Watson: Smith has a point to prove, he will be relentless

Shane Watson talks about the last Indian Premier League final, Tamil Nadu Premier League, former teammate Steve Smith and a possible career in coaching.

Shane Watson was at the non-striker's end when Steve Smith scored his first Test hundred in England in 2013.   -  Getty Image

Among the lasting images of the Indian Premier League (IPL) season this year was that of Shane Watson leading the Chennai Super Kings run chase against Mumbai Indians in the final with a knee soaked in blood. While Mumbai went on to lift the title for a record fourth time, Watson walked away with high praise for his valiant 59-ball 80.

"It was heartbreaking for us to get so close and lose out by just a run,” he says, about the game. “For CSK to get so close in the final showed our character and our capability to rise to the occasion, but Mumbai dominated the tournament especially when they played us and you can’t always hope for miracles to come true in a final. I didn’t know I had hurt my knee and so I wasn’t thinking about that all," the 38-year-old said.

100

Shane Watson led the Chennai Super Kings run chase against Mumbai Indians in the IPL final with a knee soaked in blood.   -  SPORTZPICS

 

From one final to another

In the pink of health now, Watto is back in town to catch up with the business end of the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL).

"The sheer scale of the TNPL has blown me away. Back in Australia, we don’t have tournaments of this scale for the levels below domestic cricket. It’s an incredible thing that TNCA has taken up and they will reap the benefits of this in the next 5-10 years, like Indian cricket has with the IPL," he said.

READ: Watson calls Dhoni, Fleming the ‘best captain-coach combination’

This begs the question, how important are leagues of the kind to CSK's recruitment process?

"To be able to play before crowds and under pressure, for the CSK coaching staff and leadership to be able to see these players is a great thing for CSK, no doubt, but also for the players and for Indian cricket. For young cricketers to have a platform like this and put their game on show, it’s only going to make Tamil Nadu better," he added.

Ashes: the boon of a good start

Watson is closely following the proceedings at Lord's as England and Australia play for a win in the second Test of the Ashes. He calls the first Test win a morale booster.

"To be able to win the first Test of the Ashes in England has been incredibly difficult in the past and our biggest challenge, so there's no doubt that the momentum is with the Aussies," he pointed out.

He was also full of praise for former teammate Steve Smith. "The beauty of Steve Smith is that he is self made. He has had a couple of coaches who have worked with him, but the onus of evolving his game has been on him - he's been working on his own through exactly what's going to work and he's been incredibly effective," he said.

Watson was at the non-striker’s end when Smith scored his first Test century against England at The Oval in 2013. “That century was special because we saw a young batsman come of age and everything continued to go incredibly from there on. None of us imagined the heights he would go on to scale,” he added.

ALSO READ: RIP V.B. Chandrasekhar: The day a TN stalwart mesmerised Rest of India

"There's no question that the last 12 months, when he had the time off, gave him some time to sit back and assess where everything was at from a personal and skill point of view. It freshened him up in some way. He has such a point to prove and he is going to be relentless," Watson said.

However, he is a little surprised by Australia’s decision to rotate its pace options

“The things happening with (Mitchell) Starc, (Josh) Hazlewood and (Pat) Cummins came as a surprise to me. I am sure the selectors have their own thoughts about it. Thankfully, it has worked so far, so that’s that,” he said.

Beyond the boundary

The all-rounder was also present at the qualifiers and eliminators of TNPL in Tirunelveli, trying his hand at commentary.

"It's my first go at this and it was great. I am not sure if commentary will be something I get into after I finish playing. I definitely want to get into coaching some time in the future," Watson added.

Between his stints in the Indian Premier League and the Pakistan Super League - where he plays for Quetta Gladiators – Watson loves to take time off to spend with his wife and children.

ALSO READ: Quick guide to India's head coach selection process

100

Shane Watson enjoys spending off-time from his cricket calendar with his wife and children. He particularly loves cooking.   -  Getty Images

 

“I love to cook. When I am back home, I usually cook six days a week. I love trying out different recipes and it’s nice to get positive feedback, or any feedback really, about whether it works or not,” he quips.

Watto also follows rugby whenever he finds the time. Although an All-Blacks fan, he isn’t particularly complaining about its recent 26-47 loss to his national team in The Rugby Championship.

“For the Wallabies (Australian Rugby team) to be able to outdo New Zealand at a time when they’re not playing as they should and getting the results, is an incredible achievement, especially leading up to the Rugby World Cup,” he explained.

“I am sure Scotty (Scott Styris) is not going to be happy about this,” he chuckles. “I must say though, I love watching the All Blacks play and I love their attacking style of rugby from start to finish. That’s what rugby is about,” he said.