Australia v New Zealand, 1st Test, Brisbane November 16, 2008

Watson wants Symonds in Test side

Cricinfo staff

Shane Watson believes Andrew Symonds deserves a Test spot "whenever he's ready to go" © Getty Images

Shane Watson has backed Andrew Symonds to make his Test return on Thursday against New Zealand despite the fact that such a move could squeeze Watson out of the side. The two allrounders are in Australia's 13-man squad and although there is the possibility that both will play, a direct swap of Symonds for Watson would be a more likely scenario.

Watson was given his opportunity at No. 6 in India because Symonds was working through his rehabilitation process and was unavailable for selection. It was a reversal of the situation in the 2006-07 Ashes, when Symonds was only handed his chance because Watson, who had originally been selected, struggled with persistent hamstring injuries.

Symonds made the most of his Test status and since that Ashes campaign he has averaged 72.07 in 12 Tests and has also chipped in for 14 wickets. Watson said Symonds had earned the right to be part of Australia's starting line-up.

"If Roy gets a spot, he bloody deserves it, he's been a great player for a number of years," Watson told the Sunday Telegraph. "I wouldn't feel hard done by, no way. I'm realistic of where I'm at. I'm still only 27, so I know I've got a lot of really good cricket in front of me.

"Roy definitely deserves an opportunity whenever he's ready to go. He's performed so well in some tough times for Australia and you can't take that away from him."

Watson would be unfortunate to miss out on this week's Gabba Test after he performed solidly on the recent tour of India. But he is philosophical about his chances and, as his injuries during the Ashes and Symonds' disciplinary breaches have proved, it is impossible to predict what opportunities will come along.

"What happened to Roy on the Darwin tour gave me another opportunity to have a crack at Test cricket, so that's the roundabouts of professional sport," Watson said. "I used to worry about [selection] a lot when I was younger and probably put too much pressure on myself.

"Now I'm just enjoying every minute of playing. Hopefully I get another opportunity. Whether it's now or in a couple of years, who knows? I know if and when I do get another opportunity I'm going to give it everything I've got."