Shane Watson has been a visible giant beast in this tournament; everyone has seen what he can do. Everyone one was waiting for him to fail. When he did he managed to bring Australia crashing down with him.
Other than Watson, the Aussie that everyone has been talking about is David Hussey. The most prolific run scorer in domestic T20 history, which is not really much of a history, but still. He’s also 23rd on the list of international T20 run scorers. He can bowl right arm fast offspin, and is a demon in the field.
If you were to build the perfect T20 player, you’d build Watson or Chris Gayle. If you were mass marketing T20 players, you’d sell millions of David Hussey.
Australian fans and Ian Chappell have been saying David Hussey’s name like he is the missing link between Australia winning or losing this tournament. Hussey’s spot is being taken by either the captain they’d never heard of, George Bailey, the re-cycled Cameron White, or the new man with the big ego, Glenn Maxwell.
Even when Hussey was a member of the middle order, it’s been seen as susceptible to spin and weak. But for four glorious games, they were not required. Watson had punched, smashed and crashed through anyone in Australia’s way. The middle order was only brought on when the opposition had been mentally broken.
Shane Watson couldn’t save them forever.
Australia had secret camps, brought in spinners from across their country, ventured into the desert and took on the beast of Ajmal, all so that they could be ready for this tournament and the wily mystery spinners they would have to handle. They handled the 18 overs of Pakistan spin (it would have been 20 if not for Shoaib Malik getting Mike Hussey treatment) much the same way you would a chest bursting alien popping out.
Every fear that the Aussies had that their middle order wasn’t up to scratch was ripped open. Bailey started well, but missed two short balls from Ajmal in a row. White hit a big six, before holing out. And Maxwell didn’t last long at all.
Australia’s batsmen were so poor that if Mike Hussey had not played the innings he did, Australia had put themselves in a position to go out of the tournament. Now sure, it may say more about a tournament where you can lose only one game and not qualify, or win only two and qualify, but that is just how much the Pakistani spinners dominated the Australian batsmen.
Play it awkwardly or try and hit it really hard seemed to be their main game plan, and it came unstuck with ease. Watson, Warner and Hussey have looked decisive, powerful and dismissive of spinners in this tournament. The rest of the batsmen have looked confused, limp and scared as they poked around uncertainly.
There will be calls for David Hussey to come straight back in. He can’t replace Bailey, but Maxwell and White could easily slip out of the side.
Maxwell is, in theory, safe because of his bowling. But in five matches he’s bowled only seven overs, and it seems that one or two a night is his limit. White helps out with tactics, but in the subcontinent often bats a bit like a lumbering dinosaur trying to catch prey that is far quicker than him. When he catches it, he kills it, but he often goes hungry.
And all those calling for David Hussey’s imminent return should see his record from the UAE, but not if they have a full stomach. He made 13, 3, 0, 43, 3 and 1 on that tour, which is why the selectors went for White and Maxwell in the first place.
While David Hussey might not be the answer, if the selectors do want to bring him in to bolster the middle order, in case of Watson emergencies, they can without losing Maxwell or White.
Brad Hogg has taken two wickets in five matches, his economy rate is 7.55, but his fielding and batting are not the Brad Hogg of his teens, twenties or even thirties. Against Pakistan the man with Test batting average of 26 and first-class average of 35 watched Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins bat before him. Hogg has not been the success story that Australia would have hoped for.
Regardless of whether Hussey, Maxwell, White or Hogg play, it now looks like Australia can only win this tournament they don’t play Pakistan in the final or Watson continues to be the beast.
Watson is only one man, but as Australia scrambled around against spin, he felt like more than that.