Watson bats for flooding victims
WITH a writhing queue of excited fans, an impatient media scrum and huge support entourage it could have been a visiting prime minister or pop star.
Instead, it was Australia's premier cricketer Shane Watson back in his home town to lend a hand following the floods.
Watson, fresh from his match-winning 161 not out against England at the MCG on Sunday, took it all in his stride, greeting fans and media at Bunnings, Booval before having a hit with the locals in flood-devastated David Street, North Booval.
He commiserated with those who suffered loss, shared memories with others who remembered him from his junior days of cricket in Ipswich and inspired the kids with kind words and a game of cricket.
“Last week, seeing what was happening, my head and my heart were here,” Watson said of watching from afar as Ipswich was inundated by the Bremer and Brisbane rivers.
He was with the Australian cricket team in Melbourne preparing for what would be the best innings of his career.
“I had a couple of games to prepare for, but knowing what was going on here in town I was worried for my family, but we were one of the lucky ones,” Watson said.
“I knew I had to come home to help out the place I know and love so much.”
Watson's parents were also in Melbourne and their Eastern Heights home was fine.
His sister Nicole was at her Flinders View home providing updates to a worried Watson throughout the crisis.
“I was watching it on the telly and was on the phone to my sister at home.
“I was so worried throughout, and when it started to peak I was calling my sister on the hour.
“For the two nights it was at its peak especially I didn't sleep that much.”
The television footage stunned him, but the reality when he arrived in Ipswich yesterday was just as shocking.
“Driving through Goodna and seeing the photos of how that was – I can't get my head around how so much water was in that place,” he said.
Watson was less surprised by the response of the people of Ipswich and Queensland, helping the region and state recover from its worst natural disaster.
“It's the Aussie spirit, isn't it?” he said.
“When things are not going how you want it they chip in.
“So many people's lives have been turned upside down and the Australian people are there to help out.
“It was really amazing to see all the volunteers come out already. There's no doubt over the past week it has been a heartbreaking time.
“Seeing Ipswich City engulfed by water was something I never thought I'd see.
“I'd heard dad talk about the 1974 levels, but seeing photos it was hard to fathom.”