London: Shane Watson, the Australia allrounder, believes West Indies are the team to beat at the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September.
“I actually think the West Indies are going to be the team to beat. They have got a really well balanced team that has played a lot of high quality Twenty20 cricket around the world and they certainly know how to perform under pressure. I think they have got the firepower to give a lot of teams a big surprise,” Watson told Cricket 360°, the ICC’s new weekly multi-platform show.
Australia ended as runners-up in the previous edition of the tournament, losing to England in the Caribbean, but Watson believed the team were better placed this year owing to the fact that so many of their players had gained experience playing in Twenty20 leagues across the globe.
The Australia allrounder believes West Indies will be key contenders in September's tournament in Sri Lanka.
“It (Twenty20) is a format in which we still haven’t been able to play well consistently against other countries in the world. We made the final in the last ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies and in the end we were pipped by England but since then we haven’t played consistently well, so we are really going to have to step up our Twenty20 game,” he said. “With a change in players and the experience of playing in different Twenty20 leagues, it means hopefully we can step up when we really need to.”
Australia are in England to play five ODIs against the hosts, starting Friday at Lord’s. Michael Clarke’s side have struggled since the 2011 World Cup, winning just over half of the matches played, but Watson was confident of their chances this summer.
“It is going to be a huge series. It is a great lead-in to next year’s Ashes and there is no doubt we have to be at our absolute best for that one-day series so our preparation is going to be very important, as is the way we perform. It is the first time for us with a slightly newer group of cricketers, a new coach Mickey Arthur and a new structure around us,” he said.
Injuries have limited Watson’s international fixtures over the Australia summer – he missed the home Tests against India – but was hopeful he had put them behind. “I’ve learnt a lot about the way I am going to get the best out of myself as an all-rounder, about my bowling workload and what my body can do. I am trying to find the best ways to give myself the best chance of not getting injured,” he said. “In the three months during the summer when I was injured, I learnt a lot and I have put a few things in place again to make sure that I am doing everything I can to give myself the best chance I can of staying fit.”