Watson Lauds Head, Cummins After Dominant ODI World Cup Triumph
ODI World Cup: Two-time World Cup winner Shane Watson has led the praise of Travis Head and Pat Cummins after Australia's ICC Men's Cricket World Cup victory over hosts India in Ahmedabad.
Taking a superb catch running into the outfield to dismiss the dangerous Rohit Sharma (47 from 31 balls) and wrestle momentum, Head kickstarted Australia's push to keep the hosts to 241.
The pressure was on Head when Australia slipped to 47/3 in search of a target of 241. survived a tricky early period against an imperious fast bowling attack to finish with 137 (120) to his name, taking Australia from 47/3 to 239/4 with Marnus Labuschagne (58*) inside 43 over, all but taking Australia to victory.
Head watched on as Maxwell hit the winning runs, before being crowned Player of the Match for his exploits.
Speaking on the latest episode of The ICC Review podcast after Australia's sixth Cricket World Cup title, Watson lauded the opening batter's continued aggression when so many others would have crept into their shell.
"There's no question that he's a high risk, high reward batter. He takes the game on. Once he finds his groove, as we saw after probably about 50 or 60 runs, then he was just in overdrive. And then he was just really in, whenever he wanted to hit the ball to the boundary he did," Watson noted.
Head didn’t play a part in the first half of Australia’s campaign, remaining back home to help his recovery from a broken hand before joining the squad midway through the tournament.
He stormed back into form with a century on his return against New Zealand during group stage action, before Player of the Month performances in the semi-final against South Africa and in Sunday's trophy-claiming victory.
Watson was quick to acknowledge how important it was for him to make immediate impact given his importance to the team's balance.
"With no cricket to be had, to come into a World Cup, getting a hundred against a high-quality New Zealand bowling attack, and then to be able to replicate that in a semi-final against South Africa. The firepower that he possesses. And then the final.
"There's no question that Travis Head in the way he's really reformed himself as a player and as a performer for Australia across all formats of the game has been just through that freedom and fearless way that he's been playing," said Watson.
"He's been a revelation for Australia at the top of the order for sure. The way he's been batting in one day cricket and we had to do it in India in a final, in challenging conditions, one the atmosphere for sure, but these conditions here today certainly were fairly different to what he's used to batting in Australia, for example, and where he got brought up.
"To be able to do that in these conditions as well as shows something of a very, very high quality," he added.
Cummins came under question after two early defeats to begin the tournament. But Watson saluted Cummins' cool and said: "The decisions he made today, his tactics were absolutely spot on," Watson said.
"His ability to be able to galvanise his team and whatever they did to turn things around after that second game, the coach, the support staff and Pat Cummins in the leadership group of the Australian team, whatever they did, they really turned it around and turned it on.
"He's not an experienced captain, even coming into this World Cup, he’d only captained Australia in one day in a handful of occasions."