Can Watson emulate Flintoff’s feat in Ashes?
England's Andrew Flintoff, on his knees, is congratulated by teammates after bowling the wicket of Australia's Peter Siddle. AAP Images
In times of need, supporters begin to wish. After the 2005 Ashes series, Australian cricket fans had a wish.
They wished for a man who could bat with aggression and skill and make hundreds that would change games.
They also wished that this man could bowl with skill and intimidate the opposition with pace and bounce.
Fans had just seen an English equivalent, Andrew Flintoff. Flintoff had just taken England to an unlikely Ashes victory on the back of his aggressive batting and intimidatory bowling. Suddenly, a man appeared or probably, more accurately, was thrust forward.
His name is Shane Watson. Those who had seen him play saw a young man who could bat with the fluency and aggression of a Ricky Ponting. They also saw a man who could bowl with genuine speed and skill.
And importantly, they saw a character capable of getting into the head of the opposition.
Near enough to eight years on, Australian cricket fans are currently being granted their wish. Watson is currently everything to Australia that Flintoff was to England. Watson displays a high level of skill with both the bat and ball, as did Flintoff. \
Both players have the ability to dictate to an attack and change games quickly.
However, that’s where the positive comparisons end. Like Flintoff, Watson has spent large amounts time on the sideline. Like Flintoff, Watson has become an enigma, a man full of skill and talent who is hardly ever seen using it correctly. And like Flintoff, he’s a character who on his day can inspire their team, but more often than not is seen sulking either on the field or in the dressing room.
But unlike Flintoff, Watson still has time to change and live up to the judgements of his skills at the start of his career. He may finally be able to grant the cricket followers the wish of seeing a true all-rounder in their team.