According to John Buchanan, Australia's coach, the national selectors want Shane Watson to prove he can hold down the No. 6 slot in Tests. After Watson smashed an unbeaten 161 against Pakistan A in Darwin during the ongoing Top End Series, Buchanan said the time was ripe for the young allrounder.
"Andrew Symonds and Shane Watson ... they really need to be able to give the selectors confidence that they can hold the No. 6 batting spot down, if they are to be considered as allrounders," Buchanan told reporters. "They need to provide the selectors with confidence that they can bat in that No. 6 position and that will be their first priority from a selection point of view."
In the three Tests he has played, Watson's average is 20.25. His nearest rival for the place in the Ashes is Symonds, who averages just 19.06 in ten Tests. Buchanan felt that batting aside, the ability to bowl spells in Tests was also a priority for the selectors. "To be able to bowl a certain number of reasonably tidy overs to either rest the fast bowlers or provide back-up to a spinner or a spin duo, is really what the selectors are looking for." Both Watson and Symonds have enjoyed strong bowling performances in one-day cricket, but neither has stepped up in the five-day format.
Buchanan hinted that Brad Haddin, the New South Wales wicketkeeper and Australia A captain, had done enough to keep the selectors interested in his capabilities. "Everybody who is up there is under the selectors' eyes. [Selectors] Andrew Hilditch and David Boon are up there in Darwin," Buchanan said. "Brad [Haddin] is obviously is the man next in line at this stage to succeed Gilly [Adam Gilchrist], so it's the same sort of thing. Really every opportunity he gets he puts his name forward."