SYDNEY: Conceding that the T20 call up against India came as a "pleasant surprise", Australian all-rounder Shane Watson today said his familiarity with Indian cricket through IPL helped him in reviving his faltering international career.
After being dropped from the ODI side post last year's series against England, Watson had nearly given up hope on his international career, concentrating more on domestic T20 cricket like the Big Bash League. The 34-year-old batting all-rounder believes his performance for Sydney Thunder turned the tide in his favour.
"Yes, it came as a pleasant surprise to me. In the end it just came down to doing well for Sydney Thunder in BBL and whatever happened from there from the Aussie side of things, because after being dropped from the One-day side I knew my international days are nearly over, so nice to get that surprise and get the call from Rod Marsh yesterday," he told reporters here.
Asked whether he is eyeing the upcoming ICC World T20 in India, Watson said, "Yes, no doubt, that would be the next goal for sure. Being played in India and we haven't played incredibly well there in the previous few tournaments. It really comes down to me playing well for the Thunder this week in the finals if we are able to get through depending on the result. So just enjoying the moment before those days get done."
Watson's international career took off after being part of the Shane Warne-led Rajasthan Royals side which won the inaugural IPL edition in 2008. Since then he has been with the Rajasthan side till it was suspended this time around.
Watson admits that the IPL stint has played a big part in his return, especially before the T20 World Cup.
"It's nice to know that I have had lot of experience in India. Playing in the IPL and having some success as well. That was always going to give me more of an opportunity to get picked but it comes down to performance, so lucky to have performed over the last couple of games," he said. Having represented Australia in 190 ODIs, scoring 5757 runs and bagging 168 wickets, Watson is not too worried about his international future.
"No, I am not worrying about that after having been picked for the T20 team. Having not being picked for the Aussie one-dayers, I have closed that chapter in my cricket career. Still got plenty of cricket to be played, my cricket in all the world leagues and playing for different franchises," he replied to a query when asked whether he was also eyeing an ODI return.
Watson stressed that age is just a number to him.
"Look it feels nice to be the old guys in the side, though I do not feel as old at 34. But I think it's old nowadays with the amount of cricket played. It's nice to know that I can still contribute like I have for the last three-four games for Thunder," he said.
Watson also credited Thunder teammate and South African great Jacques Kallis for bringing about a huge improvement in his batting skill.
"Just working on getting back to my best, didn't matter in what format. More so getting back to my best batting wise, especially. Lucky to have one of the best batters to have played the game, Jacques Kallis, who helped me out over the last month. Just worked on a couple of new things and he has had an incredible impact on my batting," he said.
"He is one whom I have idiolised growing up and enjoyed seeing him bat. So knowing him and playing alongside him has been a huge privilege," Watson said.
Australian pacer Shaun Tait is also one of the surprise call ups in the T20 squad and Watson opined that the 32-year-old pacer's comeback is well deserved.
"I faced two balls. One was a very fast bouncer the other one I nicked off," Watson said.
"Shaun Tait's an X-factor. He always has been and it's great to see him back around the Aussie team. I still believe he has a lot to offer."
Watson is confident that the Aussies are well equipped to lift the World T20 title in India.
"We have certainly got the calibre of players to be able to win the T20 World up. But the format is fickle and you have to be absolutely at your best because performance from one player in the opposition can see you lose the game," he said.