The club sadly reports that we have lost one of our greatest legends in former Test Cricketer Billy Watson who was a stalwart at the top of the innings for St George throughout the 50's alongside Warren Saunders. Watson was aged 87.
Until his passing on the weekend William James Watson (1931 – 2018) was batting in the unfamiliar position of number five in the list of living Australian Test cricketers. Bill as he was known or his cricket nickname blinks, which he did not like, was an outstanding schoolboy cricketer firstly as a leg spinner then as an aggressive opening batsman. He played most of his life as an opening batsman representing Waverley D C C , St George D C C, NSW and Australia. He was a permanent fixture in Jack Chegwyn’s X1’s and played cricket in his final years for the Cricketers Club of NSW where he was captain, retiring in 1975 aged 44.
In between there was a tour to the West Indies in 1955 under Ian Johnson’s captaincy and New Zealand with the Australian second X1 side in 1956-57 under the captaincy of Ian Craig. It was his Test debut against England that caused the cricket public to sit up and take notice. It was his fifth first class match having been twelfth man in the previous Test. He made his debut for NSW against Qld at the ‘Gabba’ in the 1954-55 against Queensland and ten days later was picked to play for NSW against the strong MCC X1 attack of Bedser, Tyson and Loader. The record books show that he scored 155 in just over six hours.
The Watson family were produce merchants at the Sydney Markets and Bill’s father ensured that there was time off for his cricketing sons Bill and John, who also played for the Waverley and St George D C C. Bill had dreamed of playing for Australia as a little boy. He was obsessed with cricket to the extent that his mother used to throw balls to him down the side passage of their house at Bondi. She purchased a green schoolboy cricket cap from Farmers Department Store in Sydney and Bill cut out a balsawood Australian coat of arms and stuck it to the cap. Such was the confidence of the young Watson.
Watson scored 1,958 runs at 32.09 for NSW over an eight year period and at St George scored 8,691 runs at 45.3. Bill only ever played first grade scoring more than 500 runs a season on twelve occasions. He figured in three double century partnerships for the club and made 16 first grade centuries. Many of the runs were scored with Warren Saunders, the two being the most formidable opening batsman in Sydney Grade Cricket.
Bill Watson was the sixth St George player to play for Australia and the 18th NSW player in the clubs 108 year history. He was a wonderful raconteur. His cricket and life stories were endless. He had a great interest in aircraft and would frequent bookshops to purchase books that he would spend hours reading. He had a formidable model collection of planes, boats and buildings that he spend hours carefully putting together. Bill in many ways kept to himself preferring a quiet lifestyle. On his 80th birthday a surprise luncheon was held for him attended by many of his team mates of earlier days, some he had not seen for many years. The stories flowed and Bill was in his element. Cricket in many ways was very important to Bill. It gave him a life, one he only dreamt about, but one that came to fruition.
We extend our deepest sympathies to the Watson family.
View the Cricket NSW Article on Bill Watson