Shane Watson’s reinstatement as an opener appears short-lived, with Australia strongly considering a permanent return for David Warner at the top of the innings.
Watson was told he’d get his wish and open for the series, but it seems plans could change and Australian captain Michael Clarke declared the allrounder would bat wherever is best for the team.
In the second innings at Old Trafford, Warner was promoted to open, with Watson shifted to No.4.
It was a plan hatched to score quick runs – but shapes as the new blueprint going forward.
“Shane understood my reasoning for opening with Warner and was more than happy to move to No.4,” said Clarke.
“And he’s made it clear that wherever I want him to bat he will do that for the team.
“Watto has made it clear to me and everyone that he loves opening the batting.
“It’s a tough one.
“We will continue to talk and assess what is best for the team.”
Just last week coach Darren Lehmann said about Watson: “we need him to make it as an opener and I’m really confident he will make it as an opener.”
However, the destructive presence of leading wicket-taker Graeme Swann dining out on Australia’s left-handers in the middle-order has forced a tactical rethink.
And Watson has hardly demanded to pick where he bats with a series average of 24.
Warner averages 39 opening the batting for Australia.’
Watson has averaged 41 at the top and just 26.62 in six matches at No.4.
But opening with Warner means he and fellow left-handers Chris Rogers and Usman Khawaja are all in the top three, increasing their chances of getting in against the new ball, before Swann comes into the attack.
Right-handed Watson at No.4 allows he and expert players of spin Michael Clarke and Steve Smith to occupy the middle-order.
Lehmann admitted that philosophy had merit, but stressed nothing had been committed to.
“There are a lot of things that look good,” he said.
“The reason we swapped around was for Davey Warner to have a go and Watson to tackle Swann, pretty simple.
“We might do (stick with that order), we just have to wait and see.”
Watson’s batting has been sub-par but he’s bowled tightly, sending down 31 maidens from his 61 overs, at an economy rate of 1.86 runs an over.
It’s the most Watson has bowled since the Sri Lanka series in 2011 and before that the last Ashes series in 2010-11 – and it’s only three matches into a five-game series.
Lehmann said Watson was doing his job as an allrounder.
“As an allrounder, no dramas,” he said.
“When you play an extra bowler in your top six, it’s such an advantage.”