Shane Watson will be given the first chance to fill the immense void in Australia’s batting order left by Ricky Ponting’s retirement, with the talented allrounder set to bat No.4 in next week’s first Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart.
While Phillip Hughes earned his recall due to Ponting’s retirement, the natural opener will be first drop in a re-jigged Australian top order.
On the same day skipper Michael Clarke fronted the media in Sydney, suggesting the Test batting line-up was still up in the air, top-order specialist Watson confirmed in Brisbane he would slide one spot down to No.4.
“(Coach) Mickey Arthur talked to me at the end of the last Test to say the way it was looking, they were going to move me down to four,” Watson said.
“It’s taken me a few days to get my head around that, but it means I can bowl a few more overs.
“In the last Test match, I know Michael (Clarke) in the second innings was a bit hesitant to bowl me a few times towards the latter part of their innings, just to give me the chance to be as fresh as I could going into bat.
“The ultimate is to be able to contribute with both bat and ball throughout the whole Test match and not be held back.
“Batting at four will give me that extra time to freshen up.”
Clarke contrastingly said the top order had yet to be finalised and that he was open to a move up the order, a shift that Greg and Ian Chappell have both suggested would benefit the team.
“I’ll speak to Mickey Arthur about that when we get into camp in Hobart,” Clarke said of the Ponting-less batting order.
“As for where I bat, the number I bat doesn’t bother me. It’s about fitting in with what’s best for the team.”
Hard-hitting batsman David Warner, one of four openers in Australia’s new-look top six, believed Watson moving to No.4 would be the optimal outcome for the Test side.
“As Shane said, (it would be great) if we can get the most out of him bowling. It’s going to be fantastic for him to get that little extra rest,” Warner said.
“Me and Ed (Cowan) are in a good space at the moment. They’ve told us where we’re at,” the 26-year-old added when asked whether Arthur had assured him Australia’s opening partnership won’t change.
“We always look forward to batting with each other, and we’re playing down in Hobart which is Ed’s home ground.”
Clarke also failed to shed any light on who was the frontrunner to win the pace-bowling selection battle between Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc.
“When somebody doesn’t play in a match, it gives someone else an opportunity and that’s what has happened,” Clarke said of Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle’s absence in the WACA Test.
“Now we’ve got to work out what’s our best XI.”