Friday, January 21, 2011

Shane Watson to be the Highest Paid Australian Cricketer

The rise and rise of Shane Watson has been so remarkable that the blue-chip allrounder who used to break down more times than an old Kombi van will soon unseat Ricky Ponting as the highest paid player in Australia.

He is poised to sign a new deal worth up to $2 million, which includes a marketing component, to reflect his stature as the country's most valuable player.

The rankings are kept a closely guarded secret but Test skipper Ponting has been the highest-paid cricketer in the country for many years.

Sources say there was a brief period when Glenn McGrath usurped his Test captain Steve Waugh as the nation's most expensive cricketer but Test skippers have traditionally had a stranglehold on the top-dollars figure.

That is all set to change in April when Watson cashes in on his stunning career sea change, which has seen him go from injury crock to match-winning superstar in an incredible few years.

The CA contracts are assigned on an arithmetic system in which players are ranked on their Test, one-day international and Twenty20 performances. The numbers are fed through a weighting formula to come up with an overall ranking. Accordingly, Australian players who play all three formats tend to get a higher ranking than those who don't, and Ponting and Clarke have retired from Twenty20 cricket.

And there is no doubt Watson will receive a higher Test ranking - the format of cricket which is weighted the highest in determining the overall CA contracts - than Ponting and Clarke.

Last year Watson averaged 42.7 with the bat in Test cricket compared to the 36 of both Ponting and Clarke.

But it is Watson's arrival as a genuine star with the ball (19 Test wickets at 27 last year) that will be the key element that propels him to becoming our highest-paid cricketer.

Given he is one of the few rolled-gold marketing stars in Australian cricket, Watson would have the potential to more than double his cricket earnings through sponsorship and endorsement deals, which would see his overall salary inflate to somewhere between $4 and $5 million.

It's extraordinary when you consider that Allan Border's last contract, in 1993-94, was worth $95,000.

Few would begrudge Watson raking in the big bucks considering he is the one player who has really shone for Australian cricket as it goes through some of its most troubled times.

It wasn't that long ago that Watson was a fringe international player, behind former all-rounder Andrew Symonds in the Australian pecking order. His long catalogue of injuries made everyone wonder whether he could consistently perform on the big stage.

There was never any doubt he had the talent but even Watson concedes he is struggling to come to terms with how much his star has risen.

"No, I can't believe it ... I can't believe the things I've been a part of and the things I've been able to achieve," Watson said on January 19, 2011.

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