The Ashes 2009 June 4, 2009

McDonald looks for batting lift

Cricinfo staff

Andrew McDonald knows he needs runs in Australia's warm-up matches against Sussex and England Lions if he is to hold his spot for the first Ashes Test. The return of Shane Watson, Brett Lee and Stuart Clark could encourage Australia to alter their balance and drop McDonald, who has played the past four Tests.

He is confident that his style of medium-pace bowling - he has nine Test wickets at 33.33 - would be a valuable asset in the English conditions. But it wasn't until the most recent of his six Test innings that he showed any batting form and his 68 in Cape Town might not be enough to secure his place.

"At the moment I'm in the side, but the two lead-up games will probably tell more of a story," McDonald told the Age. "It might swing a little bit over there, if it's dry I can bowl stump to stump, I'm pretty flexible with what I can offer with the ball. It's just a matter in those first couple of tour games getting some runs and consolidating my spot."

McDonald does not have a first-class batting record to match his fellow allrounder Watson - he has two centuries to Watson's 13 - but he does have the advantage of incumbency in a winning team. One of the national selectors, Merv Hughes, said McDonald's performance against South Africa had been "magnificent".

"He's bowled for long spells and that's allowed the fast bowlers to reload, so Ricky [Ponting] can attack with them," Hughes told AAP. "His batting has been okay without being solid, but he showed in that last Test match what he's capable of."

Before he has even left Australia, McDonald has been taunted by the English press, which he said was not necessarily a negative. "Any time you're in the papers 60 days out from an Ashes series has to be a good thing," McDonald said. "But no, I'm not motivated by it."

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