When Shane Watson eventually calls it a day for his cricket career (still the distant future), this will be one innings to remember him by.
It reminded me alot of his innings against England in the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy semi-final. It's also not the first time he has called it a night with a massive heave for six to end the match.
England batted excellently with more than one key player moving on. Strass, Pietersen and Davies dug deep and executed their batting skills well to drive England to a mighty good score. 294 was tough, but if there's one thing I always try to embrace is that you never give in till it's all over.
The run-chase was incredible and new records stand for the MCG. The biggest run chase at the MCG in ODI cricket. Mission complete.
THE BOWLING AND FIELDING:
Our bowling is still the one major aspect that needs analysis ahead of the World Cup. With Ryan Harris out of the picture (aweful given he's been our best limited overs bowler) as well as Clint McKay it will be hard work for the bowlers.
Two of the initial prelim line-up are out and now the current crop have their backs against the wall.
Brett Lee still needs to keep an eye out on his no-ball issue (can't really change it after over a decade of it) but he was looking good. Excited to see what he can produce for the next 6 matches.
But this nonsense about referring no-balls is becoming a bit frustrating. Why can't the Umpires call it during live time as they are supposed to do? The pricinple is don't bowl no balls, but this has happened to often. All I'm saying is why can't the Umpires see it as it happens? Are they going to refer every wicket taken by an Aussie seamer? Atleast it promotes 'fair play'.
Doug Bollinger is still going for too many runs. Even when he was on a mad wicket spree he was still leaking too many runs. I still think he's a front line choice for us as he's as good as anyone in the current cricket scene on his day. He was selected with Shaun Tait pulling up with a sore back. In my opinion, if Taito can't handle the workload or doesn't get enough games in this series, he shouldn't be apart of the World Cup side. I still see him as valuable.
Xavier Doherty is being tested as I am sure Nathan Hauritz will play in the World Cup. He deserves to play a few more games as his Ford Ranger cup performances for Tasmania have earned him his call up. Give him a few more chances as he could be a menace in India.
It was good to see Steve Smith get two wickets and produce economical figures.
Mitch is still all over the show and I don't think he should be an automatic inclusion into our limited overs starting XI. Like Doug he is deadly on his day, but is mighty costly is Mitch. Come the World Cup we need it to be tight and granted that Mitch, Douggie and Taito are all wicket takers aka Spearhead bowlers, they are also mighty costly. This is where 2007 was good with Glenn McGrath, Nathan Bracken and Shane Watson to do bowling duties with Clarke and Brad Hogg to do spin duties. Taito was there to be a spearhead. If he leaked runs it was okay cause the other guys were tight...this is where the loss of Harris and McKay is a worry!
A quick note on the fielding. Brad Haddin had a bad day at the office, but I have been hearing alot of rumours of Tim Paine being promoted Keeper sooner than later while there's the chance of Hads' batting skills being utilised. Think it's jumping the gun if it is true as Tim is getting invaluable experience in comparison to what Hads gained as Gilly's understudy, but Hads did have a poor game with the gloves.
Cameron White's catch to dismiss Morgan was bloody marvellous. Damn I hope Bear can represent us in all forms of the game.
And I must also add, Mitchell's soccer skills are valuable out there. He's had a few of these soccer moments to run a batsman out.
Now, the highlight of the game. Shane Watson's innings.
SR Watson: 161* runs, 206 minutes at the crease, 150 balls faced, 12 fours, 4 sixes, Strike rate of 107.33. Do we ask for more? Outstanding batting Watto!
Watto may have a problem converting his starts in test cricket too the big figure mark, but the fact is simple and that is he puts in a performance nearly every series he plays. His batting has become unreal and he truely is the cement to our batting. His game is simple as well which probably helps a hell of alot.
Steve Waugh discovered this golden key as he did it by eliminating risk from his game and simply waited for the loose deliveries and maintained his composure by simply understanding his game in the sense that he knew what shots he could produce.
Watto is similar. Elegant cover drives, powerful cross bat shots, late cut shots and generally playing anything with a bit of width and wide of off stump a touch late and of course he eagerly anticipates anything he can swat away. This is also confidence and a guy who knows what his exact strengths are.
If you could get a video footage package of all his sixes since his ultimate return in 2008, you'd probably find 80% of them are massive lofted drives to cow corner or to the long on boundary. He knows his game and hopefully it will continue because we need Watto on song at the World Cup.
It's a great thought when I look back at his middle order efforts in the 2007 World Cup as a middle order batsmen, where he wasn't dismissed once. The slog sweep hasn't changed much since then.
How he's matured as a player and how confident has he become. It's a career I've been pleased to have followed.
To quote Slats, it was "a Champion innings". His century came off 110 deliveries.
As soon as he got to the landmark he blasted a straight drive over top and then produced a brutal pull shot into the crowd. It wasn't long after the strike-rate went over 100.00 as he got down on the back leg and produced the slog sweep for another six! He tried it again and nearly went out but Watto had some luck. Luck is something our side has been lacking for sometime. Was this maybe a change in fortune?
It's not every series we get to witness a big ODI hundred from a player so I'm making the most of it. I just think back to Haydos before his 2007 World Cup campaign. Not drawing comparisons, but drawing on positive memories looking ahead.
Seeing him end the game in the manner he did was a special moment to witness and it gave Watto, our team and all of us as supporters, something to smile about.
Brad Haddin, Michael Hussey and Cam White all provided crucial support as Watto muscled us to victory. They didn't put too much pressure on him, they rotated the strike and showed determination out there. Momentum didn't die and it allowed Watto to streamline his naturally aggressive limited overs characteristics with his batting at the top of the order.
I like Hads as an opening batsman as well as Huss still going about his limited overs business in a stealth like manner.
Michael Clarke was painful to watch. Sorry to write about a negative but it really was. He couldn't find the boundary and while you could say he offered support to Watto, I am sure I wasn't the only who noticed Watto ended up picking up quite a bit of flack and additional pressure with Pup's slow tempo.
I also heard the crowd on more than one occassion applaud Pup when he got off-strike. Whether they were English or Aussie supporters, I'm not sure. I still want Pup's limited overs game to come right.
So that's one win in the bag and six games remain.
The Ashes are done. The NSP still needs to be investigated and hopefully Hilditch will go, but we have to move on and stay focused on what's important now.
Winning this series and fine-tuning the players who will represent the Green & Gold at the World Cup, where we defend out title...again.
Support the boys and hopefully it won't just be the Shane Watson show.
A victory roar! If you saw the way Watto composed himself during his epic innings from ball 1 to the final ball which he dispatched for six, you had to sense his delight when the job was done. A brilliant innings from one of our best players.
© Getty Images, courtesy of Cricinfo.com
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