Australia’s Shane Watson retires from Tests

Shane Watson departs after Ben Stokes took his wicket for 39 runs in the second ODI match. Picture: PA
Shane Watson departs after Ben Stokes took his wicket for 39 runs in the second ODI match. Picture: PA
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Australia all-rounder Shane Watson says he has lost the “fight” to continue his Test cricket career after announcing his decision to follow captain Michael Clarke into retirement at the age of 34.

Watson won 59 Test caps, the last of which came in the opening match of this summer’s Ashes at Cardiff where England won by 169 runs, and admitted he reached the decision to quit with a hint of regret.

Cricket Australia revealed Watson’s decision on its website on Sunday, coinciding with Watson being ruled out of the rest of the Royal London one-day international series by a calf injury sustained in the tourists’ victory at Lord’s on Saturday.

Watson said: “It’s been a decision that hasn’t come about lightly, over the past month especially, but I just know it’s the right time to be able to move on and still, hopefully, play the shorter formats of the game.

“I just know that I’ve given everything I possibly can to get the best out of myself. I just think it’s time to move on. I don’t have that real fight in me, especially for Test cricket, knowing the lengths physically I have to go to, and mentally and technically as well, to be able to get back to my best again in Test cricket.

“I haven’t achieved certainly all the things I dreamed of achieving in Test cricket – average 50 with the bat and in the 20s with the ball. That’s obviously the dream as an all-rounder to achieve and obviously I didn’t get anywhere near that, but I do know I gave it everything I 
possibly could to be able to get the best out of myself. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

Watson, an Ashes winner in 2013-14, began and ended his Test career in the Australia middle order but it was as an opener that he enjoyed most success in the five-day game.

First pressed into the role 
during the 2009 Ashes in England, Watson made a success of the promotion and stayed at the top of the Australian order for over two years before spending the rest of his Test career in varying roles.

Between his regular opening stint and retirement, he batted in every slot in the top six. His Test career ends with a haul of 3,731 runs at 35.19, including four centuries, two of which came in Ashes contests. With the ball, fast-medium bowler Watson took 75 wickets at 33.68.

A series of injuries in recent years had hampered Watson’s progress but he insisted he had not started to consider retirement from Test cricket until this summer’s Ashes tour when he failed to regain his place after the opening match.

Watson added: “It’s really been over the past month, when things haven’t turned out to plan, that I knew it was getting close to the right time.

“Over the last couple of days there was a lot of clarity [for me] of what the right decision was. I just know that I’ve given 
everything I possibly can to get the best out of myself.”

Australia head coach Darren Lehmann paid tribute to Watson, recalling the player’s “outstanding” contribution both on and off the pitch. Lehmann said: “Shane has been a fantastic servant for Australia in Test cricket and he has had a terrific career in that format.

“He has been an outstanding contributor to the team on and off the field and a great thinker on the game, as well as a hugely talented cricketer.

“Behind the scenes he has done so much work with our younger players, and that has been something that has really impressed me.”