Watson comes of age
Shane Watson’s plan to bat through the innings reaped dividends as Australia retained the ICC Champions Trophy with a six-wicket win over New Zealand.
The opener hit his second unbeaten hundred in four days to seal success at Centurion, after injury-hit New Zealand were restricted to 200 for nine.
However, the game was in the balance when Australia were reduced to six for two in the third over of their chase.
It took a 128-run alliance between Watson, who finished 105 not out, and Cameron White, who made 62, to break the back of the chase.
“We definitely needed discipline at the start of the innings,” said Watson, who made 136 not out in the semi-final win over England last Friday.
“Both Shane Bond and Kyle Mills bowled very well with the new ball but I knew if I was there around the 40-over mark we would have a great chance of winning. For us to win this tournament is a great achievement for the group.”
This was Australia’s fourth win in the past five global 50-over tournaments, and concluded a successful month in one-day cricket which began with a 6-1 victory over England in the NatWest Series.
Watson has finally established himself as an world-class all-rounder in that period and captain Ricky Ponting - named player of the tournament - was full of praise for the man closest to him in the run-scoring charts.
“In the last couple of months we have seen the real Shane Watson,” Ponting said. “Getting his opportunity in the Ashes to open the batting, he played beautifully, and he is now showing with his bowling what a cricketer he can be.”
Watson swung Jeetan Patel for successive sixes over deep midwicket to go to a 129-ball hundred and complete a comprehensive victory, bringing the curtain down on a competition that began with him making two ducks.
Ponting, who followed Tim Paine in falling to the new ball, also saluted the maturity shown by Watson and White on the grandest stage.
“You can't get a much harder situation than you did tonight. You’re in a big game, you’re in a final, you're chasing a low score, you’re two for six and you've got two relatively young guys at the crease," Ponting said.
“It doesn’t get any tougher than that. To see them get us across the line was very satisfying.
“As a team, we pride ourselves on adapting to different conditions around the world. Generally we find people to stand up in these situations and Shane and Cameron White did it.
“This is a very special achievement and if you look at the Australian cricket team, the ups and downs we’ve been through over the last 18 months, then I think this is a real positive for us.
“It’s great to see now that we’re getting more experience in some of the younger guys that they’re starting to make major impacts on the international game, as Shane has done over the past few days.”