South African pace bowler Kenny Watson spent five seasons with Nottinghamshire during the 1970s but found his senior appearances restricted by the regulations regarding overseas-born players in English cricket.
William Kenneth Watson was born in Port Elizabeth on 21 May 1955. He made his First-Class debut in South African domestic cricket for Border in 1974/75, played for Northern Transvaal during the following season and joined Nottinghamshire in 1976. With Clive Rice occupying the overseas berth in County Cricket, Watson found himself restricted to one First-Class match that summer, against the West Indians, when he took 4-23 as he combined with Wilkinson, Cooper and Birch to bowl out the tourists for 81. He took a further two wickets in the second innings but could not ultimately prevent a defeat at the hands of a strong International side.
Watson did not play another First-Class match until 1978 but appeared in nine John Player League matches in 1977. He recorded his best List-A figures for Notts that season, taking 3-20 against Hampshire at Bournemouth. In all, he played 33 List-A matches for Nottinghamshire between 1977 and 1980, claiming a total of 42 wickets and scoring 45 runs.
Watson played in five First-Class fixtures in 1978, a year when two overseas players were permitted in County sides. Clive Rice was an automatic selection but, with Richard Hadlee on New Zealand duty, Watson and Dilip Doshi vied for the second spot for much of the season, with the Indian spinner frequently given preference. In the 1979 season, Hadlee missed much of the season with a hamstring injury; Watson deputised and played in 10 First-Class matches and took 20 wickets, including his best return in a Notts shirt of 6-51 against Derbyshire at Trent Bridge.
Kenny Watson’s final season with Nottinghamshire was 1980 when he played in six First-Class matches. His final game was particularly memorable as he took 5-57 in the first innings, 2-18 in the second innings and recorded his top Notts’ score of 44 to help the County to an innings victory over the touring Australians. In 22 First-Class matches for Notts spread across five seasons, Watson took 58 wickets and scored 234 runs.
Every English winter, Watson returned to South Africa and played domestic cricket for Eastern Province and later for Border. He played for his country during their apartheid-era isolation, featuring in one unofficial ‘Test’ in 1981/82 against the ‘South African Breweries English XI’, the rebel side led by Graham Gooch. The following year, he played further Internationals against the West Indies rebel touring side.
Kenny Watson played his final senior cricket for Border in the 1991/92 season, having started a total of 290 First-Class and List-A matches in an 18-year career.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 477