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July 2, 2013
Only one innings into his Ashes opening partnership with Chris Rogers, Shane Watson has likened it to the union with Simon Katich that represented the most productive phase of his career. Punishing in power and unimpeachably correct in technique, Watson felt so assured in his strokeplay with Rogers at the other end that he coshed a century before lunch against Worcestershire, ultimately finishing with 109.
Watson also said that Rogers had proved a valuable ally in the middle, offering advice on English climes and also gee-ups whenever he felt the allrounder might have been flagging in concentration. Having never batted with Rogers before, it was not difficult to imagine Watson wondering why it had taken so long. Whatever the reasons, both can now make up for lost time in the Investec Ashes.
"It's great to be able to bat with Chris, it was my first experience of batting with him and we had a good start." Watson said. "He's certainly a very experienced and knowledgable cricketer and to be able to bat with him he certainly kept me going and just through how he's able to sum up conditions and continue to provide his knowledge while we're out batting.
"I thought he gave me a few really good pointers out there, especially early on, with him understanding the English conditions even better than I do. My combination with Simon Katich in the past was maybe along similar sorts of lines so it was really nice to be able to get a good partnership going the first time we got a chance to bat together."
Batting alongside Katich in 15 Tests from mid-2009 to late 2010, Watson compiled his two Test centuries and a host of other sizeable scores, before injury and the start of Michael Clarke's captaincy conspired to bring an end to Katich's international career. Watson opened with Phillip Hughes before shifting down the order, but coveted the position now returned to him by the new coach, Darren Lehmann.
"It brings out the best in my personality … it really does get me up and going," Watson said. "Every time I go out to open the batting I know I'm going out to face a brand new ball and it's always going to be doing something whether it's swing or seam. The bowlers are also at their freshest as well. It certainly gets my blood going and gets my mind switched on immediately as well."
That switching on appeared to happen the moment he walked out to bat first at Taunton last week, a swift 90 followed up by an even more brazen display at New Road. While the preceding six months had been largely barren for Watson as a first-class player, he said the period had helped him develop a few elements of his batting and may now be reaping the benefits.
"I felt like over the past six months, even though in Test cricket especially I haven't been able to score the runs that I've wanted, the things I've been working on with my batting have been coming together," he said. "I just hadn't been able to put them into practice.
"I definitely feel like in my game I've been able to iron out a few of the issues I've had over the previous year or so. You never know, it's not going to guarantee me success, that's for sure, but I feel batting-wise I'm in a really good place."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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