ICC World T20 - Men
Watson to retire at end of World T20
Allrounder Shane Watson has called time on a long and distinguished international career
Sam Ferris in Mohali
24 March 2016, 08:59 PM AEST
Shane Watson has called time on his international career, announcing today he will retire at the conclusion of the World T20 in India.
Watson informed his teammates on Thursday in Mohali that his 14-year career in the green and gold was coming to an end, saying now is the "right time" to walk away from the international arena.
"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.
"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."
The 34-year-old is the last relic of Australia's golden era, Watson playing alongside the likes of Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey and Adam Gilchrist.
Watson is also the last member of the core of players that helped rebuild the Australian team after the modern greats retired in 2006-07, combining with Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Brad Haddin to guide the side back to the No.1 Test team ranking in 2014.
"I really enjoyed my time being back in the Australian squad but, it is quite different," he 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 and it feels like the right time to be able to let the younger group continue to grow and evolve like they have been."
Born in the south-east Queensland town of Ipswich, just an hour west of Brisbane, Watson made his international debuted a raw allrounder in 2002 who could match it with the fastest bowlers in the country and had a batting technique straight from the coaching manual.
An electric start in one-day international cricket was curtailed by the first of a long list of injuries, ruling the blond, broad-shouldered Watson out of the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa.
He returned to be a staple in Australia's limited-overs teams for the next dozen years, playing a supporting role in the 2007 World Cup win in the Caribbean before compiling back-to-back centuries in the 2009 Champions Trophy semi-final and final in South Africa.
In that same year Watson cemented his place in the Test team, replacing Phillip Hughes as opener in the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston and he scored the first of four five-day hundreds against Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the Boxing Day Test.
It started a golden run for Watson, who won consecutive Allan Border Medals as Australia's finest cricketer in 2010 and 2011, the 2012 World T20 player of the tournament, and in 2013 was appointed as Australia's 44th Test captain on the disastrous Test tour of India, the same tour that saw him suspended, return to Australia for the birth of his first child and consider quitting the game at the highest level.
"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 said when asked about if he was glad he continued playing after the 2013 'Homeworkgate' saga in Mohali.
"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."
Watson's ability to bat anywhere in the top six and bowl with the new and old ball made him an automatic selection for most of his career, but as the injuries started piling up the thought of dropping his bowling to prolong his career as a batsman crossed his mind.
"I've definitely thought at moments, like a few years ago, that being an allrounder and being able to play at full capacity as an allrounder, those days were numbered," Watson said.
"Especially around 2006-07, I was certainly doubting myself because I just kept getting injured all the time.
"But as a batsman, I always have done and would have done everything I possibly can to get the best out of myself as a batsman alone.
"I knew whatever format it was, whatever level it was I was going to play cricket because I love the game so much.
"Certainly as an allrounder from those periods of time I couldn't really see the light with all the injuries I had I certainly exceeded my expectations in that regard."
While his numbers gradually dwindled as he entered the twilight of his career, Watson was a key member of Australia's 2013-14 Ashes whitewash of England, and a year later was at the non-striker's end when Steve Smith hit the winning runs to secure the 2015 World Cup final at the MCG.
Watson will continue on as a T20 gun for hire, plying his trade in a quartet of domestic leagues; the Indian Premier League, Caribbean Premier League, KFC Big Bash League and Pakistan Super League.
But he is already beginning to plan for life after cricket, though it appears Watson will not be lost on the game that's given him so much.
"It's no secret I do love coaching and that's one thing I will be doing in my time off," he said.
"There's a big break that I'll have after the Caribbean Premier League from August to nearly the start of the Big Bash that I'll definitely up-skill from a coaching perspective whether that's skill-wise with young players or outside the cricket aspect as well."
Watson by the numbers
Runs: 3,731 | Average: 35.19 | High score: 176 | 100s: 4
Wickets: 75 | Average: 33.68 | Best bowling: 6-33 | 5w: 3
Runs: 5,757 | Average: 40.54 | High score: 185* | 100s: 9
Wickets: 168 | Average: 31.79 | Best bowling: 4-36
Runs: 1,400 | Average: 28.00 | High score: 124* | 100s: 1
Wickets: 46 | Average: 24.71 | Best bowling: 4-15