Former Australian Test allrounder Graeme Watson passed away on Friday afternoon age 75 after a long battle with cancer.
Among his 107 First Class matches, Watson appeared in five Tests. He spent the majority of his career in Victoria before moving to Western Australia where he was part of three Sheffield Shield titles in four seasons.
Watson, a right-handed batsman and medium-pace bowler, made 4,674 First Class runs at an average of 32.68, including seven centuries, and claimed 186 wickets at 25.31.
He played one season for NSW in 1976/77, appearing in five First Class fixtures, scoring 188 runs at 26.85 and collected eight wickets at 22.5.
It was his last season of First Class cricket before joining World Series cricket in 1977. Notably, he claimed 7-26 in a three-day match for the Australian team against the World XI in Rockhampton during December 1977.
While battling cancer during the final few months of his life, Watson made an immense contribution to cricket in the Southern Highlands where he resided.
Former ICC umpire, now Chairman of the Highlands District Cricket Association, Simon Taufel said that Graeme’s advice and involvement in a rigorous review of Highlands Cricket, as Patron of the Association was hugely important to the future direction of cricket in the area.
“We’ve lost a mate, we’ve lost a good bloke. We’ve lost a confidant and active Patron. He was someone who emphasised the importance of humility and mateship,” said Taufel.
“Graeme was asked to prepare a preliminary report by the Highlands Cricket board with several recommendations, one of which was a major fundraising event, the Table of Ten Dinner, for which Graeme was a driving force in organising.”
The event gained significant corporate support due to Graeme’s networking and he recruited former Test teammates Ian Chappell, Doug Walters and Keith Stackpole for the evening.
Graeme’s recommendations also involved the restructure of the local Highlands junior competition more in line with schools in the area to help better connect with the community.
Watson played two One-Day Internationals in 1972 during the second year of One-Day International cricket, with both matches coming during the tour of England that year.
Overall, Watson played 18 List A One-Day matches scoring 315 runs at 22.5, including a highest score of 99, and took 27 wickets at 20.29 with best figures of 5-20.
During a distinguished all-round sporting career, Watson also achieved the rare feat of playing both Test cricket and VFL football.
He played five games for the Melbourne Demons in 1965.
Watson made his Test debut on the 1966/67 tour of South Africa, in Cape Town.
In a column for Nine’s Wide World of Sports, former Australian captain and commentator Ian Chappell wrote a heartfelt tribute to ‘Beatle’ who was his first roommate on tour.
Watson was affectionately known as ‘Beatle’ due to the resemblance of his hair style of the four members of the famous band.
Chappell recalls how Watson was called up for that tour to replace NSW allrounder, the legendary Doug Walters, who had been called up for National Service.
Watson scored a half-century on debut but injured his ankle during the match, a trend that would continue throughout his career.
Watson survived a near death experience whilst playing for Australia against a Rest of the World XI in 1971/72 at the MCG.
“I was batting with Watson when an unintentional beamer from Tony Greig hit him in the nose and he was carted off the ground bleeding profusely,” Chappell told Nine.
Reportedly, Watson stopped breathing while in hospital and needed 20 litres of blood transfusions.
Despite doctor's orders, Graeme was back playing Shield cricket in a matter of weeks.
Vale Graeme Watson.