Have so many memories of the ICC Champions Trophy tournaments that provided significant moments in my international career, writes Shane Watson
Shane Watson played 59 Tests, 190 ODIs and 58 T20Is for Australia from 2002 to 2016, scoring a total of 10,950 international runs and taking a total of 291 international wickets. He was a member of the Australia side, which won the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2007, and the ICC Champions Trophy in 2006 and 2009.
With the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 on the horizon in the United Kingdom, it has made me reflect on all the things that I have always loved about such a special tournament.
The ICC Champions Trophy is another incredible opportunity as a cricketer to be able to test your skills under serious pressure of matches against the world’s best players and teams. For me personally, the ICC Champions Trophy in 2009 was really the first time that I felt like I belonged to the international stage knowing that I was able to contribute in a strong way to my country winning the tournament.
I know all the players really look forward to the ICC tournaments, whether it is the 50-over World Cup, the World Twenty20 or the Champions Trophy. These tournaments have very specific context as there is a champion at the end and there is always so much riding on every single game. It’s not just another five-match series, which a lot of the time have dead rubbers, which the viewing public as well as the players certainly don’t enjoy as much.
The ICC Champions Trophy in particular is a very cut-throat competition. As a team, you have to hit the ground running as you really don’t have much chance of a slip up. If your team does, then you have to be back at your best for the next big game, to give yourself the best chance of getting through to the next stage. These are the stakes that are riding on every game and this is what really excites all players as well as the fans who are watching the game. Knowing that if your team is slightly off, you could be heading home early and no one wants to be in that position.
I have so many memories of the ICC Champions Trophy tournaments that provided significant moments in my international career.
The first one was playing in the semi-final against Sri Lanka at the Premadasa Stadium as a 21-year-old. I remember the incredible Australian team that I was ridiculously fortunate to be in, had been spun out on a turning track and the noise that the local Sri Lanka crowd made was something that I had never heard before. In 2004, we lost to England in the semi-final which I was on the bench for and I can still remember sitting in the bus on the way home from the ground and everyone was very disappointed as the Champions Trophy continued to elude us.
Then, there was the turn around by a very similar team in the 2006 event in India. Our team was desperate to have this trophy in our growing trophy cabinet and outside of a hiccup against the West Indies in the first round, we played incredibly well to culminate in myself being on the field, batting with Damien Martyn as we won a rain-reduced final. Those celebrations were very special for everyone and for me personally, to be able to share such a significant win with a number of my cricketing heroes such as Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Glenn McGrath, just to name a few, are memories that I will cherish forever.
Finally, the 2009 edition of the Champions Trophy in South Africa was the first time that I really felt like I belonged at the international level. Our team was significantly different to the team that won in 2006 which made this win even more special. We just scraped through in the round stages against Pakistan, but then we really turned it on in the semi-final against England and then in the final against New Zealand.
These last two games in particular, really were the making of me as an international all-rounder. I only ever dreamed of being able to perform like I did in those last two games, so for that dream to become a reality, instilled an incredible confidence and belief in my cricketing abilities. My lasting image of the 2009 Champions Trophy win was our team standing on the podium wearing our beautiful new white jackets and reveling in what we had just achieved.
This upcoming Champions Trophy, I am sure, will provide an opportunity for an individual to be able to turn his dreams into reality. And from a team perspective, accomplish something incredibly special that provides memories that will last a lifetime.
Long may the ICC Champions Trophy continue!
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