Watson laments prep after 'worst ever' IPL

Australian allrounder says he struggled to adjust to IPL after not playing any international cricket in the lead-up to the tournament

Shane Watson has vowed not to let his preparation slip for his globetrotting T20 journeys after "the worst IPL I've ever had".

Watson was made captain of Royal Challengers Bangalore to open the current season but has played just seven of 13 games, and was dropped again in their last start for fellow Aussie Travis Head.

Watson has scored 67 runs at 11.16 in IPL10, with a best of 24. And while that return is only marginally below last year's batting average of 13.76 (179 runs in 16 games) his 20 wickets at 24.25 in 2016 made him a valuable contributor in the side's run to the final.

This year Watson's bowling has been below par as well, with four wickets at 57.25 and an economy rate above 10.

The Australian, widely considered one of the greatest ever limited-overs players, was the top-priced buy in the 2016 auction, snapped up by RCB for a cool A$1.98m per season.

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Watson had a busy 2016-17 summer, playing with the Sydney Thunder in the KFC Big Bash League (104 runs at 17.33, 7 wickets at 18.42) and in the Pakistan Super League (171 runs at 21.37, 10 wickets at 20.90).

But he admitted missing the challenges, and regularity, of playing international cricket had hampered him.

"The biggest challenge for me has been not coming off playing international cricket after which you just go into the flow of the IPL, which is obviously an incredibly strong tournament," Watson said.

"And it's been a big learning experience for me, how it hasn't worked this year for me this season and how I can actually learn from this experience so that the next tournament I'm playing (the Caribbean Premier League) I'm going to be better prepared.

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"I'm going to be able to hit the ground running more than what I was here this year.

"Even though I did everything I possibly could to give myself the best chance for performing for RCB this year, it just didn't work.

"There's been a bit of soul searching this IPL over how things have panned out for me personally."

But Watson is far from the only highly paid, big name star on RCB's books to grossly underperform in 2017, with Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers both managing to average just 27, while Jamaican opener Chris Gayle has 152 runs at 19.

While the stars and the club have floundered, rising Australian star Travis Head has enhanced his reputation, with 149 runs at 37.25 in just six matches, including the stunning 75 not out in a bail out effort earlier this week.

RCB play their final game of the season on Sunday night. Regardless of the result, last year's beaten finalists will finish with the wooden spoon.

"There's a lot of pride to play for and the pride is primarily about the RCB fans," Watson said.

"The one thing I've realised playing for RCB the past two years is how incredibly loyal the fans are … They've endured a lot this year, as much as we have."

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