I couldn’t really see the light with the all the injuries I had.”
Although Watson’s Test career was sometimes frustrating for Australian fans and selectors, he was a consistently high performer for his country in the shorter formats. At his peak he reached No.1 on the ICC’s T20 international batting rankings and spent two years as the No.1 allrounder; in ODIs he also reached No.1 as an allrounder in 2011, and peaked at No.3 as a batsman.
His clean striking at the top of the order made him a consistent threat as an opening batsman; only Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting struck more sixes for Australia in ODI cricket than Watson, who played far fewer games. As a bowler, he was accurate and reliable, could swing the ball when conditions suited, and provided vital balance to the line-up.
He will finish with 190 one-day internationals to his name for 5757 runs at 40.54, and 168 wickets at 31.79, as well as holding the Australian record for the highest ODI score: his unbeaten 185 against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2011. Ahead of his final T20 international matches, Watson has 1400 runs at 28.00 from 56 games, and 46 wickets at 24.71.
Watson is one of only seven men in history to have achieved the double of 10000 runs and 250 wickets in international cricket across all three formats; the others are Steve Waugh, Carl Hooper, Sanath Jayasuirya, Jacques Kallis, Shahid Afridi and Chris Gayle. He also captained Australia in all three forms, adding T20s to his list in January against India, his 124 not out in that game being the highest T20 international score by a captain.
He played in three World Cup campaigns and was part of Australia’s triumphs in 2007 and 2015. Watson was also Man of the Match in the Champions Trophy finals of 2006 and 2009 both of which Australia won thanks largely to his runs as an opener. The 2009 Champions Trophy especially was a case of Watson standing up in the big moments: he scored an unbeaten 136 against England in the semi-final and then struck 105 not out against New Zealand in the final.
Although Australia are yet to win a World T20 title, Watson was Player of the Tournament in 2012 in Sri Lanka, where he topped the run tally with 249 at 49.80 and was the second leading wicket-taker with 11 at 16.00. The team will need something special from Watson in the remainder of this year’s tournament if he is to depart with a T20 trophy to his name.
“Hopefully there’s still one highlight to come, with us really hitting our straps over the next two games. Then once you get to the semis you never know what will happen.”