In a surprise development, Australian all-rounder Shane Watson today declared that he will call time on his 14-year-old international cricket career at the end of his team’s campaign in the ongoing ICC World Twenty20.
Watson’s decision to retire caught many off-guard at the I S Bindra Stadium here. He was seen delivering an emotional speech to his teammates at the start of the practice session on the eve of Australia’s must-win match against Pakistan.
His teammates duly applauded when the 34-year-old, who has already retired from Test cricket, was done with his speech.
Watson, who made his international debut with an ODI against South Africa at Centurion exactly on this day 14 years ago, said he took the difficult decision after a week of pondering.
“It’s been over the last week that it’s really become clear that now really is the right time to retire from all international cricket,” Watson said in a statement.
Watson scored 3731 runs in 59 Tests and 5757 runs in 190 ODIs besides taking 75 and 168 wickets in the two formats respectively. In 56 T20Is so far, Watson has scored 1400 runs and grabbed 46 wickets.
In the twilight of his career, he mostly played T20s and was also a regular at the Indian Premier League. In fact at this year’s auction, Watson was bought for a whopping Rs 9.5 crore by the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“I’ve been playing with the thought for a few months now and I know now with the way the group is continuing to evolve, which is exciting to be able to see, with my young family as well, and seeing the potential of the international schedule is very hectic.
“And I just know it’s the right time to be able to right now clear my mind knowing that I’ve made the decision and be absolutely ready to go for these next two very important games,” added the cricketer, who had retired from Tests at the end of last year’s Ashes.
His last ODI appearance was in September when Australia played England at the Lord’s.
Watson is a World Cup wining member of the 50-over team which triumphed in 2007 and 2015. He has also played in all six World T20s and was named the player of the tournament in the 2012 edition.
He is also the only current player who played with the likes of long retired Australian greats Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist.
“I really enjoyed my time being back in the Australian squad but, it is quite different,” Watson said.
“None of the other guys that I played with growing up are here anymore. I know how privileged I’ve been to be in the position to start out so young with so many incredible players.
“That’s part of what I’ve always seen myself being the filter to pass on that knowledge to the guys that I’m involved with. I know how incredibly fortunate I’ve been…My first tour was with Steve Waugh as the captain of the Test squad. A lot of these guys have seen Steve Waugh play but never had the fortune to actually be able to play with him. That’s just one guy, let alone all the other legends I was fortunate enough to play with.”
One of low points in his distinguished career also came in India. He was suspended after the infamous ‘Homework-gate’ during the team’s disastrous Test tour of India in 2013 for which he was axed from the team.
“That was a time I certainly was considering my future within the Australian team because at that point in time I certainly wasn’t enjoying the environment at all, I was enjoying playing in that regard,” Watson recalled.
“And that’s what the game of cricket and sport in general is there for – to be thoroughly enjoyed. The thing that really shone through at that point in time was how much I do love the game and realising that was absolutely living the dream.
“I just had to get through that period of time having faith that there was light at the end of the tunnel and there certainly was. It changed within two or three months with Darren (Lehmann) coming in (as coach) and changing things around.