Having announced his retirement from international cricket last year and been celebrated during the recent Sydney Test match, Shane Watson might well have thought his days of Australian cricket accolades were past.
But the former Test all-rounder made a return to the spotlight at tonight’s Crown Lager Allan Border Medal presentation when he was named Australia’s T20 International Player of the Year.
A format that announced his departure from the elite level of the game, given that Watson formally ended his 14-year international involvement at the end of Australia’s failed World T20 campaign in India.
And it was the 35-year-old’s all-round contribution to that series, where Australia failed to reach the play-off rounds, which was a vital ingredient in him earning the award that he had also pocketed in 2012 and 2013.
Watson was the second-highest runs scorer in the voting period – 8 January 2016 to 7 January this year – behind fellow all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.
But Watson was an even stronger performer with the ball in the shortest format, taking nine wickets at 21.78 from his nine international appearances at a tidy economy rate of just above seven runs an over.
Quick Single: Watson calls time on distinguished career
More than respectable in the 20-over game where a dot ball is almost as valuable as a wicket.
Upon receiving his award, Watson admitted he was just a little surprised.
"That seems like a long time ago now actually," Watson said, referring to his time on the international scene.
"I’m certainly enjoying a different life now playing T20 cricket around the world.
"There’s a lot less pressure than playing for Australia, so I’m enjoying that. I’ve got a lot more time to spend with my family and more downtime between tournaments.
"I certainly can’t complain."
Watson finished ahead of Maxwell in the voting, with former T20 skipper Aaron Finch – who was replaced by Test captain Steve Smith in the lead-up to the World T20 event – finishing third.
The fact that Watson is among the top dozen runs scorers in BBL|06 and has also captured 12 wickets at a tick over 25 for the Sydney Thunder means he’s likely to come under consideration for the Australia T20 team for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka.
Which coincides with the Australia Test team preparing for their upcoming Test tour of India, and is expected to be selected from the best-performed players of the current KFC Big Bash League.
But Watson, in announcing his retirement during the World T20 tournament last March, indicated that his time as an international player is done.
"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 at the time.
"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.”
Watson is also the only Australia player to have won five of the major awards that are presented the annual Allan Border Medal – the Border Medal (2010 and 2011), Test Player of the Year (2011), ODI Player of the Year (2010, 2011, 2012), T20I Player of the Year (2012, 2013 and 2017) and Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year back in 2002.