Australia all-rounder Shane Watson has announced that he will end his international career following the ICC World Twenty20.
The 34-year-old retired from Tests last year after Australia’s unsuccessful Ashes campaign in England but opted to continue playing in the limited-overs formats.
While he has not featured in the one-day team since September 2015, the big-hitting batsman and seamer has been involved in both of Australia’s opening matches of the World T20. He is also likely to be involved in the must-win fixtures against Pakistan today and India on Sunday as Australia seek to join New Zealand in the semi-finals from Group Two of the Super 10 stage.
Watson, who still intends to compete in domestic T20 competitions, said on www.cricket.com.au: “It’s been over the last week that it’s really become clear that now really is the right time to retire from all international cricket.
“I’ve been playing with the thought for a few months now and I know now with the way the group is continuing to evolve, which is exciting to be able to see, with my young family as well, and seeing the potential of the international schedule is very hectic.
“And I just know it’s the right time to be able to right now clear my mind knowing that I’ve made the decision and be absolutely ready to go for these next two very important games.”
The Aussies meet Pakistan today in a crucial clash in Mohali with both sides’ World Twenty20 prospects on the line
India’s dramatic win over Bangladesh on Wednesday ramped up the pressure in a tight battle for a place in the last four.
Pakistan, who have lost twice, now have no margin for error while another defeat for Australia would be highly damaging to their hopes of progress. After emphatic defeats to India and New Zealand – described bluntly as “not good enough” by coach Waqar Younis – Pakistan have been facing the most scrutiny.
Their disappointing results have been accompanied by reports of disharmony and factions within the dressing room, and all-rounder Shoaib Malik has also had to dismiss claims he wants Shahid Afridi – who is also due to retire after the tournament – removed as captain.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Shoaib said: “Such rumours are bound to emerge, but let me clarify that they’re all baseless.
“We know that this is Lala’s [Afridi’s] last World Cup and I have the utmost respect for him. He is like an elder brother from whom I’ve learnt a lot and no other player will be happier than me if we can win the World T20 for him and give him the ideal send-off.
“During the 2009 World T20, six of us were not talking to each other. Despite that we won the tournament. There is nothing like that in the team at this stage.”
Even with victory, Pakistan will still need Australia to do them a favour and beat India in their final game and then rely on net run rate to progress to the semis.
Australia may have a little more room for manoeuvre but they could make the equation simple by winning their last two games.
The Aussies beat Bangladesh in their last outing but are still playing catch-up after losing their opener to the Kiwis.
Wicketkeeper Peter Nevill told the tournament’s website: “We are coming up to a very crucial match with Pakistan. I see it as a must-win game for us.
“It is about us putting in a complete performance, which we probably haven’t done yet. I feel if we do that it will be enough on the day.”