Is this the end? If sport were solely an entertainment business, Shane Watson would be the greatest cricketer in history. Unfortunately, though, ‘performances’ are a crucial part of being a top level sportsman. In that field, Watto has fallen short. He’s staring into the cricketing abyss having just been dealt the ultimate indignity of being replaced by Mitch Marsh at Lord’s.
How did it all come to this? It might be fair to say the problems started the first time he lumped his giant left leg down the pitch. They were further exacerbated when the ball hit it, and more still when it kept happening every single innings. And frankly the launch of DRS was a disaster for poor Watto.
As it is, with his career ebbing away, he belongs to a very, very exclusive club of players who’ve a) been found out by England and b) pretty much been totally ruined by the ruthlessness of England’s bowling. The infamous zip-thud-review-lol which has become a Watto staple wasn’t always the way. There were no debut LBW shenanigans to set the tone for things to come; in fact he managed to stave off falling leg-before all the way to his second Test (well, Test-ish. The ICC Super Series Test so beloved by Mr Nichael Bluth of this parish). After that it was three years before he was struck down again – which equals about 4.5 matches in Watto world.
But it wasn’t until 2009, a bump up to open and an Ashes tour that everything really started to go south. 62 LBW Onions in Birmingham, 51 LBW Onions at Headingley, 34 LBW Broad at the Oval and 40 LBW Broad at, er, the Oval again: four LBW dismissals in five innings and a legend was born. Between the end of the 2009 Ashes and the beginning of the 2010/11 edition, though, only four more came along in 21 innings.
It’s probably that 2010/11 series which really cemented Watto as a truly tragicomic figure. He kept doing quite well, but then he kept getting out and the sheer inevitability of his wicket whenever he looked like he might get a proper score this time became overwhelming. This, of course, was the era of “awwwwwwww no“, but that was an edge behind; he didn’t actually get out leg before that much – twice in Perth and once at the MCG – but by then the mud was sticking. By then the England players were pissing themselves at the sight of the latest incredulous, forlorn review. Perhaps the moral of this sad Watto story is that getting out hilariously is terrible for your reputation. When opposition players are literally laughing at you on the pitch, that’s not good.
Again after the awesome Ashes of 2010/11 the LBW lay dormant until the start of the UberAshes in 2013: just five dismissals in two years, followed by four more in the space of a month. Trent Bridge, Lord’s (twice) and Durham the scenes of these crimes as the Watto world tour continued. With the addition of Cardiff (twice) last week, only Old Trafford and the lesser-spotted
Rose Digitas Bowl have yet to witness the Watson LBW in a Test match in England. Manchester is a venue in 2019, the question is: will there be there one last hurrah?