Australia v Bangladesh, 2nd ODI, Darwin September 2, 2008

Fit Watson keen to open again


Shaun Marsh hits "normal cricket shots" harder than anyone, according to Shane Watson © Getty Images
 

Two months ago in the Caribbean, Shane Watson brutalised the West Indies attack to register his first one-day international century while suffering from a broken toe. Now back to full fitness, he is looking forward to discovering what he can do to the Bangladesh bowlers on Wednesday.

The injury to his left big toe hampered his preparation for the Darwin series and minor leg soreness kept him out of Saturday's 180-run triumph. He is likely to slot back into the opening role alongside Shaun Marsh, who he played junior cricket with but saw little of at senior level before they successfully joined forces in the West Indies.

"Shaun's a great guy, he's an amazingly talented batsman," Watson said. "The first I really saw of him exploding in the seniors, during the IPL I bowled against him in one of the games and it's some of the best batting I've ever bowled to. He hits the ball harder than I've probably seen anyone hit the ball just on normal cricket shots."

Matthew Hayden's ongoing heel injury has allowed the two men to establish themselves and the combination could be the future for Australia's ODI team. Hayden will be an automatic selection when he returns but Watson said there was no rivalry between him and Marsh to become Hayden's full-time partner.

"I'm sort of past that," Watson said. "I used to, probably three or four years ago, compete myself against other players in the team but I don't worry about that anymore."

Marsh's 76 was one of the reasons Australia had such a comprehensive victory on Saturday and Watson was in no doubt who should win Wednesday's rematch. "If we're playing our best, we should be able to beat them pretty easily," he said. "They are ranked ninth in the world and we are number one."

It is that difference in class that is a concern for the Bangladesh coach, Jamie Siddons, who said his team would have no excuses if they offered up a repeat of Saturday's dismal batting display, when they capitulated for 74. He believes his men were overawed at the rare opportunity to face the reigning World Cup holders but they should now know what to expect.

"Any first-game player in a big occasion it can get too big," Siddons said. "I've seen it with the Aussie team, with guys coming in in an Ashes series or a big occasion game, they don't go out there with the same talent or assuredness as someone of a Ricky Ponting stature.

"We don't have anyone like that that's been successful against Australia. So no-one's walking out there with a super amount of confidence. There's no examples for them to draw on of being successful against Australia, apart from [Mohammad] Ashraful three years ago, and you can't keep bringing up that as an example because there's been so many failures in between."

Until several of the players manage individual successes against Australia, Siddons believes it will be difficult to expect Bangladesh to triumph. He hopes Wednesday might be the day when a handful of players discover they can match it with the Australians.

"We don't have that at the moment so it's hard to throw that aura away, or throw that confidence at them," Siddons said. "They just don't have it because they haven't had the experience of being successful against those sides."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo