Ed Cowan’s position in the Australian Test team is on shaky ground after the selectors revealed they’ll consider moving Shane Watson back to opener.
Injury-prone vice-captain Watson has given up his allrounder status, declaring he wants to be considered as a batsman only.
Watson was only moved down from the top of the order to help manage his workload, but now he won’t bowl there’s nothing stopping him from slotting back into his best position at opener against India next month and England in July.
Australian coach Mickey Arthur acknowledged that was a genuine possibility while also revealing in the aftermath of the series win over Sri Lanka that Brad Haddin would definitely go on the Ashes tour as a back-up wicketkeeper.
“If he (Watson) is not bowling it’s worth the consideration,” said Arthur. “It will certainly be worth the chat.
“I still maintain that I felt No.4 was a really good fit but that was (with) Shane Watson bowling some overs as well.
“Watto wants to come back as a batsman. He feels every time he bats and then gets injured bowling, he loses a bit of momentum with his batting.
“Maybe he does (open again), maybe he doesn’t, but it’s probably too early to even discuss it.”
Despite a century to begin the summer against South Africa in Brisbane, Cowan is now on thin ice, averaging just 32.81 from 13 Tests.
The Tasmanian looked out of sorts in his two innings against Sri Lanka in Sydney and has missed too many opportunities to cash in on good pitches.
On the other hand, Watson averages 43.67 as an opener, far better than he fares elsewhere in the order.
Cowan is unlucky that domestic scheduling robs him of a chance to find decent first-class form and press his case before the team departs for India in early February.
Tasmania don’t play their next Sheffield Shield game until February 6 and as a longer-form specialist Cowan won’t play in the ODI series.
The decision to stop Watson bowling for at least the foreseeable future means Australia is also on the lookout for their next allrounder.
“We want an allrounder all the time. I think that’s quite important for us,” said Arthur.
Spinner and lower order hitter Glenn Maxwell, who was 12th man at the SCG, is a near-certainty for India. Batting option David Hussey also bowls useful off-spin.
Paceman Mitchell Johnson is now also considered to be of allrounder quality by selectors, although the balance of the team in the third Test in Sydney with five bowlers was debatable.
Other allrounder options like Moises Henriques and Dan Christian weren’t picked for the first two ODI matches.
Meanwhile, Australia will give an Ashes recall to 35-year-old Haddin and will also consider taking the NSW gloveman to India as shadow for No.1 Matt Wade and as another middle-order batting option following his return for the ODI team.
“We’ve looked at a full group of 20-21 players (including Haddin) that needs to be cut down to take to India,” Arthur said.
“Whether we take two keepers I’m not sure. I do know we’ll be taking two keepers to the Ashes in England.
“It’s important we know who our second keeper is and he’s comfortable knowing exactly where he stands as well.”