Shane Watson is having a good time with his new franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK). In an interview with Bangalore Mirror, he spoke about playing cricket at this stage of his career.
"I’m not sure if it is the second wind because I have had a few winds in my career. It is nice to be playing still at this stage of my career. I have had good time for the last four-five months, since Big Bash League. IPL was a catalyst for my international career, particularly after the 2008 IPL. The last few years did not go well for me and I feel fortunate to be picked again. I’m just loving the opportunity to play for Chennai Super Kings which has a strong leadership," he said.
Watson rated this season as one of his best in IPL. When asked about if it is even better than his IPL season in 2008, he said, "I am not sure about that either. Because I had a good year and then another good year. But, yes, this is definitely one of the top periods I have had in the IPL. I am thankful to MS (Dhoni) and coaching staff of Stephen Fleming for the batting opportunities given to me. I have never imagined that I will get this kind of opportunity in the best Twenty20 tournament in the world. When one retires from international cricket, that is normally the end of one’s career. But I have been fortunate."
The 36-year-old said the form in this season is an impact of a good run in last few tournaments. "It is really the period leading up to this IPL. It started in September when I got into shape for batting and bowling. The Big Bash was good too. Most importantly, when the end is nearer, one should enjoy the opportunity and I am enjoying that," the CSK opener said.
Watson seems to be impressed with the fan base of Chennai franchise. He called it a special experience. "It is an incredible franchise. Its fan base as well as MS Dhoni’s fan base are super strong. I had a great experience with other franchises as well. I had some good years with Rajasthan Royals, where I had some strong friendships. Time moves on. I had a great time at RCB with Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle. It’s been special experience at CSK too," he stated.
When asked about rating the CSK skipper MS Dhoni, Watson was very clear. "When I played for Australia and other franchises, I’ve watched him from far earlier. I thought he is incredibly calm. What I saw of him on the field playing against him is exactly what I see him playing with him. He has bailed us out a lot of times and he is able to handle the expectations and pressures very well," he said.
On Dhoni's batting, he added, "Look, he is batting as well as he ever had. The way Dhoni is playing he can play for as long as he wants. He is an inspiration for many."
Experience has come handy for Chennai. They were earlier made a laughing stock for having a group of senior players.
"You can’t buy experience. Besides, experienced players are more consistent under pressure situations. When the mental desire is strong, the experienced team gets to do well. Also, Stephen Fleming is one of the best coaches I have played under. These things don’t happen by luck. It happens by choice. Someone has made the right choices," Watson said.
Players suffer from injuries at some point in their career. Youngsters sometimes lose their ability because of the injuries. The former Aussie shared mantra to fight injury. "One of my huge challenges was injuries, no doubt but different people have different challenges. You need to have a burning desire to be the best you can be. That is the key. You should not give up and continue to learn from every injury," he said.
No doubt cricket has evolved a lot and Watson is one of the players who has experienced it. From IPL 1 to 11, he spoke about the changes. "Initially, there was a bit more glamour in the tournament, after parties and all that. The tournament is becoming stronger and stronger. It has helped Indian cricket significantly. In helping young Indian cricketers. As we can see, the young Indian stars that are coming through, like Prithvi Shaw in Delhi, (Shubhman) Gill and Shivam (Mavi) in Kolkata, are performing very well in one of the best T20 tournaments in the world. The IPL is helping Indian cricket."
The veteran also commented on the recent controversy, Sandpapergate. "So much has been said and written. These guys have paid a heavy price. They will most certainly learn their lessons from it," he said.