Watto proves best again

THERE was not a prouder man on Monday night than Bob Watson as his son Shane was crowned Australia's best cricketer for the second successive year.

Bob was back in Ipswich from Melbourne late yesterday after spending the night celebrating with his son at the Crown Casino, following the Allan Border Medal awards ceremony.

He said his son's second Allan Border Medal was just as important as his first.

“He's become a bloody good cricketer hasn't he?” Bob Watson asked, knowing well the answer.

“They both mean a lot because to win that first one was a great achievement for Shane and a real surprise but to go back to back is very rare.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think Shane would get the accolades he has. What father would think that of his son?

“He's always been talented but you can't imagine anything like this. I put it down to his dogged determination to play for Australia ever since he was young.”

Meanwhile, Watson, who also took out Australian Test and one-day cricketer of the year awards on Monday night, has gone into bat for Cricket Australia's decision to retain the Sheffield Shield in its current format.

There were fears the first-class competition would be shortened to accommodate a revamped Twenty20 competition next summer. The competition, due to start in mid-December and run for slightly more than six weeks, will involve 31 matches.

State competitions will be put on hold for that period, but the Sheffield Shield will retain its current season length and structure, although each state will play two fewer one-day matches per season.

Watson said his own experience suggested the Shield needed to remain or Australia's Test prospects would suffer.

“I personally think so, yeah, because you need to get good consistent cricket under your belt as well,” he said.

“I know from a body point of view that you do have to get your body used to doing what it needs to do and that is playing consistent cricket for a longer period of time. Ten games of Shield cricket is a great challenge for your body to get through.

“If you make the next step up to international cricket, the schedule is all-year round, so it's something people need to get used to.”

Watson said while CA viewed a souped-up T20 tournament as very important, Shield cricket would always be the “backbone” of Australia's success in the game.

“They need to try to find the balance so it's not out of kilter a bit with too much Twenty20 cricket.”

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