World Cups are cricket's Olympics, says Sindhis captain Watson

Source | Khaleej Times Nov 23, 2018

Sharjah: Sindhis captain Shane Watson rolled back the years with magnificent strokeplay in the first two games of the T10 League.

And the 37-year-old Australian, who quit international cricket in 2016, says he feels lucky to be playing the game even after saying goodbye to the Baggy Greens. 

“I am obviously very fortunate to still be playing at this stage of my career. Obviously, I am not playing international and first class cricket, but I’m still playing in some world-class leagues,” Watson told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview.

“It’s something I never really dreamed of. Here I am having an opportunity to play in a T10 tournament with a wonderful group of players in the Sindhis team,” he added. “I was always intrigued by how it was going to be like to play in a T10 tournament. And it’s definitely bigger than I expected.”

But unlike some other big names in the game, the former Australia captain refused to speculate if the T10 format gives cricket a chance to become an Olympic sport.  

“The Olympics is a very sacred event that comes around every four years,” he said.

“We are very fortunate that in cricket we have the World Cup and the World T20 Championships. From a selfish cricket point of view, it would be great to have cricket in Olympics and T10 format is certainly would go well at the Olympics.

“But my personal opinion is that Olympics is really made for sports for which the Olympics is the ultimate stage. We also have the ultimate stage which is playing cricket for the country 12 months a year,” he said. 

“The one-day and T20 World Cups are cricket’s Olympics. So I think we should leave the Olympics to the key individual sports.”

The most striking feature of the T10 tournament in Sharjah is that captains are not afraid of opening the bowling with spinners. 

Watson gave the new ball to the 47-year-old Pravin Tambe despite Chris Gayle coming out to open for Kerala Knights on Thursday.

Tambe dismissed Gayle in the second ball before taking three more wickets in the over to script Sindhis’ first win of the tournament. 

“Even in T20 cricket, the batsmen are trying to read the wickets and the conditions in the first over. You feel you might get away with an over with some high quality spin,” Watson says.

“Captains are trying to get their best spinners against someone like Chris Gayle for example. Leg spinners are pretty good against him. But we got lucky as he missed a full toss!” 

But his bowlers were not lucky in the first match when Afghan opener Mohammad Shahzad’s breathtaking 74 off 16 balls destroyed them in just four overs.

“It was one of the most special innings I have ever seen in any format of the game,” Watson admitted. 

“People probably thought getting 74 off 16 balls was impossible, but I saw it with my own eyes. The awesome thing is that they were really good cricket shots. 

“He has got incredible skills. You need incredible talent to do that. That just doesn’t happen if you don’t have the skills.