Ipswich’s Shane Watson is a cricketer of many achievements, from captaining his country in every form of the game to striker of the highest score by an Australian in one-day internationals.
His father Bob Watson believes his most recent recognition – officially naming the bottom cricket oval at Jim Donald Parklands, Eastern Heights as Shane Watson Oval – rates well among the honours.
“It really tugs the heartstrings that our son Shane has a cricket oval named after him so close to where he grew up,” Mr Watson said.
“Shane’s 95-year-old grandmother Jessie Watson was also so proud to be there to witness the naming of the oval.
“Shane was touched by the gesture, especially as these were the then Bremer State High School ovals where he would practice cricket or kick the footie around with his mates as a kid.”
Brothers Ipswich Cricket Club coach Matt Andrews, young cricketer Madyson, Shane Watson and Division 3 Councillor Marnie Doyle.
The Brothers Ipswich Cricket Club, of which Shane was a member, still plays at the Oval and submitted the naming request in accordance with council’s new naming policy.
During a visit earlier in July – his first chance to see his parents and grandmother in person for two years due to COVID-19 restrictions – Shane took the chance to see the sign and meet some of the club’s current young players.
A T20 match, originally planned for earlier in the year by Brothers Ipswich Cricket Club as a way of celebrating the naming of the Shane Watson Oval, unfortunately could not go ahead due to COVID-19 and Shane’s work commitments coaching alongside Ricky Ponting in the Indian Premier League.
“It is an emotional honour to have this oval named after me. I grew up just down the road and used to come to these ovals a lot as a kid, kicking the footy around and playing golf.
And to think about dreaming as a kid playing cricket for Australia and now having an oval that I spent so much time on named after me, it is very special to me.
I have been very fortunate to grow up in Ipswich where there are incredible opportunities for all young boys and girls, whether it be sport or academics. But sport in particular, the infrastructure that is in place is special and it is not like this everywhere.
I know I would not have had the opportunities to get close to reaching my dream of playing for Australia if it was not for growing up in Ipswich and the people, coaches and facilities that were always there to support me.”
Watch Shane Watson’s full speech here.
Division 3 Councillor Marnie Doyle said it was wonderful seeing Shane welcomed home by his former club and many enthusiastic and aspiring young local cricketers.
“Shane is rightly recognised as one of Ipswich’s sporting greats and received the keys to the city in 2011,” Cr Doyle said.
“To be able to honour his achievements on one of the grounds where he practiced and honed his skills is fitting and hopefully inspires future generations of players to follow in his steps.
“Congratulations to Shane and thank you to Brothers Ipswich Cricket Club President Leo Conway and club members for advocating for this honour.”