Watson prepares for poignant outing
Australia all-rounder Shane Watson expects Sunday’s fifth one-day international against England in Brisbane to be an emotional day following the devastating floods that affected the city and its surrounding area earlier this month.
The match will take place amid a backdrop of goodwill after Cricket Australia announced it would be used as a fundraiser for the victims of the flooding, which claimed the lives of 22 people.
CA and the Australian Cricketers’ Association have already helped to raise Aus$4million while both sets of players donated some of their match fees from the first Twenty20 in Adelaide to the Premier’s Flood Relief Fund.
Watson has become a prominent figure in the wake of the tragedy after returning to his home town of Ipswich, which was one of the hardest hit areas, to help out with the clean-up operation.
His team-mates joined him today in nearby Goodna, on the outskirts of Brisbane, to lend their support with the 29-year-old admitting he had still not come to terms with the devastation sustained by an area he grew up in.
Watson is hoping, however, Australia can provide some cheer with a series-clinching win at the Gabba on Sunday.
“It’s going to be a very emotional day and hopefully that can help pull us over the line and win the series,” he said.
“Cricket Australia have earmarked it as a big day to raise funds.
“One of the very special things that we have as playing for Australia, the opportunity to put smiles on kids’ faces even if it’s for a split second to take their minds of the deep-rooted scars for the young kids who have been so badly affected.
“We are in a very lucky position to try and make some difference.
“It’s great that we can show our support because it’s been devastating for families out here.”
Watson’s fellow Queenslander Mitchell Johnson returned to his home state for the first time since the floods and admitted he was taken aback by the scale of the damage.
“It’s unbelievable. I’d heard a lot of stories from family and friends so to be here today to try and put a smile on these kids’ faces, they’ve been hit pretty hard, it’s good we can be here,” he said.
“Just driving through now and seeing where the levels were.
“Shane showed me some photos of the water. It does blow you away and it’s hard to believe.
“The Queensland spirit is nice and strong and we are sticking behind each other. The day after it all happened you saw the pictures of everyone lending a hand, digging that mud up, and doing everything they can.
“It’s just great to see the kids out here enjoying themselves. It’s a little piece of what we can do.
“We’ve got a big game coming up on Sunday and we’ve shown a lot of support by putting our match fees in and a few other things so it’s just great to be here.”
Johnson will be hoping to return to Australia’s team on Sunday after missing the past three games due to illness.
His spell on the sidelines has come at an inopportune times with the left-armer not assured of being a World Cup starter following a period of patchy form.
Johnson has plenty of competition for his place with fast bowlers Brett Lee and Shaun Tait part of the 15-man World Cup squad, while fellow left-armer Doug Bollinger has arguably been Australia’s best one-day bowler over the past 12 months.
“I’m certainly looking forward to getting back and playing again,” he added.
“It was hard sitting back on Australia Day and not being able to play, it’s one of the ones you want to take part in. Coming here on Sunday, back on home turf, hopefully I’ll get a game and be able to raise some more money.
“I want to get out there and play as much as I can before a big World Cup. We want to win this series as well as we can.
“I’ve felt I haven’t quite been at my best, but not too far away. Your luck can change.
“If I can get out there and play well in the next couple of games that will give me a lot more confidence going into the World Cup.”