Watson a winner at six - Warne
Shane Warne believes Australia "stumbled on" their best batting order for the World Cup in their victory over Sri Lanka, and also thinks Shane Watson's move to the middle order will allow the allrounder to let go of his earlier apprehension and simply hit the ball.
Watson was dropped from the Australia XI to face Afghanistan in Perth and took his omission with good grace. But a dry SCG pitch compelled the selectors to recall him in a different role, and Warne reckoned the new balance of the team, with Steven Smith at No. 3, the captain Michael Clarke at No. 4 followed by Watson and Glenn Maxwell, would go a long way to helping Australia lift the trophy.
"I think the way it's panned out Australia have stumbled on their best side," Warne told SEN Radio. "Shane Watson wasn't making any runs at three, Mitchell Marsh was doing ok but he's still young and inexperienced but a wonderful talent. He got hit a bit against Afghanistan in Perth and looking at that wicket in Sydney they wanted a bit more experience and I could see that selection.
"If Watson comes in at six, with Warner and Finch at the top they go off and hopefully get quick runs, and then you've got Smith and Clarke for that control and to lay a foundation or platform for Watson, Maxwell, Faulkner and Haddin to come. If the guys play well we're going to be posting such big scores and then we've got so many matchwinners with the ball too."
Warne has been close to Watson since they played together for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, where as captain Warne oversaw Watson's emergence as a dominant force in the competition. A highly self-critical character, Watson played with a weight lifted off his shoulders at the SCG, and Warne said it appeared the allrounder had gone through a phase of introspection and simply concluded he had to attack the bowlers.
"Of late he's frustrated us a little bit and by his own admission he's been disappointed with his own form too, and it's not as though he's not putting in the work," Warne said. "Sometimes in cricket or sport in general when you go through a little form slump ... sometimes we complicate it in this modern era because there are too many coaches around.
"Don't get me wrong, I think coaches have a role to play in juniors and first-class ranks, but when you get to the top of your sport, you haven't got there because you've been coached well, you get there because of your ability and the way you think.
"So when you're out of form it's all about the way you think. You're looking for this secret thing to get back in form and everyone looks at technique. You start trying all these different things, no success comes and then you think 'you know what, stuff this, I'm just going to go out there and hit the ball'. That takes time.
"Take a step back, take a deep breath and think what is my role and what do I have to do. Work it out for yourself rather than everyone telling you. It just comes down to the way you think about it and being aggressive. Once you become aggressive in your mind about it, that's when you can achieve good things. It's amazing you have a bit more luck too when you're aggressive."
At his best, Watson was feared by bowlers for his destructive capability, and Warne's words echoed the sort of mindset evident at the SCG.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig