Calf injury leads to allrounder calling time on 59-match career in Baggy Green
Watson announces Test retirement
Shane Watson has announced his retirement from Test cricket effective immediately after another injury setback cut short his ODI tour in the UK.
Watson called time on his career Test career today after he sustained a series-ending calf injury in yesterday’s controversial 64-run ODI win over England at Lord’s.
The 34-year-old, who has repeatedly dealt with injury throughout his 10-year Test career, broke the news to his teammates at their London base this morning (Sunday).
"It’s been a decision that hasn’t come lightly, over the last month especially," Watson said.
"I know it’s the right time to move on and still hopefully play the shorter formats of the game, one-dayers and T20s.
"I've been through a lot of different waves of emotion about what is right for myself, my family and most importantly the team as well.
"Over the last couple of days there was a lot of clarity (for me) of what the right decision was. I just know that I've given everything I possibly can to get the best out of myself.
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Watson fronts the press with his announcement // cricket.com.au
"I just know it's the right time to move on. I don't have that real fight in me, especially for Test cricket, knowing the lengths physically that I'd have to go through, mentally and technically as well, to be at my best in Test cricket, so I just know it's the right time."
Watson played 59 Tests for Australia, scoring 3,731 runs, taking 75 wickets and holding 45 catches.
The allrounder leaves Test cricket as a 2013-14 Ashes winner, 2011 Test player of the year, two-time Allan Border Medal winner and became the 44th Test captain of Australia against India in Delhi in 2013.
Debuting at the SCG against Pakistan in January 2005, the strapping blond-haired 23-year-old scored 31 and captured the prize scalp of Younis Khan as his first Test wicket.
Watson, picked primarily for his batting prowess, was in and out of the side in his formative years but became a permanent fixture of the Test team from 2009 onwards when he replaced Phillip Hughes at the top of the order for the Third Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
It was in the opening spot that Watson found most success, scoring more than 2,000 runs against the new ball, averaging 42 and posting two of his four centuries.
Two Ashes centuries in 2013 rounded out a career in which his undoubted talents were too often stymied by the ever-present threat of injury.
"I haven’t achieved all the things I dreamed of achieving in my Test career," Watson said.
"Averaging 50 with the bat and in the 20s with the ball, that’s obviously the dream as an allrounder to be able to achieve, and I didn’t get anywhere near that.
"But I do know I gave it everything I possibly can to be able to get the best out of myself. That’s what I’m most proud of."
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Watson saluting the crowd after his last Test ton against England in 2013 // Getty Images
Regularly dropping in and out of the team with hamstring, calf and back injuries, Watson appeared in roughly half the Tests Australia took part in from his 2005 debut.
His most recent absence form the side came not due to injury but form, after twin lbw dismissals - his constant nemesis, particularly against England - and the outstanding form of natural replacement Mitchell Marsh led to selectors reconsidering his place in Australia's best XI following a first Ashes Test defeat in Cardiff.
That match, in which the right-hander made 30 and 19, proved to be his last in Baggy Green.
"It wasn't really one exact moment, because I've been through a lot of different mindsets," Watson said about the decision of Test retirement.
"I've been very lucky to talk to a few people over the last month, but especially the last few days, who have just given me that little bit of clarity; my family, but one (close friend) in particular who went through himself in his career so he just provided a little more clarity about what the right decision was."
Bupa Support Team Head Coach Darren Lehmann commented on Watson's retirement, saying: "Shane has been a fantastic servant for Australia in Test cricket and he has had a terrific career in that format.
"He has been an outstanding contributor to the team on and off the field and a great thinker on the game as well as a hugely talented cricketer. Behind the scenes he has done so much work with our younger players and that has been something that has really impressed me.
"His determination to be the best he can be over more than a decade in the longest format has been an example to everyone and we look forward to him continuing to contribute in limited-overs cricket in the time to come."
Australia's Test captain, Steve Smith, echoed Lehmann's praise of long-time teammate and friend Watson.
"It has been a pleasure to play alongside Shane and he has been a huge influence on my career and the team as a whole," Smith said.
"59 Test matches for Australia is an incredible achievement and he can be extremely proud of everything he has done in the game in the longest format.
"I’m looking forward to continuing to play alongside him in One-Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals."