The accusation has
often been levelled at Shane Watson that he spends more time at the beach or
sculpting his biceps in the gym than he does in the nets, but his incredible career-best
161 showed his class at the MCG.
Watto is renowned
for his penchant for curling beach weights during Australia training sessions
instead of honing his cover drive or working on his off-cutters, and his
consistent but unremarkable season has been overshadowed by his apparent
inability to convert a half-century.
But the all-rounder
was utterly faultless and unerring in what Graham Gooch would term his 'Daddy
100' as he plundered boundaries at a remarkable rate to see the hosts beyond England's
There was enough
drama before the match had got underway to fill a highlights reel as Paul
Collingwood was dropped with Andrew Strauss assuring the out-of-nick batsman
that a break would be best for him and, more importantly, for the team.
'body of glass' Shaun Tait was sidelined by his weekly back strain and a hefty
dose of eagerness saw Mr Cricket Mike Hussey shake off an apparent groin
problem. That was not all...
frankly absurd Meat Loaf-esque rock renditions of the national anthems brought
more hilarity to the pre-match frivolities, shortly after Mark Nicholas sported
an atrocious blue suit and flares as he interrogated Strauss and Michael Clarke
at the toss. The two captains were not without embarrassment either, as each wore
lurid yellow Dennis Lillee-style headbands and looked suitably sheepish for the
commentators dressed in retro-mode to mark 40 years of one-dayers as the
old-timers carried off outrageous wigs, handlebar moustaches and ridiculously
Watto's day began
in inauspicious fashion as he grounded a simple catch at cover to hand Stephen
Davies an early reprieve, and there was literally steam billowing from Doug
Bollinger's toupee as he collected his cap after a 14-run over which had
everything to do with shoddy fielding.
Brad Haddin had an absolute 'mare behind the
stumps as he inexplicably missed two stumpings which even Kamran Akmal would
have made at the second attempt.
But Haddin was in
better form with the willow in hand after he ditched the webbed gloves and
accompanied Watson in their highest ever opening stand.
There was one
occasion when Watson could have been snaffled en route to his magnificent
century, but Jonathan Trott followed his eight-ball six with a both comical and
bewildering trip over his own feet at midwicket as a potential catch went
What made Watto's
knock all the more remarkable was the fact that he had to carry Australia at
six runs per over in spite of his skipper Clarke, whose batting was so dour
that he copped persistent flak from his own supporters with every dot ball greeted
by a hysterical round of boos and ironic cheers.
Indeed, perhaps the
lost the game was when the tourists sent Clarke back to the dugout as a
painstaking innings was extinguished by Timmy Bresnan, who was blissfully
unaware of the consequences of his short-sighted pursuit of the captain's
But the day was all
about Watson, and the opener fought off monumental bouts of cramp (judging from
his bulging repertoire of grimaces, winces and sighs of apparent agony) to lead
his side to victory in the final over.
tonk over long on off the bowling of Shahzad saw Australia seal the win and perhaps
his career-best knock will inspire him to finally realise his immense potential
with this year's World Cup a perfect stage to showcase his talent.
SHOT OF THE DAY: Chris Tremlett's bowling was best
forgotten in every respect, but the enormous seamer's astonishing hoik over
long on for six off the bowling of Johnson will live long in the memory of all
but the hopelessly erratic paceman.
STAT OF THE DAY: KP notched up his first 50 in ODIs
since his century against India
back in November 2008.
USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: Watson is like a big cuddly Labrador who just shakes his hair and hopes that
everything will be alright. (Suz provides the Australia beef cake with some
feedback he may not be too proud to share with the lads drinking VB at the pub
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