Australian all-rounder Shane Watson recently topped the list of nominees for the greatest all-rounder to have played in the Indian Premier League.

Former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir, while predicting that a few years down the line Andre Russell will be the undoubted candidate for the title, said that the accolade was fitting for Watson for his contributions over the 12 seasons of IPL.

The last two years have been good for Watson, who remains the only man to win the Most Valuable Player award twice in the tournament’s history: in 2008 and 2013, both with Rajasthan Royals.

Having featured in 134 IPL games so far, the 38-year-old batting all-rounder has amassed 3,575 runs at a strike-rate of 139.53. Having battled fitness issues, Watson has been key to Chennai Super Kings’ resurgence in the last two seasons after two years of suspension. He was the player of the match in the 2018 final, as he slammed a ton against Sunrisers Hyderabad. In the 2019 final, he nearly carried CSK to another title, despite suffering from a bloodied knee.

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen said on Star Sports talk show ‘Cricket Connected’, “He has been such a player that if his bowling has gone off, his batting has become a lot better. I have played with him for a couple of years. He would have bowled so much faster had he not had so many back issues as a youngster. When he was younger, he used to bowl really fast.”

Former India opener and KKR captain Gambhir expected Russell take over from Watson soon. He said, “If we talk about the past 12 years, for me Shane Watson is the best player [all-rounder] because he has done magic with Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings.”

Since his retirement, Watson has largely been just a batsman who rarely bowls.

“No doubt, his bowling was on a decline in the latter half of his career, but he had an overall impact on the game. He was an excellent player when he used to play for Rajasthan Royals. He not only used to bowl with the new ball but also batted in the middle order. If you ask me the same question two to three years down the line, Andre Russell will win, hands down. But right now, I will go with Shane Watson,” Gambhir said.

Former New Zealand pacer Danny Morrison lavished praise on Watson. He said, “I live in the land of Shane Watson. It’s Kevin Pietersen’s all-time favourite city. Brisbane is where’s Watto’s from, he’s loved to bits and pieces. He is a guy you will want to have in your line-up.”

The nominee list included Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Jacques Kallis, Kieron Pollard, Yusuf Pathan, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and Irfan Pathan. Watson was adjudged the best all-rounder by a panel of 50 experts that comprised of former cricketers, senior reporters and analysts.