Shane Watson knows he’s a tease, but the star allrounder hopes he’s finally found the key to unlocking his undoubted potential.
Watson’s brilliant century in the third Test in Perth highlighted what a special talent he is.
But it only came about after the 32-year-old employed a freewheeling mindset in a bid to get out of his form slump.
At his best, Watson is one of the world’s most destructive allrounders.
He’s not quite at the level of South Africa’s Jacques Kallis, but no one is.
The problem with Watson has been his inconsistency, plus a litany of injuries.
On the 25 occasions Watson has made it to 50, he’s gone on to make a ton just four times.
Watson walked to the crease in Perth under the pump following a series of low scores.
His first-innings dismissal for 18 – wafting at a wide Stuart Broad delivery – heaped further pressure on him.
But a licence to thrill in the second dig allowed him to shine, with his quick-fire knock of 103 helping Australia regain the Ashes for the first time since 2007.
Importantly for Watson, the knock has given him a template for future success.
“In the first innings, it’s as disappointed as I’ve ever been in getting out – just knowing I wasn’t being my absolute self out there,” Watson said on Wednesday after a big night of celebrations with his teammates.
“But from ball one in the second innings, I just went out there and made sure I was taking on the game. That’s when I’m batting at my best.
“It’s more so just trying to have the same mentality – having that intent and taking on the bowlers.”
Watson also snared two key wickets from 23 overs in Perth to help lift Australia to an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series heading into the Boxing Day Test.
The 49-Test veteran described the Ashes triumph as the most special experience of his career.
And he said a large portion of Australia’s success can be attributed to coach Darren Lehmann.
“He’s brought the fun back to us playing cricket for Australia,” Watson said.
“It certainly got quite regimented there for quite a while, and that’s not getting the best out of anyone.
“So Darren immediately made sure that we were enjoying ourselves on and off the field, and also taught us to learn from our mistakes.”
Australia have already set their sights on recording a 5-0 series sweep after dominating England in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
But their preparations for Melbourne will be slightly compromised after star opener David Warner, Steve Smith and George Bailey were granted permission to play for their Twenty20 Big Bash teams this weekend.
England captain Alastair Cook says his team is devastated to relinquish the urn in such limp fashion.
And out-of-form wicketkeeper Matt Prior could pay the price, with Jonny Bairstow in line to replace the 75-Test veteran.
BATTLE OF THE ALL-ROUNDERS:
SHANE WATSON (Australia)
*Average with bat: 35.93 with 4 centuries
*Average with ball: 31.88 with 67 wickets
JACQUES KALLIS (South Africa)
*Average with bat: 55.44 with 44 centuries
*Average with ball: 32.61 with 288 wickets