Below is an edited extract of Shane Watson's address at the 2023 AGM.
I feel incredibly lucky to have started my career and to have been educated by cricketers who played in the 'before' and 'after' era of Australian cricket.
The before was, prior to 1997.
Before the ACA was formed.
Before the players were seen as partners in the game.
Before there were contracts, just match payments - and not very significant match payments.
There had to be a challenging balancing act between training and playing and holding onto a regular job to supplement your income. There were no injury payments, no super entitlements, no retirement fund, no education/life after playing grants, support across all aspects of your life and I could go on and on.
So to be so fortunate to have understood this very clearly from day one of getting into the first-class system here in Australia, made me very much appreciate and never take for granted what the playing group in ’97 did for all of the future generations of cricketers.
All of the incredible benefits that come with now playing cricket here in Australia and for Australia. I for one have been a huge beneficiary for all of the phenomenal foundations that were laid by the class of ’97.
So for me, it was always a very easy decision to get involved more formally with the ACA in 2013, to be on the ACA executive to try to continue on the legacy that I was so appreciative of and fly the flag for the before and the unbelievably fortunate after.
But now, after ten years on the Executive and ACA board and having the privilege of being President for the last four years, I feel now is the time to step aside and let the next generation of leaders take things into the very exciting but ever-changing future.
I pinch myself every day to think of the caliber of people working inside the ACAShane Watson
I personally was always and continue to be incredibly passionate about three things around cricket in Australia.
One is looking after the past players in every way we can, the people who went before us, who weren’t as fortunate as we have been. And I am stoked to have seen the early beginnings of the implementation of the Players Cordon, which is one way for the current playing group to give back to put these important resources in place for the cricketers who have come before us, who laid these very strong foundations.
Two is providing the resources and education facilities as a very important duty of care for the sport here in Australia, to ensure that the cricketers who come through the system, don’t only have the opportunity to become the best cricketers they can be, but also leave their playing days a much better equipped human being, to be able to take on the next phase of their life as seamless as possible, if this is possible. And I feel we are getting closer to getting this as perfect as possible.
Three is the legacy, which was always the most important for me. To ensure that every cricketer who comes through now fully understands and really appreciates how unbelievably fortunate they are now to have come through in this era with all of the amazing benefits that they enjoy because it certainly wasn’t always like this.
So moving into the future for the ACA, the biggest issues that we face as an organisation, are the growing challenges of scheduling as the game continues to grow and evolve, and the vital support that each cricketer needs around all parts of their life - especially around the mental challenges that this day and age present.
So as I hang up my boots here in a formal capacity with the ACA, I feel that I leave the ACA in incredible shape with the quality of leadership that is on the ACA board and also working operationally, day-to-day. To have to the caliber of the leadership of the current playing group - Pat, Beth, Usman, and Moises; the leadership qualities and playing experience that Rachael, Lisa, and Trent bring; and the leadership, governance, and finance expertise that Janet brings, Janet you really are a weapon.
And then, of course, I can never thank Greg Dyer enough for all his incredible support and mentorship over the last ten years. We are so unbelievably lucky here at the ACA to have been - and continue to be - in the hands of one of the most impressive people to have ever been around the game of cricket here in Australia. A person who loves the game of cricket deeply, and the players dearly, and will do whatever is necessary to ensure the players who have been and are involved in this great game, are being supported, loved, and getting their fair share.
Finally, to finish off, I pinch myself every day to think of the caliber of people working inside the ACA. How in the world have we been so lucky to have Todd Greenburg leading us? Honestly, how fortunate we are. Joe Connellan, how ridiculously lucky we are to have you guiding us through every minute detail of the MOU - and I know who I would want on my side in any disagreement.
Brendan Drew, Kelly Applebee, Lauren Ebsary, Steve Williams, and Craig Little, to name just a few of the key people who have been with me through most of my journey on the admin side of the ACA. How fortunate we are at the ACA to have these incredibly talented and hard-working people guiding us in the future. And finally, everyone’s Mum here at the ACA, Gab Bortoli, thank you. You are such a special person and how fortunate we all are to have you caring for all of us and looking after every single one of us like we are one of your children.
I can't thank everyone enough for this amazing experience I have had over the last ten years. The friends I have made, and the incredible education that I have got will hold me in such great stead for the future.