South Africa did well to contain Shane Watson in the four Tests he played against them.
Of the 3 731 runs he scored in 59 Tests overall, he was able to gather just 195 against the likes of Dale Steyn and Co, with a best of 88. On the bowling front, his greatest moment came in 2011, when he took 5-17.
We may yet see him in ODIs, but even there he has not excelled. He played 16 against the Proteas, scoring 333, with a highest score of 82 in the fifth match of the 2014 series, when the Proteas had already lost the series and were thinking of home. He certainly didn’t play a match-winning innings with the ball either, his best being 2-46 in Cape Town in 2006.
Here are his highlights:
5 for 17 – First Test, Cape Town 2011
Watson had managed a couple of five-fors against Pakistan in England, which were incisive, but he was irrepressible on seaming wickets, and he got it perfect at Newlands. Between lunch and tea on day two, he swung the ball subtly, helping to engineer a collapse which saw nine wickets go down in 11 overs. Hashim Amla, Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince and Mark Boucher all fell to his wiles, which included a zippy bouncer for variation. But those were strange days at Newlands: in the following innings, Australia crumbled to 47 all out , which rather undermined Watson’s achievements.
88 – Second Test, Johannesburg 2011
This innings came mere days after the Cape Town debacle, in a fine opening stand with Phil Hughes (also 88). Simon Katich had brought the best out of Watson at the top of the order, and his batting dropped away unmistakably after the selectors chose to jettison the older man. Hughes and Watson could not make their union work, but at the Wanderers they managed to keep out Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel for more than three hours while adding a handsome 174. The degree of difficulty in this partnership was to be shown by the rush of wickets that followed it, but the foothold of Watson and Hughes allowed Australia’s nervy batsmen to stay in the game, and a memorable win arrived two days later.
82 – (ODI) Sydney 2014
With the ODI series already lost, AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn both sat out. Quinton De Kock assembled a sturdy hundred, and Farhaan Behardien’s late hitting – including an inside-out six over cover off Mitchell Starc – catapulted him into World Cup contention. A pair of brief showers reduced Australia’s target by six runs and two overs, but Watson took advantage of Steyn’s absence to bring it within reach. His 82 came off 93 balls with seven fours and three sixes. He was ably backed by Aaron Finch (76) and Steve Smith (67). Robin Peterson played a large part in ushering a rush of wickets in the final straight, leaving James Faulkner to scramble the winning runs.