Opening my primary job - Watson
Shane Watson has reiterated his desire to stay at the top of the order for Australia but said that if he has to bowl more overs for the team he may need to be played in a different role.
Watson has managed a highest score of just 36 during Australia's ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka, but as a bowler has had a significant influence. He took three middle-order wickets in the first innings in Galle, which tilted the match decisively towards Australia, then offered excellent support to Trent Copeland and Ryan Harris as they sought to spoil the hosts' efforts to save the Pallekele Test on the final day. This takes a toll on Watson's batting, but he said he must find a way to better balance the two roles.
"It's easy to say that [my bowling is affecting my batting], but really in the end I'm in the team as an opening batsman; my primary job is to score runs and I've just got to get better at it," Watson said. "There's no doubt being an allrounder and bowling does take a lot more out of you than guys who just bat, but that's part of being an allrounder.
"I really do enjoy opening the batting and taking on the quicks with the new ball, but it does depend on what my role is. If the new dynamics of the team require me to bowl more, as I did in this [the Pallekele] Test match, then my role may change and I'm happy to bat anywhere to make sure we've got the best people in the right positions. I feel my body is really coping and handling the overs a lot better as well."
Watson enters the final Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo without the runs he believes his batting touch has warranted. In something of a microcosm of Watson's Test batting career, first-innings scores of 22 and 36 gave Australia a start, but were not the match-shaping tallies he and the team crave.
A career ledger of two Test centuries, against 15 half-centuries, rather sums up his present state of frustration, despite spending plenty of time in this year's Indian Premier League at the feet of Rahul Dravid, who he quizzed in some detail about the art of concentration.
"It's been disappointing," Watson said of his batting performances in Sri Lanka. "After not playing Test cricket over the last seven or eight months I've been really excited about getting into the Test cricket side of things, the batting especially. I'm hitting the ball alright. Hopefully I can turn that into a big score.
"That's the most frustrating thing, not being able to capitalise when I'm batting really well. I know within the team I'm a more senior player now so it is my job as a top-order batsman to be able to score big runs, and unfortunately I haven't been able to do that consistently. It's something I've got to get better at."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo