India v Australia, 1st Test, Chennai February 19, 2013

Watson to be Australia's No. 4

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Shane Watson has confirmed that he will bat at No.4 in the first Test against India in Chennai if, as expected, David Warner is fit to play. Watson opened in the warm-up match against India A and scored 84 and 60, but his presence at the top was only due to Warner's ongoing recovery from a fractured thumb, and he will move down the order to allow Warner and Ed Cowan to resume their opening combination.

It would have been a big call to split the successful Warner-Cowan partnership, especially given that Watson is hoping to be able to bowl during the Ashes later this year. Part of the reason for shifting him down the order was to allow him to balance his batting and bowling workloads and while that is not an issue on this trip, where Watson will play only as a batsman, if all goes well it will again be a factor during the Ashes.

"If everyone is fit, it's looking like that's most probably going to be the way the selectors and Michael [Clarke] and Mickey [Arthur] go," Watson said in Chennai on Tuesday. "With the continuity of what's happened over the last 12 months especially, I can definitely see why they want to go that way.

"I've got as much experience as anyone, whether batting in the middle order or at the top of the order. Myself and Michael are going to be very important parts in this series for us as a batting unit in that middle order because it can be very difficult to start. But we're as well equipped as anyone to be able to get through it."

It means that with Warner, Cowan and Phillip Hughes occupying the top three spots, Australia's two most experienced batsmen will come in at Nos.4 and 5, likely to be followed by Matthew Wade at No.6 and an allrounder, either Moises Henriques or Glenn Maxwell. The middle-order role means Watson will have plenty of work to do against India's spin attack, which could feature three men on a turning pitch in Chennai.

But England's success against Pragyan Ojha, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Harbhajan Singh late last year has highlighted that the spinners are not infallible in their home conditions. Coming in against spin on a turning pitch is one of the toughest challenges for a Test batsman, but Watson said it was important to take note of the way England's batsmen made use of their starts in the recent series.

"England certainly showed that. The guys who got runs got very big runs as well to make it easier for the guys coming in," Watson said. "In India it's a very hard place to start your innings, so if you do get a start, it's very important to be able to go on and get those very big scores like England did, so you've got plenty of runs to play with throughout the rest of the Test match.

"India's spinners are very highly skilled, especially in these conditions. We certainly can have success over here. There's no reason why we can't. But we are going to have to be at our best because they certainly know how to make the most of the turning conditions."

Success in India would not only show that Watson can handle a variety of roles, he also hopes it can prove to his doubters that he deserves to be part of Australia's top six even if he is not bowling. Clarke has noted on several occasions that Watson is competing with a much greater pool of players as a pure batsman rather than an allrounder, and this series will give some indication as to where he sits in that group.

"There has been a lot that's been mentioned over the last six months on whether I warrant a position in the side as a batsman, if I'm not bowling," Watson said. "I'm playing as a batsman [in India]. [I want] to be able to prove to the selectors and to the people who at times maybe don't think that I'm one of the top six batsman in Australia, to prove that I am that, that I can get picked as a batsman. And then my bowling is just a bonus thing to be able to add to the team."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Edwards_Anderson on | February 20, 2013, 1:15 GMT

    Watson has to be opening so we are just delaying the inevitable. There is a good reason why Waugh, Lee, Chappell, Boon and others are stating the same, lets hope we rectify this by the ashes as opening is where Watson shines and where he belongs. Also not having Khawaja in the lineup is delaying the inevitable as he belongs in test cricket and its shame that he seems to be the one who will miss out. What i dont' want to see is him playing as injurty cover for 1 game and then expecting him to get 200 in that one game, not fair on the young fellow. And I am expecting Clarke to dominate, he is a talent that has had a great recent run but he has been riding his luck a little of late but that happens in Cricket. I really like the way he plays he seems to play in the same way regardless of situation. He seems to be the perfect combination of the 2 Waugh boys. He can be gritty like Steve but when he relaxes his shots look like Mark not technically but the way he makes it look so easy.

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | February 20, 2013, 0:24 GMT

    I'm not in love with the idea of Watson at 4, but as all our English and Saffer well wishers consistently point out, it's not as though we've got a lot of choice. One of our 3 openers has to bat down the order and Watson is probably the best equipped to do that. .. one of the biggest problems is that Warner is similar to Watto in that he likes to feel that brand new cherry on his bat. I can't really see him in the middle order whereas Watson might be able to get away with it. ... as much as I hate to say it it might not matter that much anyway. What I mean is that with Warner & Hughes in the top three, Watto might be coming in before the ball is more than a few overs old anyway. .. I hope to hell I'm wrong but it is a distinct possibility.

  • POSTED BY popcorn on | February 19, 2013, 23:54 GMT

    This is great news! Don't tinker with a successful opening combination is the right thing to do. Ed Cowan is a ROCK SOLID Opener, he has played well in the warm -up games,and gives stability to the foundation of a huge opening partnership. At the other end is David warner who can smash the Indian attack to pieces and send them scurrying for cover. Shane Watson has been playing well in the warm -up games too. He is a senior pro now, and at the CRITICAL position of No.4,he can bring solidity to the batting and a huge score. I am quite happy with the batting line -up upto number 5. I would have brought in Usman Khawaja at Number 6,then Wade at Number 7. 3 quicks and Nathan Lyon. I don't think we need to worry so much about Indian spin conditions. England showed why. Besides, the Indian batting line-up has ONLY Tendulkar and Sehwag who are experienced, The rest are novices.Our quicks can demolish their fragile batting.Nathan Lyon has plenty to offer as a spinner.Clarke and Warner too.

  • POSTED BY JustIPL on | February 19, 2013, 20:26 GMT

    My aussie team for the first test: Watson, Cowan, Hughes, Warner, Clarke, Doherty, Wade, JOhnson, Siddle/Bird, Lyon, Smith. Smith, Lyon, Doherty area viable spin options keeping in view the indian batsmen including Pujara struggled during the england series. Watson, Cowan, Hughes, Warner, Clarke, Wade, Smith provide strong batting lineup with plenty of options. Johnson, Siddle/Bird are good fast bwoling options. Bird did not allow any width during warmups and can take care of Sehwag/Tendulkar. Also main target is going to be Pujara who seems to be the answe of all Indian batting wows. Pujara got out to spinners 4 times thrice to Swann and once to Panesar. I dont think Siddle can leave that impression as English fast bowlers who are more capable then aussies left on India. Drying up runs with fast bowliing and then getting wickets using spin will be the formula to win in India as the norm set by England. Ashwin can pose threat with the bat so three prong spin attack should be good.

  • POSTED BY Lewis2303 on | February 20, 2013, 21:37 GMT

    The inclusion of Watson in the Aussie test side proves how poor their batting line up is, in 40 games he averages mid 30s scoring only 2 hundreds,

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | February 20, 2013, 21:30 GMT

    @RandyOZ: "After dealing with England and South Africa, Watto is ready for India."

    Thinking logically now, how does getting Whitewashed and Ashes bested by England get classed as success? Are these modern Australian cricketing standards? Nothing to see here, move along... ;)

  • POSTED BY on | February 20, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    Watson is good enough - he has spent enough time opening against class test attacks. His recent opening innings on international return (regardless of being a ODI) was awesome. That coupled with expert catching and senior leadership skills Watson is an X factor player I would want in my international 2013 XI. He can bat anywhere..

  • POSTED BY satishchandar on | February 20, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    I dont have much reservations in moving Watson from opening position but have some when he is at 4. Watson is at his best at 6 as of me. He can either bat at 6 or open the innings. No.4 looks a bit odd for him. I would have preferred Khawaja at 4 and Watson at 6 followed by Wade and bowlers. Clarke's back injury probably played a big role in picking of Henriques as all rounder. Though the conditions would have tempted them to include Maxwell at 7 as spinning all rounder, form and performance in the warmups gave Henriques the chance to don the whites. Good luck Australia. With the number of lefties in the lineup, the offie of Indian team(Whether it is Bhajji or Ashwin) need to be tight in line and look to attack with sliders.

  • POSTED BY QingdaoXI on | February 20, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    Sorry but Australia made a mistake by slecting a four pace attack and only one spinner, they have already given this match to India. Didnt they saw the India-England series, if you want to beat India in India you have to play with the same team composition as India does.

  • POSTED BY joseyesu on | February 20, 2013, 6:01 GMT

    I would have prefered Watson to play, what Cook has done it for Eng. Maybe after the first match Aus may place him again to the opener slot.

  • POSTED BY Edwards_Anderson on | February 20, 2013, 1:15 GMT

    Watson has to be opening so we are just delaying the inevitable. There is a good reason why Waugh, Lee, Chappell, Boon and others are stating the same, lets hope we rectify this by the ashes as opening is where Watson shines and where he belongs. Also not having Khawaja in the lineup is delaying the inevitable as he belongs in test cricket and its shame that he seems to be the one who will miss out. What i dont' want to see is him playing as injurty cover for 1 game and then expecting him to get 200 in that one game, not fair on the young fellow. And I am expecting Clarke to dominate, he is a talent that has had a great recent run but he has been riding his luck a little of late but that happens in Cricket. I really like the way he plays he seems to play in the same way regardless of situation. He seems to be the perfect combination of the 2 Waugh boys. He can be gritty like Steve but when he relaxes his shots look like Mark not technically but the way he makes it look so easy.

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | February 20, 2013, 0:24 GMT

    I'm not in love with the idea of Watson at 4, but as all our English and Saffer well wishers consistently point out, it's not as though we've got a lot of choice. One of our 3 openers has to bat down the order and Watson is probably the best equipped to do that. .. one of the biggest problems is that Warner is similar to Watto in that he likes to feel that brand new cherry on his bat. I can't really see him in the middle order whereas Watson might be able to get away with it. ... as much as I hate to say it it might not matter that much anyway. What I mean is that with Warner & Hughes in the top three, Watto might be coming in before the ball is more than a few overs old anyway. .. I hope to hell I'm wrong but it is a distinct possibility.

  • POSTED BY popcorn on | February 19, 2013, 23:54 GMT

    This is great news! Don't tinker with a successful opening combination is the right thing to do. Ed Cowan is a ROCK SOLID Opener, he has played well in the warm -up games,and gives stability to the foundation of a huge opening partnership. At the other end is David warner who can smash the Indian attack to pieces and send them scurrying for cover. Shane Watson has been playing well in the warm -up games too. He is a senior pro now, and at the CRITICAL position of No.4,he can bring solidity to the batting and a huge score. I am quite happy with the batting line -up upto number 5. I would have brought in Usman Khawaja at Number 6,then Wade at Number 7. 3 quicks and Nathan Lyon. I don't think we need to worry so much about Indian spin conditions. England showed why. Besides, the Indian batting line-up has ONLY Tendulkar and Sehwag who are experienced, The rest are novices.Our quicks can demolish their fragile batting.Nathan Lyon has plenty to offer as a spinner.Clarke and Warner too.

  • POSTED BY JustIPL on | February 19, 2013, 20:26 GMT

    My aussie team for the first test: Watson, Cowan, Hughes, Warner, Clarke, Doherty, Wade, JOhnson, Siddle/Bird, Lyon, Smith. Smith, Lyon, Doherty area viable spin options keeping in view the indian batsmen including Pujara struggled during the england series. Watson, Cowan, Hughes, Warner, Clarke, Wade, Smith provide strong batting lineup with plenty of options. Johnson, Siddle/Bird are good fast bwoling options. Bird did not allow any width during warmups and can take care of Sehwag/Tendulkar. Also main target is going to be Pujara who seems to be the answe of all Indian batting wows. Pujara got out to spinners 4 times thrice to Swann and once to Panesar. I dont think Siddle can leave that impression as English fast bowlers who are more capable then aussies left on India. Drying up runs with fast bowliing and then getting wickets using spin will be the formula to win in India as the norm set by England. Ashwin can pose threat with the bat so three prong spin attack should be good.

  • POSTED BY Lewis2303 on | February 20, 2013, 21:37 GMT

    The inclusion of Watson in the Aussie test side proves how poor their batting line up is, in 40 games he averages mid 30s scoring only 2 hundreds,

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | February 20, 2013, 21:30 GMT

    @RandyOZ: "After dealing with England and South Africa, Watto is ready for India."

    Thinking logically now, how does getting Whitewashed and Ashes bested by England get classed as success? Are these modern Australian cricketing standards? Nothing to see here, move along... ;)

  • POSTED BY on | February 20, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    Watson is good enough - he has spent enough time opening against class test attacks. His recent opening innings on international return (regardless of being a ODI) was awesome. That coupled with expert catching and senior leadership skills Watson is an X factor player I would want in my international 2013 XI. He can bat anywhere..

  • POSTED BY satishchandar on | February 20, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    I dont have much reservations in moving Watson from opening position but have some when he is at 4. Watson is at his best at 6 as of me. He can either bat at 6 or open the innings. No.4 looks a bit odd for him. I would have preferred Khawaja at 4 and Watson at 6 followed by Wade and bowlers. Clarke's back injury probably played a big role in picking of Henriques as all rounder. Though the conditions would have tempted them to include Maxwell at 7 as spinning all rounder, form and performance in the warmups gave Henriques the chance to don the whites. Good luck Australia. With the number of lefties in the lineup, the offie of Indian team(Whether it is Bhajji or Ashwin) need to be tight in line and look to attack with sliders.

  • POSTED BY QingdaoXI on | February 20, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    Sorry but Australia made a mistake by slecting a four pace attack and only one spinner, they have already given this match to India. Didnt they saw the India-England series, if you want to beat India in India you have to play with the same team composition as India does.

  • POSTED BY joseyesu on | February 20, 2013, 6:01 GMT

    I would have prefered Watson to play, what Cook has done it for Eng. Maybe after the first match Aus may place him again to the opener slot.

  • POSTED BY Jayzuz on | February 20, 2013, 3:06 GMT

    Great cherry picking, SirViv1973. Australia has also played SA and SL away in tests in the last 18 months, as well as the WI. 8 tests away, 13 tests at home. They only lost one of the away tests, won 4,; lost two of the home tests, won 8. So the away winning ratio is much higher than at home. Why don't you mention that? The fact is Australia have always played well away from Australia in recent decades, with few exceptions. Wouldn't be surprised in Australia was ranked higher than England by the time of the Ashes, for that would reflect the reality that Australia's test record in the last 2+ years has clearly been better than England's.

  • POSTED BY Jayzuz on | February 20, 2013, 2:58 GMT

    Can't see Watson prospering at number 4 in India, when he has never prospered there anywhere else. He has a superb technique for playing the new ball. He's an opener, and his 43 average there shows that clearly. He is superb player of fast bowling, not a such a great player of spin. I predict a lean series for him. He'd be better at 3, with Hughes at 4. Hughes might struggle against spin too. But he is very unpredictable. Might also flourish - though I have my doubts.

  • POSTED BY Sadhanand on | February 20, 2013, 1:44 GMT

    My team for first test provided everybody is fit is 1. Ed Cowan 2. David Warner 3. Phillip Hughes 4. Shane Watson 5. Michael Clarke 6. Matthew Wade 7. Moises Henriques 8. James Pattinson 9. Peter Siddle 10. Mitchell Starc 11. Xavier Doherty

  • POSTED BY andrew-schulz on | February 20, 2013, 0:53 GMT

    Geoffreysmother, for the sake of accuracy harbhajan was nowhere near the Indian team for the recent series against England. Auscricketwriter, what do you mean Watson has always batted 4? Even a quick glance will tell you he has opened and batted at 3 and 6 more times than he has batted 4. For the record, Frontfootlunge, Jonesy2's comments make a lot more sense than yours.,

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | February 20, 2013, 0:40 GMT

    I suggested some time ago that Watson would bat #4. Cowan and Warner deserve another chance and neither has any experience of batting lower in the order for Australia.

    As for the allrounder- I think in the end Aus will opt for the extra batsman and play 3 seamers and Lyon. Neither Henriques nor Maxwell have looked so outstanding that they demand to be picked- Maxwell largely through lack of opportunity. Look for Khawaja to bat #6.

    In the seam bowling department, Siddle is a cert, Johnson has the experience in Indian conditions and Pattinson was the man in possession before his injury. I believe they'll be the three picked, although it could be Starc for either Johnson or Pattinson. Starc hasn't done a lot in the warm-ups, though, so I think he'll be carrying the drinks in this game.

  • POSTED BY Mary_786 on | February 20, 2013, 0:18 GMT

    So on a pitch with zero grass, we play 3 quicks. Its like India coming to Perth and picking 3 spinners because it is their strength. We would laugh at them the way they are laughing at us now. The little I've seen of Zampa I've been impressed with. I'd be loading him up with tins of baked beans, his play station and have him on the next plane. Watson would be my opener any day of the week. And our middle order needs Khawaja in there and i am sure he will be in the team by the second test as Wade should not be batting at 4. @John Verdal i hear you mate. It would be good to have Warne as a mentor on this tour. He could show our spinners how best set fields for spinners, how to work with spinners in setting up plans to get batsmen out, where spinners need protection in the field, when to attack and when to defend, how to pick apart a batsman technique and exploit it from a spinners perspective.

  • POSTED BY hycIass on | February 20, 2013, 0:12 GMT

    @JohnVerdal understand where you are coming from mate, I would have had Khawaja in the team as well but as part of a six man specialist batting lineup given batting has been our issue in the last 1-2 years. @Cricketfanwrites I am sure Khawaja will get a go when Watson goes back home for the birth of his child. @Sambaker Khawaja was never competing with Watson and no one suggested Watson shouldn't play, it was always about whether Watson would kick Cowan out of his opening slot and i feel that he still might do that depending on how Cowan goes in this series. Pup's run without Punter and Huss begins and i am sure he can lead us back to number 1. My team would be Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Watson, Clarke, Khawaja, Wade, Siddle, Starc, Pattinson, Lyon

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | February 19, 2013, 23:50 GMT

    Along with Warner, the two most dominating batsmen on Earth. After dealing with England and South Africa, Watto is ready for India!

  • POSTED BY Rahulbose on | February 19, 2013, 23:47 GMT

    Strange move ,Watson is a good opener and most likely to score runs in India after Clarke. Maybe they want the experienced blokes to bat 3/4.

  • POSTED BY funkybluesman on | February 19, 2013, 23:25 GMT

    Australia are definitely better off picking two specialist spinners and playing Henriques as the all-rounder giving the third pace option, rather than playing three pace bowlers and Maxwell as a second spinner. Especially if he's playing with Lyon, giving us two off-spinners. Clarke will end up bowling a lot of overs if they go with that lineup. Plus, if you go on Henriques recent record (he's been playing first class cricket since he was 17 and his overall record isn't that great), he's in great form with both bat and ball, well ahead of Maxwell.

  • POSTED BY funkybluesman on | February 19, 2013, 23:22 GMT

    Four openers out of five specialist batsmen in the side. The reason - there isn't anyone else. Khawaja is next in line, averaging just 43 in first class cricket and many of the players talked about as potential test batsmen average sub-40 in first class cricket. Gone are the days of having multiple batsmen averaging over 50 in the shield but unable to break into the test team.

    Injuries aside Australia has incredible depth in quality young fast bowlers at the moment. But that is the only point of depth. A lot of people didn't like Hughes getting picked, but his record in first class cricket puts him well ahead of all the other contenders at the moment.

  • POSTED BY RednWhiteArmy on | February 19, 2013, 23:13 GMT

    Watson the fifty specialist, will not be giving India or England any nightmares. Quite the opposite, in fact.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 23:06 GMT

    I reckon Cowan has two tests to either score a hundred or be not out when Warner does. That would obviously involve 100+ - 200 runs opening stands. If he falters then Watson, as a batsmen solely, must open. Watson his the ball to the fence from ball one, so what if he gets out between 40-90. I'll take an opener getting us off to a flier any day. He'll score the odd ton batting at 4 but his best work is as an opener, by far! If Warner is not fit he has to open! My line up for first test only: Warner, Cowan, Hughes, Watson, Clarke, Wade, Henriques, Starc, Siddle, Doherty, Lyon

  • POSTED BY MinusZero on | February 19, 2013, 22:51 GMT

    I still think that Watson bats too high. Watson should consider Test retirement anyway. I doubt even as a batsman he will survive this tour intact. He is a far better short form player. He hasnt even averaged 30 with the bat over the last too years. If thats what qualifies as Australias top six batsmen, they are in more trouble than thought

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 22:50 GMT

    I see Watson's getting a bit of stick for his average and low conversion rate. To be fair though, he's a batting all-rounder, and when you check his stats in that vein - batting average of 37 and bowling one of 30 - he comes up trumps. It's not his fault he's had to bat in positions not familiar to him (opening) when Australia have lacked alternatives.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 22:50 GMT

    I'm truly hoping Maxwell doesn't get a run in this test match. Nothing against the guy, but he doesn't compliment the make up of the 1st choice team. Let's be honest... Clarke's spin is more potent than Maxwell's or Smith's. If Clarke's back can hold up, then he should be bowling.

    I'd like to see this team take the field:

    1. Warner 2. Cowan 3. Hughes 4. Watson 5. Clarke. 6. Wade 7. Henriques 8. Johnson 9. Siddle 10. Lyon 11. Bird

    Let me be clear also and say that I'm a HUGE Mitchell Starc fan, but I think Bird's ability to shut down the scoring and bowl a consistent line is more important in India than your ability to bowl at break neck speed. Swing is super important, yes. But movement off the pitch can be just as deadly on Indian dustbowls.

    Also, Henriques offers a lot more than people like to think. He is a tidy, effective bowler and a handy bat who can turn up the aggression when needed. He's coming of age now and deserves a shot at proving he can crack test level cricket.

    2c

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 22:22 GMT

    JustIPL... Smith?? You're joking right? You class Smith comparible to Watson, Cowan, Hughes, Warner, Clarke and Wade as a batsman? He has had more starts than Black Caviar, more comebacks than Muhammad Ali and is still after all this time, is not much more than a peripheral player. If we're waiting for him to mature into a player of class, a lot of us dont have that kind of time left.

  • POSTED BY Shaggy076 on | February 19, 2013, 22:13 GMT

    SirViv1973 - You conveniently leave your stat at the last 5 series. The two series before that Australia beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka and drew with South Africa in South Africa this is where they made up the ranking points. If Australia loses to India there ranking points wont change as they lost the most recent tour there also England won the most recent series to New Zealand so there points wont change either.

  • POSTED BY Shaggy076 on | February 19, 2013, 22:00 GMT

    TommyTuckerSaffa - Its not that bad, say a team like Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Clarke, Watson, Wade, Henriques, Siddle, Starc, Pattinson, Lyon is averaging 341 per innings and that is with Henriques scoring 0. Say he averages 25 and add extras its around 375 an innings - 750 runs a test not going to lose to many games with that score. On top of that Clarke has been averaging significantly higher than his career average lately, Hughes, Cowan and Wade are only starting to belong so there averages will go up. Watson given no injuries will average above 37. Yes khawaja averages 29 but a small sample size he has gone back and improved his game as well. We dont have the stars but for some reason we continually push far more credentialed teams like South Africa and whip the teams of similar abiliyt.

  • POSTED BY SirViv1973 on | February 19, 2013, 21:53 GMT

    @Geoffs mother, I think Ind will need to bowl better as a unit in this series than they did against Eng. Ojha bowled well & was the stand out bowler in that series for Ind but i'm not sure he will be as effective against Aus with so many lefties in their batting line up. The seamers will need to chip in, Yadav is a big miss as he looked pretty good in the first test but for me Ashwin is probably the key bowler. He didn't look all that threatening against Eng but he took 50 test wickets in very quick time so must have something about him. I expect Ind to win the series though. The Oz batting line up looks lke an accident waiting to happen & I can't see the 3 quicks approach working on the types of surfaces we saw before Xmas. I won't be at all surprised if Lyon & Doherty are bowling in tandem by the end of the series.

  • POSTED BY Batmanian on | February 19, 2013, 21:47 GMT

    Two bowling problems overshadow the dodgy batting : 1) Need a threatening spin combo. Ironically, Lyon's mediocrity makes him the selectorial lynchpin; if he were the genuine article, we'd venture a single supplementary, speculative pick (quasi-bowler Maxwell, repeat offender Doherty, wild guess Agar, even Smith or O'Keefe for some light relief). Instead, this coloratura role becomes high stakes, especially if Warner isn't good for a dozen overs. 2) Need a durable and penetrative quick battery. Starc looks the only shoo-in. Pattinson is our best bowler - even ahead of Cummins - but can't risk playing him as one of only three quicks. Siddle will try, but is no monster. Same for Bird. Johnson is risky, but his batting needed. 7. Johnson, 8. Starc, 9. Siddle, 10. Lyon, 11. Doherty. B-grade spin, and not enough strike force, but a bowling allrounder is necessary given the shakiness of the top six (Wade likely marshalling a decent tail from six is a lot of pressure, too).

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    Ironic that Watsonmakes a claim about needing big hundreds? The guy scored 2 x 50s in the warm-up game - and his conversion rate of 50s to 100s has to be one of the worst of any modern day Aussie batsman with at least 1 hundred. The guy gets 50 on talent, and then throws it away. He will be lucky to score another test 100 for Australia again.

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | February 19, 2013, 20:54 GMT

    @Milhouse79 I never knew things where THAT bad, you mentioned some very low averages there for top 5 batsmen, are you sure those are accurate - goodness me!!! I all honesty I think Bill Lawry and Ian Chappell would walk into that team now, dust off your pads boys.

    India must see this as a golden opportunity to right the wrongs and get a big victory over the ozzies. Opportunity has come knocking and its time for India to man-up and open the door to accept this gift!!!

  • POSTED BY VivGilchrist on | February 19, 2013, 20:51 GMT

    I can't help but feel that Watson would perform better opening and Warner while having a good record opening would be more consistent in the middle order. I am less nervous watching Watto open than Warner any day.

  • POSTED BY GeoffreysMother on | February 19, 2013, 20:40 GMT

    On the evidence of the England/India series Ohja will be the main threat. He bowled very well whist Bhaji was a shadow of his former self (except when appealing) and Ashwin seems, like Narine, more of a 20/20 bowler, hard to get away yet easier to defend against/ milk. Ironically England had the best spinners but were daft enough not to play Panesar in the first test. Given this, I wonder if Arthur's 'attack them' strategy is a bluff ( or he doesn't feel too many of his batsmen have the technique to stick it out). Australia winning will depend on Clarke and perhaps, just perhaps, Lyon whose figures seem to punch a bit above his reputation. My tip would be to keep telling Kolhi he is the next Tendulkar and he will hole out to mid on every time.

  • POSTED BY Raki99 on | February 19, 2013, 20:37 GMT

    Both the Teams are really avarage Agree with you @TommytuckerSaffa That South africa and england are the top test teams right now, But South africa also would have lot of people retire in near future Kallis is on his last Leg but at this moment he is perfoming but dosen't take much time to degrade ask dravid, laxman and sachin no matter what age catches up to you. In sports your peak is 28 to 35 while in professional life you peak at 44 and that goes up to 54 and then you start degrading.

  • POSTED BY righthandbat on | February 19, 2013, 20:28 GMT

    One thing that is often forgotten when picking players is their running between wickets ability. Mike Hussey was one of the best. Michael Clarke is also fantastic. Watson, Cowan and Hughes have not been particularly convincing in their abilities. For me, Watson should open with Warner, and focus on running between wickets as well as possible, and reducing stress on his body. To me, he has one option if he wants to bowl - and that is to bat at 6 or 7 and play a Flintoff-like role.

    If he proves me wrong, I'll be pleasantly surprised.

  • POSTED BY cardmak on | February 19, 2013, 20:28 GMT

    I think the Aussie batting line up looks highly suspect. It is in no comparison to the English batting line up. Australia will have a tough time this series in India under Indian conditions. Bowling options are much better.

  • POSTED BY GeoffreysMother on | February 19, 2013, 20:27 GMT

    disco_bob , just for the sake of accuracy KP scored 200 less runs than Cook and was in a similar run bracket to Prior and Trott. He was third in the batting averages. Obviously you dance fast and loose as well!

  • POSTED BY SirViv1973 on | February 19, 2013, 20:24 GMT

    @Mixters, to be fair Oz have had a pretty good run of fixtures over the past 18 months which has helped boost their ranking points. 4 of their last 5 series have been at home the only one away was against a weak WIN team. During the same period Eng have had 3 of their 5 series away from home with all the away series coming in Asia. With Eng due to play back 2 back series with NZL & Aus about to start this series with Ind, I would think the rankings will be a a bit fairer & more accurate by the time the ashes start.

  • POSTED BY stoos on | February 19, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    Omg that is bad he is not very good at playing slow bowlers at all. I predict he averages under 15 for the series

  • POSTED BY SirViv1973 on | February 19, 2013, 20:15 GMT

    @JB26, Not sure where you have been mate but Watson said sometime ago that he would only be available as a batsman in the series and will not bowl, hence why the bits n pieces options of Henriques, Maxwell & Smith are all in the squad.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 20:10 GMT

    I think this will be a good test series. Aus and Ind are on par playing in India, if it was AUS, then with out doubt Aussies would win. But in India, India hold the edge for this series, main reason Aussies have no killer spinner like Swann or how panesar bowled as well. With Watson at #4, it gives the Aussie a little room to breathe in the middle. Aussie starting XI: 1. Warner 2. Cowan 3. Hughes 4. Watson 5. Clarke 6. Maxell (for his spin) 7. Wade 9. Johnson 9. Starc 10. Siddle 11. Lyon

    India Starting Xi: 1. Sehwag 2. Dhawan 3. Pujara 4. SRT 5. Kohli 6. Jadeja 7. MSD 8. Ashwin 9. B. Kumar 10. Ishant 11. Ojha

    LETS go team INDIA!!

  • POSTED BY SirViv1973 on | February 19, 2013, 20:05 GMT

    No surprise to me. I understand he will be missing the 2nd test on paternity leave so it would have made no sense to drop Cowan for one game and bring him back for one game. I would imagine Khawalja will replace Watson at 4 for the second test. then it might be interesting if he gets runs and Cowan dosen't, if that is the case then Watson may well find himself back at the top of the order for the 3rd & 4th tests. Team I expect to play 1st test, Warner,Cowan,Hughes,Watson,Clarke,Wade,Maxwell,Starc,Siddle,Pattinson,Lyon. Although I do think Oz may be tempted to play Johnson instead of Starc due to his experience of having played there before.

  • POSTED BY Ozcricketwriter on | February 19, 2013, 19:59 GMT

    Watson has always batted at 4 at first class level. It is his preferred spot. He is therefore most likely to score more runs at number 4 than any other position. If we can at all accommodate this, we should.

  • POSTED BY Jaffa79 on | February 19, 2013, 19:45 GMT

    @ Tommytuckersaffa - Watson is a gun batsmen for the Aussies! Ok, he averages 37 and has fewer test centuries than Ravi Bopara (despite playing 39 tests to Ravi's 13!!) but he is one of their very best. He is better than Cowan (averages 32) and their new 'cab off the rank' Khawaja (averages 29). Hughes has swished and flashed his way back into team but he may be protected against India, like he was against SA. If there is so much talent in Aus, as claimed by the usual suspects on these pages, why aren't they in your team?? Mind you, the dearth of talent in this once proud country is probably why Warne, Hodge and others have contemplated comebacks. I have heard that Bill Lawry is thinking of putting the pads back on! Mind you, he has to be better than Cowan! It is such a shame that the country that gave us Bradman, Chappell, Border and Waugh now celebrate such mediocrity.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 19:43 GMT

    Considering the option its good that Wato playing at No.4, they have too many batting worry than bowling worries. Clark, warner & wato looked good other than non is looking good to score runs, its very important serious for Ozz as they heading for back to back ashes after this serious so they need to create good batting unit and spin bowling.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 19:39 GMT

    its testing time for dhoni he lost test series to england if he looses tes series to aussies he should not serve as a captain of the team

  • POSTED BY gsingh7 on | February 19, 2013, 19:32 GMT

    oh my.. 37 average batsman cum bowler will be mainstay of aus batting,slide continues, bare cupboards for spinners . i think they have accepted their fate . india to win 3-0

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 19, 2013, 19:31 GMT

    Where it say "England" in the article, you can cross that out and write 'KP' instead

  • POSTED BY Smahuta on | February 19, 2013, 19:13 GMT

    Expect Sehwag to score another triple in a day against this aussie attack, just to keep the fans and selectors frustrated. As for watto, he's always good for an 80, which wont be enough on those Indian wickets but its better than nought hey?

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 18:51 GMT

    we miss you run machine raina .,

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | February 19, 2013, 18:50 GMT

    I have a vision, I see the future. I see an part-time batsman batting at 4, lunging forcefully down the wicket with his front pad and getting out LBW to an Indian spinner. I wake up, was it real? It felt so real it must be true...

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | February 19, 2013, 18:45 GMT

    My oh My, a batsman with an average of 37 batting at 4 for Australia, who would have ever thought it, how low can a team slide?

    South Africa and England, the 2 best teams in the world field Kallis at 4 - average 56 and KP at 4 - average 50. Its a harsh reality but its clear to see. Is there no one else? I guess not.

  • POSTED BY mixters on | February 19, 2013, 18:43 GMT

    @Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (February 19, 2013, 17:22 GMT) An average of 37 and he's Australia's 'go-to' man. The infamous 'Slide' continues. I for one can't wait to see the excuses when Australia collapse again against mediocre spinners on flat pitches That infamous slide has them only one point behind England on the test rankings. By your logic Australias slide is the only reason England are second on the rankings??

  • POSTED BY I_AM_INDIA_SUPPORTER on | February 19, 2013, 18:07 GMT

    This series performance will decide future of sehwag . dhoni's captaincy and sachin's retirement. So we can expect some good show by our batting and to cement a place in national team they should show some performances. Australia pace will be the boost for their team and clarke watson gives hopes to the batting.In our spin department bhajji and ashwin fight for 2nd spinner spot. Congrats to both the teams as a Indian supporter like India to perform well and win :P. Have a nice day ...

  • POSTED BY MadhavY on | February 19, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    i believe that's a good move, Aus top order is a bit inexperienced but they have good 4 and 5 now. I guess we are going to see a lot of big partnerships for 3rd and 4th wickets in this series. and I like the way Cowan plays for me he is more valuable than Warner to this Aus side in India. It'll be great for Aus if Cowan plays just like nick Compton did during Eng and Ind series. Just never get out as simple as that.

  • POSTED BY M00nraker on | February 19, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    wonderstar1 on (February 19, 2013, 16:43 GMT) Regardless of how the aussies approach against spin, the main worry for India would be their batting. they make club level bowlers like swann and finn as great bowlers. According to the ICC bowler rankings Swann and Finn are numbers 7 and 16 respectively, so I'd be interested to know how 'club level' is defined in your world?

  • POSTED BY blink182alex on | February 19, 2013, 17:38 GMT

    He showed against Sri Lanka at the MCG that he can bat at 4 well, he will just need to rotate the strike better as he can be a bit boundary or nothing at times. The test for him is to turn his starts into big match winning scores, he doesn't get out early often which is a good trait. He averages 37 and has only made 2 100's which tells you he makes a lot of scores from 30-60.

    Saying that if Steve Smith makes the squad as a back up batter then Watto's got no worries about loosing his place, Smith is a fielder that can't bat or bowl.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | February 19, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    @jonesy2, Welcome back, it's good to see you back, no doubt for only a short while, between Australia's matches. Your comments on exactly why Australia keep collapsing to mediocre bowling on flat wickets have been sorely missed.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | February 19, 2013, 17:22 GMT

    An average of 37 and he's Australia's 'go-to' man. The infamous 'Slide' continues. I for one can't wait to see the excuses when Australia collapse again against mediocre spinners on flat pitches.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 16:52 GMT

    I don't know why it keeps getting mentioned that Watson's place in the side as a batter is under pressure. He's clearly still one of the best batsmen in the country regardless of if he's going to bowl or not. Sure he needs to convert more of his Test fifties into hundreds, but seriously are people like Steven Smith or Usman Khawaja going to score more runs than Watto?

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 16:51 GMT

    It's not that hard to be success in IND, especially in these days.They 've got a pretty modest bowling attack and a fairly reasonable batting to go with and the other issue for AUS is that they have no threat from IND fast bowler apart from a lil bit from zaheer.They'll play 3 spinners and that too starts with the very 2nd over in the first day of a test.So i believe it's a series which seems to be a battle between AUS bowlers and IND batters.IND are under immense pressure due to reason drought of test,odi victories.So you can't call IND as the most toughest place to win as it was 4/5 years ago.

  • POSTED BY wonderstar1 on | February 19, 2013, 16:43 GMT

    Regardless of how the aussies approach against spin, the main worry for India would be their batting. they make club level bowlers like swann and finn as great bowlers. If they can bat positive against australian bowlers they have a great chance.For gods sake this must be last series for dhoni and sehwag as we dont want to carry many passengers in the team.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 16:41 GMT

    warner and watson should open. when is australian selectors gonna give khawaja a fair run in the test side? cowan is just not good enough. he has only one century in test cricket which was also due to luck. watson might score some fifties but will not score hundrerds if he bats at 4.

  • POSTED BY Demolish on | February 19, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    Watson is a world class opener; he has proved that time and again in all formats. Australia need somebody as consistent as Watson to knock the shine off the ball and give them good starts consistently. Just because he is an all rounder doesn't mean he has to get used to coming in at no 4. Ed Cowan would prove to be a good no 3 or 4 batsman as his stability and mindset suit more that of a no 3 batsman

  • POSTED BY cricketfanwrites on | February 19, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    Its clear, that Clarke and Arthur are not happy that Watson will not be bowling. It will be interesting to see what CA does if they lose the first test due to lack of runs from their top order. Will they then, add Khawaja who cannot get a fair crack at a regular spot or Maxwell for his all around game? Am sure Maxwell will get the nod. The only was Khawaja get to play in this series is due to a major injury or if CA lose the first two tests. Am sure Warner is not 100% fit - but was cleared because he is handy with the ball also. Will he be handy enough for those Indians in India? Lets watch.

  • POSTED BY JB26 on | February 19, 2013, 16:15 GMT

    Good for Aus to stick with Warner / Cowen, if of course Warner is fit? Having Clarky and Watto in the middle order is solid. Keep in mind Watto is very handy with the ball and should be utilized if a break through is needed. His swing ability in India has proved beneficial before. Is Doherty ready?

  • POSTED BY thebatsmansHoldingthebowlersWilley on | February 19, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    @Jonesy2: Watson is averaging 37 in tests and has 2 centuries in 69 innings. That is quite obviously well short of world class. He likes batting against the new ball - he's a boundary hitter. He finds it tough when the ball goes softer because he not adept at nudging the ball around for 1s and 2s. This suggests he'll struggle coming in at 4 against the spinners in India. Next time check a few stats mate!

  • POSTED BY dinesh.lovecricket on | February 19, 2013, 16:10 GMT

    I think its a good decision for the watson to bat at no 4 as he will nullify indian spinners along with michael clarke in the middle order.Baring these two none of the other aussie looks likely to bat sinerlely against indian spinners.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 16:09 GMT

    Cowan is the kind of bat we need in India against big turners of the ball - a watcher.

    Warner and Watson are an ideal ODI/T20 opening pair but you need an anchor in test cricket, especially in places like England and India where the ball does a lot. That's Cowan's job.

  • POSTED BY Notout_Naveen on | February 19, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    This looks to me like a defensive strategy...I expected Watson , Clarke to bat upfront and lead from the front..Watson could demoralize the opposition at the top of the order by opening the innings while Clarke for the amount of runs he has amassed last year should have volunteered to be at 3 or at least4.

  • POSTED BY siddhartha87 on | February 19, 2013, 16:02 GMT

    aussies will destroy indian spinners. Specially Watson and Warner.If R.Jadeja gets a chance to play than i am sure it will be his last test series. At least his bowling career will be over.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 15:37 GMT

    I do not think you can really call the Cowen/Warner partnership successful. Please review their stats in the recent series against SA. Yes, both scored centuries but never together. In fact, Australia was more often than not 40 for 4 and Clark and Hussey then did the job, except in Perth.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 15:35 GMT

    @ SK5983 cowan is not a number3 wont work

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | February 19, 2013, 15:13 GMT

    wouldnt want to break up the worlds best opening partnership also

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | February 19, 2013, 15:12 GMT

    watson is world class and one of the most dynamic and dominating batsmen ever there is no reason why he shouldnt be able to bat anywhere in the order. have to feel for usman he has been the resever batsman on tours since last august 2011 in sri lanka.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 15:09 GMT

    For me, The Aussies have go to get Edward Jones in their team. His steepling bounce is bound to cause the Indian batsmen serious problems.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 15:07 GMT

    Still no place in the Australian top-order for Edward Jones? The lad has absolutely piled on the runs over the last 6 months

  • POSTED BY Dhanvanth on | February 19, 2013, 15:06 GMT

    This is worrying signs for India. The key wicket is warner! My squad would be: vijay, sehwag, pujara, kohli, sachin, rahane, dhoni, ashwin, bhuvaneshwar, ojha, ishant

  • POSTED BY QingdaoXI on | February 19, 2013, 15:06 GMT

    Sorry but for watson it will be good if he opens, if he comes in middle order when ball is old and spinners are well settled. Than he wil struggle and may throw his wicket and can get one or two good innings here and there, but will not succed as middle order batsmen in the subcomtinent conditions. Australia should open with Warner, Watson, Cowan, Khawaja, Clarke, Henriques, Wade, Starc, Doherty, Bird, Lyon.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 15:04 GMT

    Good choice ! As it would not have been good to split best opening partnership of year and also strengthen middle order.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 14:59 GMT

    WATSON is a top class batsman and I hope he will do some fireworks in the middle order too !! Though, I want India to win this series 4-0....hope Bhajji will make a strong comeback.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 14:59 GMT

    WATSON is a top class batsman and I hope he will do some fireworks in the middle order too !! Though, I want India to win this series 4-0....hope Bhajji will make a strong comeback.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 15:04 GMT

    Good choice ! As it would not have been good to split best opening partnership of year and also strengthen middle order.

  • POSTED BY QingdaoXI on | February 19, 2013, 15:06 GMT

    Sorry but for watson it will be good if he opens, if he comes in middle order when ball is old and spinners are well settled. Than he wil struggle and may throw his wicket and can get one or two good innings here and there, but will not succed as middle order batsmen in the subcomtinent conditions. Australia should open with Warner, Watson, Cowan, Khawaja, Clarke, Henriques, Wade, Starc, Doherty, Bird, Lyon.

  • POSTED BY Dhanvanth on | February 19, 2013, 15:06 GMT

    This is worrying signs for India. The key wicket is warner! My squad would be: vijay, sehwag, pujara, kohli, sachin, rahane, dhoni, ashwin, bhuvaneshwar, ojha, ishant

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 15:07 GMT

    Still no place in the Australian top-order for Edward Jones? The lad has absolutely piled on the runs over the last 6 months

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 15:09 GMT

    For me, The Aussies have go to get Edward Jones in their team. His steepling bounce is bound to cause the Indian batsmen serious problems.

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | February 19, 2013, 15:12 GMT

    watson is world class and one of the most dynamic and dominating batsmen ever there is no reason why he shouldnt be able to bat anywhere in the order. have to feel for usman he has been the resever batsman on tours since last august 2011 in sri lanka.

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | February 19, 2013, 15:13 GMT

    wouldnt want to break up the worlds best opening partnership also

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 15:35 GMT

    @ SK5983 cowan is not a number3 wont work

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2013, 15:37 GMT

    I do not think you can really call the Cowen/Warner partnership successful. Please review their stats in the recent series against SA. Yes, both scored centuries but never together. In fact, Australia was more often than not 40 for 4 and Clark and Hussey then did the job, except in Perth.