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