Australia news February 15, 2012

Watson wants to open on Test return


Shane Watson has bluntly stated his intention to win back his Test match opening spot, irrespective of the promising union formed by David Warner and Ed Cowan in his absence.

Before he departed Sydney to return to first-class cricket for New South Wales against Western Australia in a Sheffield Shield match at the WACA, Watson said he would be opening the batting for the Blues as a precursor to his bid to regain that spot for the national team.

While an extended injury break due to hamstring and calf problems has made Watson mindful of managing his workload this time around, the prospect of moving down the order appeared a long way from his mind.

"At the moment I'm going to open the batting [in Perth]," Watson said. "I'd love to be able to open [for Australia], but that's where I've had the most enjoyment as a batsman and that's where I've had the most enjoyment as a batsman, that's where my game really progressed from, with the opportunity to open the batting. That's really where I'd love to be able to bat, no doubt.

"Ed Cowan, in Test cricket especially, and Dave Warner have done a pretty good job there. It's going to be interesting to see where things pan out but I certainly do love opening, because that's where I've had most success in my international career."

The absence of Watson, the vice-captain, coincided with a rich vein of form for the Test team under Michael Clarke's leadership, and whenever he returns, either towards the end of the triangular ODI series or in the West Indies, it will be to a vastly different dressing room from the one he left. However, Watson's primary concern will be to find the ideal balance between his muscular batting and shrewd swing and seam bowling, something he admitted did not "exactly work" in the months leading up to his injury.

"I'll have to keep an eye on that, definitely," Watson said. "That's something I've looked at in detail over the last few months, exactly how I'm going to be able to balance what I'm trying to do and keeping my body as good as it can as well throughout the period of playing a lot of cricket.

"There's no doubt playing consistently for four months, which I did throughout that period, it just ended up my body wasn't agreeing with what I was trying to do with it. In the end it's meant a lot of other things have been able to regenerate and I've been able to reassess where I was at and the things that didn't go exactly to plan throughout that four-month period of playing consistently - a few mistakes that I did make throughout that period of time, I certainly won't be making them again because I wouldn't really like to be out for another three months again because it's very frustrating.

"So I'm going to have to continue to talk to Michael and Mickey Arthur and just try and balance my workload as much as I possibly can because what happened over the last little while didn't exactly work so I'm just going to have to stay on top of things a little bit more, I think."

Joining Watson in Perth for the Shield match starting on Friday is the Test wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who remains surplus to the requirements of the limited-overs team despite having earlier been informed that he was being rested for the first three matches. Watson said he felt Haddin had been left "in limbo", though the wicketkeeper himself seems more comfortable with where things stand.

"I actually feel sorry for Brad at the moment," Watson said. "He's been left in a bit of limbo unfortunately. He doesn't know which way he's going, whether he's been rested or being dropped. I really do feel sorry for him because someone who's played an important role over the last five years in all forms of the game for Australia.

"I think [he] definitely deserves to be told either way what his future holds, because I know if I was in the same position I'd be pretty disappointed if you're being left in limbo a little bit. I think they should tell him either way and that's for Test cricket also. It's important for him just to be able to know which direction he is going.

"I've been in different situations when [in] selection you don't know exactly what's going on. But for someone who's been a big part and been the vice-captain for Australia on a number of occasions as well, I think that's what he deserves."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Michael on February 17, 2012, 9:04 GMT

    @green and gold, Allan Border Medal was for deeds in 2010! Didn't do ANYTHING with the bat in 2011.

  • Nick on February 16, 2012, 21:38 GMT

    Hussey should open and Cowan dropped. Warner needs an experienced hand at the top of the order and Hussey really needs to take responsibility at the top of the order. Watson should not get a pat on the back for a good solid 30 or 40 and should not be passing on these bad habits to Warner.

  • Justin on February 16, 2012, 13:24 GMT

    Allan Border Medal night - Test Player of the Year - 2011: Shane Watson. Yet the guy still gets bashed in the comments. If he is asked to bat down the order then he will otherwise let him express that he wants to open - warner or cohen can bat down the order. Having 2 guns up front and cohen at 3 as stability could get us off to a good start and solve our no.3 problem. Either was give the guy a break.

  • Michael on February 16, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    Nearly 31, injury prone, only averaging 38 in tests, coming back from long-term injury, trying to get into a winning team. You would think Shane has better things to do with his time (learning how to field/catch, get back in form (none shown in 2011) and bat for long periods without shutting out his partner) than critique selection policy. He needs a HUGE sledgehammer of performance to get back in my team.

  • Nick on February 16, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    One thing I hate more than anything is players playing the media card to publicly lobby selectors and sway public opinion towards their agenda. I hope the selectors are not swayed by this kind of rubbish - although I suspect they are, otherwise players would not keep doing it. I wonder what Ed Cowan thinks about this statement? I'd be pretty annoyed if I was Cowan. Great for team morale that one.

    I don't care what Watson wants. Openers need more than a mere 2 hundreds from a whopping 58 test innings at a mediocre average of 38 to justify their spot at the top of the order. That is not "success" as he puts it. He should be in the team as a middle order player who bowls 10-15 overs per innings. At the same time, Watson's comments about Haddin are spot on. It's been a gutless effort by the selectors not to clarify the intention. Not fair on Haddin or Wade for that matter. I don't see much difference between the current selectors and the Hilditch era.

  • Jesse on February 16, 2012, 5:33 GMT

    Watson1 Warner 2 Clark 3 Ponting 4 Mike 6 Wade 7 Lyon 8 Lee 9 Ben 10 Starc 11

    Test squad

    Watson 1 Cowen 2 Ponting 3 Clarck 4 Warner 5 David 6 Danial 7 Wade 8 Lee 9 Ben 10 Xavier 11

    ODI Squad

  • Dummy4 on February 16, 2012, 4:26 GMT

    He should do what's best for the team. Not the other way around

  • Roo on February 16, 2012, 2:28 GMT

    People seem to forget that Watson as an opener doesn't make match winning scores that direct how a series goes like Hayden/Langer/Katich did - even Hughes did that in SA when he first started...

  • Roo on February 16, 2012, 2:28 GMT

    @VivGilchrist... Yes Watson's use in the team is as an allrounder & in ODI's at present prefer Christian for his ability to fight well at the end of the innings - may even push Watson for his Test spot on both their recent form...

  • Roo on February 16, 2012, 2:27 GMT

    @MinusZero... Couldn't agree more with your comments... The biggest problem/s is the no.3 position & what to do with Watson... It might not be the ideal solution, but I think Mr C could move to no.3 & make room for Mr Photoshoot at no.6 - that will give us 18 mths to see where the younger brigade are at & allow for the retirement of the seniors without upsetting the order too much...

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