In the eyes of the cricketing world, Shane Watson is the quintessential Australian. A striking physical specimen, he bats and bowls aggressively, sledges like a navvy and looks like he’s just stepped off a surfboard and into his whites. However, the modern incarnation of Australia’s premier allrounder is not as one-dimensional as often portrayed. Necessity has installed Watson at the top of his country’s batting order, injury has shaped his considered, wicket-to-wicket bowling style and maturity has elevated him to the vice-captaincy. Watson has arrived at the highpoint of his career the hard way. By the time he secured his place in Australia’s line-up, he was at his third state and fighting to overcome many and varied injuries. Despite making his first-class debut in 2001 and appearing in both one-day internationals and Tests before the end of 2005, it wasn’t until 2009 that he could claim to be a regular international cricketer. A training-regimen change proved the catalyst, and as stretching replaced sculpting, Watson’s abundant talent was afforded the physical security to flourish. The breakthrough arrived at Edgbaston in the 2009 Ashes when Watson, hitherto considered a middle-order dasher, was invited to open the batting. In his first match at the top of the card, he struck 50s in each innings and hasn’t looked back since. He responds to the force of the new ball in kind, asserting himself at the crease with savage square-drives and a forward defence as purposeful as any in the modern game. His conversion rate of fifties to hundreds restricts his average below 40, but he rarely fails, and he has a happy knack of contributing with the ball when he does. Watson is now a key component of a developing Australian side. He is Michael Clarke’s first lieutenant, his country’s batting enforcer and with the ball, its partnership-breaker. His versatility will doubtless bring with it role changes over the coming months as Australia’s new administration seeks to find a winning formula, but his involvement at the highest level, after years of toil, is now guaranteed.